Incredible Shrinking Spaces

As I browse realtor.ca, the sale of smaller living spaces is pretty apparent. This has been the trend for quite a few years and is expected to continue as urban areas grow denser. According to the National Association of Home Builders in the U.S., the average completed home in 2010 was 2,377 sq ft, down 3% from 2009. This is coupled with the decrease in household sizes. A study done by the Canadian Home Builders Association shows that household sizes have fallen from 3.6 to 2.5 persons between 1971 and 2006. Household sizes are expected to trend down as more baby boomers head towards retirement, which will lead to more developments catering to empty nesters and retirees.

Though homes are getting smaller, the use of space is becoming much more useful. Many homeowners are now more willing to forego space for functionality. There is less focus on separate rooms for a specific purpose. Living rooms will blend into the family room and the dining room is being replaced by a multi-functional eat-in kitchen and entertaining space. Master bedroom suites may double as a home office as well.

Living in a smaller place can really reduce your cleaning and maintenance, making it more affordable. You may also be using less energy, leaving less of a carbon footprint. Make your "cozy" home work for you.

Floor Plan: The layout of your place will determine the usefulness of the space and how you can arrange your furniture. Make sure you buy a place with a floor plan that works for you. I have friends who love entranceways and some who love walking into an open space instead. If you're buying a new development, conceptual photos and floor plans can be deceiving and make a room look much larger than they actually are in reality. It might not hurt to view similar listings with the same layout to really get an idea of what you are getting.

As builders create more multi-functional spaces, it'll be important to figure out what you want each space to do. Will you be dining in your kitchen or is there space for your home office in the master bedroom?

Furniture: Furniture is key to making a space look roomy or cramped. An oversized couch could cut the space in half or an old armour will look overbearing in the corner or a room. Look for pieces that are versatile and can play various roles in your living space. For example, some ottomans can help you store pillows or throws, while acting as an extra seat or side table.

An option is to have pieces customized to fit the nooks you have. This way, you know that it will fit perfectly and maximize the space you have.

Storage: Living in a small space means being creative with how you store your things. Exploit wall space to maximize storage. Consider hanging your pots and pans on the wall or even your most used kitchen utensils - just make sure you find hanging accessories that are strong enough to secure your items. You can also add shelving on your walls for books and items.

Also, spaces above or below your furniture will become extra storage. If you look at any home accessory store, you'll find a plethora of storage items for under the bed or for hanging on a door.

It is possible to create your own dream home in the city. Let your creative side come out as you decide if a smaller space is right for you and your family.

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3 Comments
April 23, 2012
4:57 AM

This goes to show that you don't need to buy a really big house to be comfortable. You just have to be flexible when it comes to the layout and the furniture or fixtures that you buy.

April 25, 2012
11:39 AM

These are great tips!

June 14, 2012
1:43 AM

This article definitely explores many aspects of a living space that the modern dweller will have to deal with and think about, and doing so before starting any renovation or furnishing works will surely be easier than changing it bit by bit later on.

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