Design Dilemma: Size Doesn’t Matter
According to a recent report of the American Institute of Architects, Americans are getting more real with home design. Instead of lusting after huge master bedroom suites, gigantic kitchens, two-story entry ways and living rooms, and enormous “his n’ her” bathroom suites, people these days are content with smaller everything, including less square footage, smaller master bedrooms, smaller kitchens, and an open floor plan that combines living room space with the dining room and kitchen. The key, these days, is functionality, not size.
It makes a lot of sense with higher energy costs and environmental concerns. Who wants to heat a 4000 square foot manse when a 1500 square foot cottage can work just as well? So let’s take a look at how lean and mean can function in real life, shall we?
1) Small Master Bedroom.
We always wondered why so many home design magazines feature a master bedroom complete with a couch, coffee table and TV. Why? Aren’t bedrooms supposed to be about sleeping? Fortunately, architects and builders are coming to their senses. Not all of us want to hang out in the bedroom all day. Here’s an example of a small bedroom below. It’s simple, yet elegant, and its really all that anyone needs:
What makes this small bedroom work? Built-in storage and good lighting. Built-in cabinets and shelves completely eliminate the need for furniture. Recessed lighting provides atmosphere without mucking up the clean lines. The fact that this bedroom does not have flowing drapes or a cushy rug also works in its favor. It keeps it feeling airy, and its the perfect space for allergy sufferers, too. In the bedroom in the first picture of this post, a small size still feels luxurious and functions well, thanks to a pocket door which doesn’t eat up any valuable floor space.
Below is another modest bedroom. All it’s really got space for is a bed. What makes this bedroom feel so great? We posit that the dramatic paint color lends panache to the small space, preventing it from feeling ho-hum. White curtains and white linens play off the deep charcoal wall color, keeping the feeling restful.
2) Smaller, but more functional kitchens.
A kitchen doesn’t need to be gigantic to function well. In fact, smaller, well-thought out kitchens may actually work better than their larger cousins. For one thing, there’s no need to circle around a football field when it’s time to whip up dinner.
Above, the kitchen is undisputably tiny, but manages not to feel claustrophobic. Part of this results from the thoughtful use of built-ins, including a built-in oven with a separate cooktop integrated into the counter. Every nook and cranny is put to use, including extra space for books. Cabinets extending to the ceiling make use of what is often wasted space, and a mirrored backsplash makes the kitchen feel larger, like a jewelbox. A hanging potrack helps solve the problem of where to keep big pots and pans.
Above, this red kitchen is slightly bigger, but functions better than a kitchen twice its size. That’s because it manages to have loads of cabinet space, a big long countertop for food preparation and even enough space for a kitchen island which acts as both workspace and dining space. Who says you need a separate dining room to eat in style?
3) Smaller, but more functional bathrooms. Bathrooms are easier to clean when they’re small. In fact, there’s no reason at all why a small bathroom has to mean lack of functionality.
The small bathroom above has got everything you need, without a lot of floor space to have to clean. It manages to feel luxurious, thanks to refined finishings such as mosaic tile, a marble sink and beautiful wood cabinetry. A mirror that extends from the cabinets up to the ceiling also helps to make the room feel larger. Below, another small bathroom functions well and feels large, thanks to open shelving and a glass door leading to the shower.
What makes a small bathroom function well? Storage space is critical, of course. And after that, it needs good lighting and a really great mirror. Once you’ve got those basics, you can push a small space into a whole other level simply by splurging on top-notch finishings — beautiful tile, cool faucets, great towel racks and fixtures. There’s no reason you need the double showerheads or twin sinks that were a feature of so many builder’s homes in the last decade.
4) Smaller, but more open floor plans. As architects and home builders embrace smaller homes again, they have not returned to the closed up floor plans of yore. They’ve discovered that keeping rooms open to each other makes a home feel much larger than it otherwise might. It also fits better into how we live today. No one wants to be walled off in the kitchen while entertaining.
The apartment above is only 47 square meters, but it feels huge. Why? Opening up the living, eating and kitchen space has resulted in an easy living flow which is flexible enough to accomodate many different furniture arrangements. It also helps that everything is kept light and bright, and that there is great natural light in the space. The owner has chosen simple furnishing with clean lines. There’s nothing too heavy here. Here’s another view:
Here’s another example of a tiny space from Architect Flavio Castro with an open floor plan. It flows and functions well:
Part of what helps to keep this small space from feeling claustrophobic is the use of a glass dining table which takes up no visual space. Airy light-colored floors also keep the small space feeling open. Furniture is kept in scale with the small surroundings. And of course, there is not too much clutter around, either. If you want to see more pics of this apartment, click here.
In so many ways, it’s a relief that we have finally come to our senses about space. It’s never about how much you have, but how well you use it!
Images: via apartmenttherapy; latesthousedesigns.com; freshome.com