Small dwellings are becoming an increasingly popular option in the United States and around the globe, thanks to the rise of single-person households, rising housing costs, and a desire to reduce our environmental footprint.
Worldwide, 15 percent of all households are home to single occupants, and in many developed countries the proportion of one person households has more than doubled between 1960 and 2015. Coupled with this is the fact that the average home size in the United States has almost doubled in a similar time period, growing from an average of 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,687 in 2015, according to the Census Bureau.
It’s no wonder that many people are looking at alternatives, such as tiny houses—typically taking up a mere 100 – 400 square feet, as described on CarolinaCountry.com—as well as options like micro apartments in urban areas, and house-sharing. So, how can people dwelling in small apartments and tiny houses make their homes stylish and attractive? Here are seven secrets to creating a neat, attractive living space in a small home.
To save on space in a small home, convertible furniture can make one room into many. A couch that folds out to become a bed, a pull-out desk that turns into a table, and a dish-drying rack that also stores plates and bowls elegantly until the next use are all excellent examples of innovative furniture that can add style to a small space while reducing clutter.
Small-space dwellers and decorators need to use every inch of space they have for living a full life in a small home. This means that wall and ceiling space start to gain much more importance, with stacked shelving, wall gardens, and creative placements of lights and fixtures helping to achieve a rich, intriguing home environment. Dried and preserved food items can be stored in airtight mason jars on shelves in the kitchen for an attractive display—they will be within hand’s reach and make your kitchen look like a chic rustic corner store! The options are endless.
Another obstacle to stylish living in small spaces is often the lack of built-in storage. With a little creativity, you can easily hide away a large number of books, papers, DVDs, and other bits and pieces from view and keep your place looking fabulous. Consider bed and couch bases with pull-out drawers, drawers built in to stair cases, and adding additional compartments to existing cupboards to keep your things in order and maximize on storage space.
Bring color and life into your small home with indoor plants for an attractive feature that improves air quality and can even provide food! Herbs on the windowsill, succulent arrangements, cacti, and terrariums make fine accent features and are just plain cute too, and staghorn ferns hanging from a shelf garden work wonders for keeping a small home fresh and stylish. Living decorations such as plants also provide a much-needed source of mental oxygen in a small space that could otherwise become suffocating. Be sure to make the most of windows for sunlight and ventilation for a space that’s cozy and still connected to the outdoors.
One great advantage of living in a small space (especially as a single person or childless couple) is that you can focus on infusing your home with a few pieces of decor that really express your own style and interests. This could be a local, hand-carved wooden chopping board, a unique pottery lamp, or a piece of artwork that was painted by a friend or relative. It’s completely up to you. The guiding goal: Make your space your own by choosing one-of-a-kind decor that is really meaningful for you and reflects your personality.
Not sure what to keep and what to donate or sell? As well as choosing your (fewer) possessions based on your unique style, follow the advice of Japanese organizational guru Marie Kondo and keep only that which brings you joy. Not only will your home become an intimate reflection of your personal aesthetic, but you will be surrounded by the things you love—all day, every day!
When your indoor space is limited, expanding your living to an outdoor porch or balcony can make a huge difference for decorating and entertaining. Make the most of outdoor spaces for growing herbs and vegetables, string up some fairy lights, and take the party outside with fold-up chairs and a small table on balmy nights. A strategically-placed wooden or metal trellis on a porch or balcony can provide a living wall of color while providing some much-needed privacy from the neighbors!
A Creative Challenge
Living in a small home—whether for practical, economic, or environmental reasons—presents unique challenges along with unique opportunities. Drawing on these seven tips for inspiration, you can make your little nook cozy, comfortable, and stylish in no time!