Between working with clients living in tiny city condos (try a family of four in 600 sq ft.) and downsizing to our own house of 1300 sq. ft., I have been learning a lot about how to make the most of small spaces. If you are in the house hunting stage, my best advice for deciding on which small living space you should choose is to find a home with as much natural light as you can, high ceilings, and an open layout. These three things will go a LONG way when you are short on square footage. If you take two houses with the exact same square footage, you will feel like the one with high(er) ceilings and natural light is more spacious. I can't tell you how many houses we walked through that were bigger than our current house, but Connor had to duck in places, walk sideways up the stairs, or I could touch the ceiling if I stood on my toes.....and we are not large people. It felt very chlosterphobic. So that's my advice for those on "the small house hunt". If you have a small house and are wanting suggestions for making the most of what you have, these are some things that have made the world of difference in my own house and in my client's homes.
1. The Chair and a half. Obviously, this would not work for the living room of a 600 sq. ft. house....BUT if you have just a little bit more space, I cannot say enough about this as a smart piece of furniture to own. Why? Because it's smaller than a love seat, but seats two people comfortably. We bought the West Elm Bliss chair in Indiana for our bedroom (back when our bedroom was the size of half our current house), and since then this chair has proven invaluable when we have company. Also, there are some situations, where the room is too small for two accent chairs, and you just have a corner to work with (such is in our last home).....the chair and a half just takes up one corner but seats two people. It's genius, really.
2. Change out your winter/summer clothes. If you have extra storage in a basement or attic, this is a simple thing that can make your closet not feel jam packed (that and actually getting rid of clothes).
3. Go vertical. Perhaps obvious, but worthy of mention. Go vertical with bookcases and decor. It will not only be helpful for storage, but it makes you look up and makes a room feel more spacious.
4. Acrylic or white furniture over dark. Not always, but sometimes dark furniture takes up a lot of visual space. It might be the exact dimensions of a white piece of furniture (or acrylic), but it will feel larger.
5. Low/lateral furniture. This one has surprised me by how much of a difference it makes. Our bedroom furniture is pretty average in size, but when we moved to our "cozy cottage", the only thing that didn't make me feel like the walls were caving in on me were the nightstands. This was unfortunate because it was quite the ordeal to get those dressers up the narrow staircase and into our bedroom in the first place (thanks Connor). So, we exchanged our dressers for two pieces that were the exact width and similar depth for two that were about a foot shorter. Problem solved. I no longer feel like I'm sleeping in a cave, and we still have storage. Here is a low vintage piece I snagged on craigslist for $40.
6. Multi-use furniture. This includes the obvious ( a day bed that can fold into two twin beds) and the less obvious (a low dresser that can also act as a bench)