Think BIG, design small.

Posted on Jan 2, 2015 in inspiring INvironmentalism

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

Hopefully, by now you have read my columns on tiny houses and ADUs, and feel well-informed on some viable small building BIG living options. So let’s talk about the importance of design. It is critical in small spaces.

Whether designing tiny, small or compact, time expended in the initial planning and design phases will save money during construction. A well-designed space continues to provide cost savings and benefits to the owner throughout its lifecycle.

Begin now by becoming knowledgeable and resourceful. Start living “tinier” right now. That’s right! Stop buying stuff you don’t need. This is the first step in designing your new lifestyle.

Next, salvage. Salvage. Salvage. It takes time, but is oh-so-fun and rewarding when you find what will work. Finding and using materials from second-hand stores, garage sales, or Craig’s list is a resourceful, creative way of saving your money and keeping stuff out of the landfill. These pieces usually become the best part of the story of your home. And your story is where it’s at when you show off your new abode.

To make salvaging seamless in your construction process, scour those stores before you have completely dialed in the design. You will want to have the exact measurements of your found objects on hand when you button up your construction documents.

Thoughtfully consider your materials. When buying new, choose cost-effective materials that will be reliable and healthy. Take time to research what is available in your region. In a smaller space, the opportunity to enjoy every surface is right before you. Opt not for painted drywall surfaces at every corner. Instead add texture as it is key to adding interest.

Choose window locations carefully. The prime locations for views are over the kitchen sink, in sleeping quarters by the bed and connectivity to an outdoor living area. Framed views will expand the sense of space. Doors with half or full glass will aid in views.

Views aren’t the only reason to choose locations carefully. Privacy, passive cooling and solar heating are extremely important to comfort levels as well. Skylights are an option that will provide natural light without losing privacy, and if placed at the top of stairs may achieve extra headroom. Quality windows and skylights will be one of the biggest expenditures, and well worth it.

Plan out your space and employ multi/stacking functions. For example, on the tiny scale, you certainly can double-duty sinks. Employ the lavatory as laundry sink. When folded down, your dinette table becomes a guest bed. The couch area converts to workspace by day. It’s fun to dream up new combos.

Employ vertical spaces and surfaces as storage solutions. Well-placed hooks and shelves work wonders! Wall-mounted countertop, work surfaces and furniture clear circulation space when they are not in use. Lofts may provide storage or sleeping areas.

Design for an exterior storage space as well (even if you have to sacrifice some of the interior space) and allow for accessibility from the outside.

Last tip for now, but certainly not the least: Connect the indoors to the outdoors. Employ the outside as an additional living space. Design a covered patio with a small place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Design will make or break any space, especially a small one. Choose a building designer who has a passion for designing small spaces or do your homework. There are many resources and it will more than pay off in the end!