The small home trend seems to be here to stay, and with it the desire to simplify.
But downsizing doesn’t mean feeling cramped — or cramping one’s style. Creating a comfortable and comely living space in less square footage simply requires more planning and attention to detail.
Here are four local homeowners who have made the most of their small spaces. They offer us advice on how to maximize every square inch, no matter what size the home.
An updated ranch home
Michael Bonner and Lizz Kluger bought their ranch-style home in Paso Robles knowing it would need some serious work to jibe with their contemporary tastes.
Bonner is a landscape architect and Kluger an interior designer, so they collaborated to transform their 1,200-square-foot residence, built in 1991.
A new floorplan both volumized and modernized the home.
As with many homes of its era, every room was walled off and bedrooms were connected by a space-wasting hallway.
The new floorplan uses the dining room as a hub with other rooms radiating off it. The main living areas are one open space, making the house feel larger, brighter and up-to-date.
The couple put other tricks into play to make the most of space. They chose open shelving, knowing that cabinet doors can make a small kitchen feel closed-in.
They also replaced a hodgepodge of wall colors with one clean, light-reflective hue — Benjamin Moore’s Dove White, a warm white that suits the contemporary yet rustic decorating scheme of this modern wine-country home.
A peacock-themed guest suite
The Abdul Cader family saw the tiny space above the garage of their San Luis Obispo home as more than a potential guest room – they viewed it as a challenge. Their mission: to fit a sleeping area, sitting area, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and dining area in a mere 336 square feet.
The guest suite feels larger because if its 9-foot-tall ceilings, tall windows and French doors. Reflective materials such as glass tile, stainless steel appliances and copper-like ceiling tiles add to the effect.
Rushdi and Nisha Abdul Cader chose every piece of furniture carefully to maximize space without sacrificing style.
While it may seem counterintuitive to put a four-poster bed in a tiny bedroom, they made it possible with posts that angle slightly inward to allow for more shoulder space around its perimeter.
In the kitchen, a console table and bar stools create a dining area in a mere sliver of space.
The Abdul Caders boldly infused the space with peacock blue. Repeating this one hue in accents throughout the guest suite keeps the eye moving and doesn’t add visual clutter, said Rushdi Abdul Cader said.
Instead, it brought personality to a petite space that the family fondly refers to as “The Peacock’s Nest.”
A bungalow with built-in storage
When David and Lauren Bowin downsized to a 1,250-square-foot bungalow in San Luis Obispo, they wanted less of everything – less house to maintain, and “less stuff,” David Bowin said.
A remodel added 600 square feet to the 1940s-era home and gave the space into a “warm mid-century modern” style that is clean and minimalist, he said.
Storage is a large part of maintaining that uncluttered look. The couple opted for built-in storage whenever possible — such as small built-in wardrobes that take up less space than the common closet-dresser combination.
“Ninety-nine percent of our furniture is dual purpose,” Lauren Bowin said.
Nightstands, sofa tables and end tables all have drawers or shelves, which help to keep tabletops clutter-free.
The couple enjoys entertaining, so they focused on expanding their living spaces to the outdoors. The covered back patio has the feel of an open-air room.
Even the often-overlooked front porch came into play. With comfortable seating areas and a fire pit, the Bowins can now welcome neighbors over, or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee outdoors in the morning.
A modern loft
Michelle Borrero’s San Luis Obispo condominium is modern to its core, with an open floor plan, mid-century modern furniture and enormous folding glass doors that open to a 500-square-foot patio – all features that make the most of the loft’s 1,400 square feet.
To keep the space from feeling sterile and cold, Borrero combined sleek materials with warmer, traditional elements. She chose ebonized oak cabinets in a modern, flat-panel door style.
A live-edge dining table adds an organic counterpoint to the mostly mid-century-style furniture. Borrero surrounded the table with modern Saarinen Executive chairs.
The entire space was given a warm foundation with walnut floors in a distressed finish. Wood simply feels warmer and more yielding underfoot than stone or concrete, she said.
Wool rugs collected from around the world add subtle color to the mostly gray, black and white palette.
“I want to be comfortable when I’m here,” Borrero said.
White is a great choice for wall color in a small space. Designer Lizz Kluger advises to considering your furnishings when selecting a hue. If you have lots of wood and warm colors in your home, choose a warmer white. Blue, green and silver hues call for a cool white. And if you have a lot of art, opt for a true white for a gallery look.
Don’t ignore your front yard. A few pavers can be enough to create a comfortable seating area, while a fire pit, water feature, or potted plants can make the front patio more inviting.
Enlarge the kitchen. Keep open shelving stocked with items that won’t add visual clutter, such as glassware or monochromatic tableware. Store kitchen clutter, including smaller appliances such as mixers and food processors, out of sight.
Go ahead and splurge. High-end materials such as fancy designer tiles are more affordable when used in a small space. For an even budget-friendlier approach, use super high-end pieces as accents.