Big Ideas for Small Homes: Maximize Space in Your Little House

For the past couple decades, American home building has been based on the “bigger is better” theory. But not everyone can afford a McMansion, and not everyone wants to live in a McMansion even if they could.

Smaller homes have a lot going for them. They are easier to clean and take care of, they cost less to buy or to build, they cost less to maintain and pay taxes on, and they have a more intimate feel.

If you live in a small home, there are a number of ways to get the most use out of the limited space you have. Try some of these tips and tricks

Live in your outdoor space. No matter where you live, there are certain times of the year when it’s beautiful outside your windows. Go out and enjoy it while you can. Houses that have rooms that open up onto patios allow indoor/outdoor living. Meals can be taken outdoors and children get away from the TV, video games, and gadgets and breathe fresh air and get exercise. In the north there is no better place for summertime dinners than on the patio. Even if you are only allotted a small balcony where you live, add a nice wicker chair with a cushion and some flowers and you have a great spot to read a book or listen to the people on the street.

Eliminate unnecessary rooms. Dining rooms are overrated. They get use only one or two times a year but requiring cleaning, heating, and furniture year round. If you already have a dining room, make it into a room that gets use. Add some french doors to close it off and turn it into an office or a children’s play room. If you don’t have a dining room, use your eat-in kitchen or the patio.

Make your main living spaces open to one another. Living rooms, kitchens, and eating spaces that flow together get the most use. While entertaining, no one feels “left out” because they are subjugated to one zone or another. With families, the parents can keep an eye on their kids while they are busy whipping up dinner. Connecting the spaces you have will make the inside feel larger even if the square footage is still on the small side.

Create built-ins. Built-in furniture, such as desks, and storage, such as dressers and cabinets, tuck needed space into areas that are otherwise hard to furnish. Space under the roofline becomes dead space as it slopes downward toward the floor where no one can fit to sit or stand. But with added built-in dressers or cabinets, the space has function and helps free up other areas where a dresser might otherwise go. A properly organized closet can completely eliminate the need for a bureau in the bedroom.

Have furniture with multi-functions. Buy a kitchen or dining table that is round and expandable. They not only allow for more space, they are friendly for other uses such as men’s poker night, ladies’ bunco night, or family game night. A desk can double as a night stand in a child’s room or in the master bedroom. A china hutch can store and display your dishes away from your cramped kitchen cabinets and hide board games in the enclosed space below. A coffee table with drawers can stow away children’s legos, action figures, and crayons and craft paper.

Small spaces can be family friendly spaces and they can be great for entertaining. A pint-sized home is friendly on your wallet and the environment. You want to live in a house that allows you to live as you wish, and not monopolize your time with cleaning extra spaces and extraneous upkeep. Be proud of the small place you call home.

Christmas Decor for the Home: Antiqued Mantel/Dresser Scarf

Materials Needed:

1/2 yard of muslin fabric
1 skein of embroidery floss
Embroidery needle
Embroidery hoop
Sewing machine
Muslin toned trim 1/2 yard (one inch to one and a half inch)
Trim the shade of the embroidery floss 1/2 yard (one quarter inch)
Instant tea or coffee
Cinnamon (optional)


Cut the muslin in half. If you started with 36″ fabric it will be 18″ in length and width. If you started with 45″ fabric it will be 22 1/2″ in length by 18″ width. Either is fine.

You will be working along the 18″ width. Lightly draw the holiday saying you want your scarf to express. Make sure to space the letters so they are centered. To do this count all of the letters in your saying and find the center letter. Draw that letter first in the center of the width. Work your way out on both sides by drawing the remaining letters making sure they spread out across the distance and are not bunched up in the middle.

Using the embroidery floss, embroider the letters in one color.

Fold the fabric in half with the embroidery on the inside. Stitch the fabric all the way around leaving an opening for turning. Clip the corners off of the fabric beyond the stitching. Turn fabric right side out. Press with the iron. Do not use starch.

On the edge of the fabric under the embroidery sew the muslin colored trim from end to end. Once done repeat with the colored trim over the top of the muslin trim. (figure 1)

To give it that appearance of being aged the scarf is then tea dyed. This does not mean you need to go out and purchase tea. If you have coffee, it will work just fine. Fill your sink with a couple inches of very hot water. Sprinkle the tea or coffee into the water liberally. Place the scarf into the water and make sure all of the fabric gets submerged. Now sprinkle more coffee or tea over top of the fabric. If you have cinnamon, sprinkle cinnamon into the dyed water onto the fabric. Mix it around a bit so the tea or coffee dissolves and doesn’t leave a pitted look on the fabric. (figure 2)

Lay the scarf onto a baking sheet and bake it in the oven at 275 for 30 minutes.

If the scarf is too dark for your taste, rinse it thoroughly and dry it in the oven once more. (figure 3)

If you like the look of the scarf prior to dying simply stop there. You can always spray the scarf with a cinnamon scent to still get the aroma through your home.