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.

sauna at home

Building a Customized Sauna With Multiple Uses

Massachusetts Builder Devises Own Creation With Personal Imprint

Saunas are a tradition for Gabriel Lortie in keeping with his family’s Finnish origins. While growing up, everyone—frequently joined by other relatives and friends—used the sauna his father built. Now he is approaching completion of his own custom sauna in the yard of his home in Middleboro, Massachusetts.

sauna construction

It is an undertaking in which he has drawn as well on his professional background. Lortie, 34, who holds a civil engineering degree, operates a commercial and residential building and design business with his father. Their work, which includes church steeple reconstruction, takes them around the greater Boston area and elsewhere in New England.

Lortie has had to balance the time spent on the sauna with his work and other commitments, he told during an interview inside the 500-square-foot structure. His ideas for what he wanted go back a few years but he’s had to do the building in stages and budget for the separate components.

Interval Between Original Sauna Foundation and Outside Construction

He put in the concrete after starting the design and layout, sometimes continuing to sketch what was in his mind wherever he was at the moment. The sauna foundation stood for four or five years with no blocks or anything else before he had the outside and walls built, Lortie said.

After erecting the exterior building, another several months were required to install the windows, shingles, and do the painting. He did the electrical circuit wiring himself from a manual. Lortie’s father, Bill, helped do some of the siding when he had time available. His youngest brother, Justin, who also has worked on their construction projects, helped to paint the trim and do other steps along the way.

During often weather-related company project lulls, Lortie has been able to hire regular work crew for parts of the sauna. “I had precut all the rafters and already arranged it all. They came and nailed it all together and we put the walls up.”

Plans for Additional Getaway Space for Work and Relaxation

building a sauna

His intention all along was to build a room connected to the sauna. But that concept has expanded to include having some additional space outside of his home and something of a retreat from daily pressures. “I’ve made it more of a little sanctuary” to do work, relax, socialize, have a meal, or even sleep, he said. Lortie is trying to do the different elements together instead of just building a sauna alone first, even though that requires more time. “I want to make everything work all at once.”

The sauna building eventually will have a TV room, a living room, and possible art studio to accompany the existing loft with a railing around it and slide into wall ladder. High definition wires and cables are going to the television.

Lortie plans to have a surround sound speaker underneath where he placed all the speaker wires. He moved all the wires out of sight to go into a closet which will have a receiver, Blu-ray player, RF connection, and electronic eye.

A wireless Internet hub additionally will be inside the wall. The wires will be sealed with expanding foam insulation to keep out moisture when the sauna’s in use, even if moisture collects on the other side of the wood.

“If you’re doing something for yourself, you kind of have the freedom to take your time and not worry about how much money you’re making or every hour you work. You know also that your work is yours and you can satisfy yourself over its quality and permanence.”

increase home value

Ways to Increase Home Value Before Selling

Inexpensive and Simple Changes Can Boost Your Home’s Value

While North American real estate sales have continued to struggle over the past several years due to the economy, experts predict that homeowners will see an increase in sales in the spring of 2010. Low mortgage rates, tax benefits and lower prices will contribute to this increase in real estate sales. However, are homeowners prepared for the upcoming increase in home buyer traffic?

increase home value

Most homeowners would like to purchase a home that’s move-in ready. However, most home seller’s aren’t interested in making, or can’t afford, major changes or improvements to a home that’s being sold. There are a few simple changes that homeowners can make to boost the value of their home before putting it on the market.

Curb Appeal

curb appeal

First impressions are important, right? Curb appeal, the first thing potential buyers see when driving up to a home, is as important as the home’s inside appeal. Most homeowners feel that the condition of a home’s exterior is an indication of a home’s interior condition.

Paint is an inexpensive way to spruce up a home’s exterior. When painting a home for resale, homeowners should choose a neutral color that would be attractive to a wide variety of homeowners. Any damaged siding or porch floorboards should also be repaired before painting.

Lawn maintenance is also something that the homeowners should take into consideration when preparing to sell their home. Bushes and shrubs should be trimmed and grass should be cut. If landscaping is at a minimum, homeowners should invest in sturdy, colorful plants that complement the home’s exterior color.

Interior Paint and Floors

interior paint and floors

Experts agree that flooring is an essential key to boosting a home’s interior appeal . Homeowners don’t need to invest a lot of money to replace flooring. However, homeowners should be willing to invest time into rebuffing and waxing floors and steam cleaning carpet.

Paint is another way to freshen up a home’s interior. A fresh coat of paint will give a room, or an entire home, a new smell and feel that is enticing to prospective home buyers. Homeowners should be careful when choosing colors for repainting. Like the exterior of a home, interior paints should be a neutral color that will appeal to a wide variety of homeowners.

New Appliances and Fixtures

Replacing appliances and fixtures is an expensive change that some homeowners don’t want to commit to. However, simple fixture changes and an addition of one inexpensive appliance doesn’t have to be a budget buster for home sellers. Faucets in bath and kitchens can often be changed by almost any do-it-yourself novice and be picked up inexpensively at many home improvement stores.

New appliances can be costly. Homeowners should scour home improvement stores for discount, close-out or clearance appliances. Even adding one new appliance to a kitchen can modernize it enough to be appealing to a buyer. If homeowners are on a tight budget, used appliances can be purchased online or at local salvage stores. One thing that homeowners should consider when purchasing used appliances: there will be no warranty to offer home buyers, and used appliances will need to be checked for electrical issues.

Repairs and Improvements

home repair and improvement

Most prospective home buyers aren’t interested in purchasing a home that requires costly repairs and improvements and most are willing to pay more for homes that are already in tip-top shape. When considering putting their home on the market, homeowners should take inventory of all major areas of their home like the roof, electrical and foundation.

If possible, homeowners should make any repairs to these areas before listing their home for sale. Odds are, when the home is sold, an inspector will find any areas that need repair and the home buyer will request these be taken care of before the purchase is finalized.

Getting Rid of Clutter and Cleaning

getting rid of clutter

It seems that cleaning and getting rid of the clutter is a given. However, a lot of home owners tend to bypass this very important step. By presenting a clean and clutter free home, homeowners are presenting to buyers that home has been taken care of.

Homes on the market should be free of any unnecessary clutter and personal items. Family photos and artwork should be put away so that buyers can imagine their family mementos filling the walls and mantel. Also, any unnecessary furniture should be put into storage to that rooms appear larger.

As important as getting rid of clutter, cleaning is also an important step in the home selling process. Homeowners need to take a hard look at bathrooms and kitchens and make sure they are thoroughly cleaned before any viewings of the home. Mold and mildew should be cleaned away and mirrors should be free of spots and streaks.

Even though a homeowner’s furniture is probably not being sold with the house, all furniture should be neat and tidy. Slipcovers and a dust cloth can be an asset to a homeowner when trying to sell a house.

Gutter Cleaning in During Fall

Gutters are an important part of a home that keeps the rainwater from damaging both the interior and the exterior areas of your house. If left without maintenance and cleaning, the chances are that they will cause an extensive damage to your foundation and basement. Debris and leaves accumulate on the gutters and downspout leading to clogging. Clogs block rainwater from flowing through the gutters. This causes gutter overflow. It is therefore important to regularly clean the gutters and check for damaged areas that need repairs.

The best season to clean your gutters is during the fall, especially towards the end. This ensures that your gutters are clean as you wait for winter season, where you expect much freezing and melt water to fill your gutters.

Gutter cleaning is quite simple. First of all, you need to check for debris and damage. This requires a number of equipment which should be available before you get down to work.

  • A bucket that will be used to collect all the debris you remove from the gutter.
  • A ladder to help you reach and clean the gutter.
  • A hose that will provide water with enough pressure to clean out the gutter.
  • Gloves and eye wear to keep you from injuries.
  • Trimmers to trim off those overhanging branches causing the debris.
  • Drill and fasteners to help secure the loose area on the gutter.

Once you have all the equipment ready start by removing all the debris and place them on the bucket. This process will not eliminate all the dirt; this is where the hose pipe comes in as it will clear the smaller dirt off. Make sure to start from the downspout so as to make the work easier. As you are cleaning note if there places that may need repair or replacements such as cracks.

Tree branches overhanging the roof are the man cause for debris so make sure to trim off the branches after the cleaning process or as you clean. It the gutter has damaged parts make sure to follow up on the repair and if necessary replacement especially if your gutter has been around for some time.

Besides, you will need to ensure that the gutter system is well-installed. Loose gutters can be a major cause of leaky and overflowing rainwater. All these issues should be fixed during the fall.