Is it possible to be small someplaces & not so others?

Lady_TamaraJanuary 8, 2014

I have my land and my dreams but money is always a limitation to say nothing about having enough to enjoy but not having so much that one is always cleaning.

I dream of a huge kitchen (having been in an apartment galley one for over 2 decades) but perhaps not for the dining room since I never entertain.

I look at various plans and wonder where do people put all their books? I see the pictures of small houses and see people with past times that are not gear intensive.

I am not knocking the small house side just wondering at this point is that an option I should look at.

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So maybe you have a kitchen with an eating area incorporated. There's no need to have both an eat-in kitchen and a formal, completely separate dining room if you don't want one. Or you have a kitchen with a small eating area, and a living room with a small table that can be a game table, card table or formal dining table.

As for books, bookshelves can go into just about any room. I'd steer clear of the bathroom for humidity reasons, but any other room in your house is fair game. You could have wider hallways and line one or both sides with bookshelves. Put built-ins in the living room and family room. Have a small room that is an office/library and have built-in bookshelves on three or four walls.

Friends of mine don't use their formal dining room much, just a couple of times a year at holidays. So they had bookshelves built-in on two walls, floor to ceiling, and use the room as a library/homework room for most of the year.

In my house, there are bookcases in the study, the living room, the kitchen (cookbooks, mostly) and my bedroom.

Go to and browse for "books," "built in bookcases," and "bookcases" to get some ideas on how to incorporate lots and lots of books into your house. If you are building, it should be fairly easy to get enough space for your books.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 7:49AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I agree with camlan re designing rooms that work with the function you want out of the home, and books being very easy to build into any room.

Small houses are worth considering esp if you want to keep down will get some benefit from building costs, but probably less than you'd is not still have to pay for the trades to show up regardless of if they are building a 800 sq ft home or a 5000 sq ft home, and baths and kitchens are the most expensive which all homes have...building out just sheet rock and 2x4s is relatively cheap. However, when you consider the ongoing costs of heating/cooling, insurance, taxes, furnishing, maintenance, that's where building small really pays off.

On your kitchen though, I would suggest that you visit some model homes and spend some time just imagining yourself operating in the kitchen. While tiny kitchens can be difficult, too large kitchens can be worse. The key is to find balance that works best for you.

We have a kitchen that's open to our FR and a breakfast nook and we spend 90% of our time in this one room. If we didn't entertain, it would be more than adequate. So perhaps that's a design element for you to allows for me to have plenty of open space that feels large, while keeping my actual working space convenient and efficient....

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 9:13AM
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'Not So Big House' doesn't always mean small. I think that's what a lot of people are trying to incorporate into their planning. Not duplicating spaces and making rooms more linked to each other. Not necessarily all open to each other, but keeping sight lines and bringing light into the spaces.

I like larger spaces but fewer rooms. Not everyone needs a formal living room and dining room...and if you don't, then maybe 'Not So Big' might be for you :)

Here's a link....

Here is a link that might be useful: Not So Big website

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:34PM
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I think it's absolutely possible. Like others mentioned it depends on designing for your needs. We are a gear loving family. We built a separate bike garage to house the family's 12 bikes plus the skis and snowboards. We also have a great rack system in garage for the SUPs and kayaks. When we lived in co, we used an unfinished walkout basement to house most of our sports gear. In the new house we are maximizing the space allotted to public areas while minimizing the size of private spaces. The mbr will only have a large luxury shower no tub. The extra sq footage will likely be closet space, customized closets to best utilize the space (thinking a desk in one guest room closet) plus that guest room will double as a family spare tv room/reading room with built ins and a upholstered daybed with pop up trundle, window seat and a comfy recliner. In a small space I think it's important to identify exactly how you live in a house, what do you need to be happy. Then it's getting creative to meet those needs. Floor to ceiling cabinets for crafts? A basement recording studio with acoustic tiles? A bonus room over the garage turned gym?

Don't rule it out, until you've determined just how much space you need. Most people don't actually live in all 5000 sq ft 0f the mcmansion home. I have seen plenty of 1800 sq ft home plans with large welcoming kitchens. Think right sized, not small or limited.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 2:26AM
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The house I'm building is fairly small (1350), but should live large. There is only one bedroom, although there is room for a couple more in the basement, if we should ever need them. We designed the house based on priorities for US, not resale. The kitchen is large for the house size, and designed for two cooks. The entire back of the house is essentially open, with partial walls to give the impression of separate rooms without actually dividing them.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 7:23AM
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As many of these posters have mentioned, getting the storage you need for the things you use is key.

Think of how storage is packed into every inch of an RV, for example. Or storage on a boat.

The smaller your space, the more carefully storage has to be considered and worked out, in large part because your options for buying suitable storage furniture are limited. And built-ins seem to take up less space than an equivalent-sized piece of furniture.

For example, you could build in an entire wall of storage in your living room. Across the bottom, have cabinets with doors to provide closed storage for just about anything that will fit. Then on top of the cabinets, have bookshelves. The shelves will not be as deep as the cabinets, so you will also have a bit of display space on the top of the cabinets. And plenty of space for books.

You could also plan the bookshelves so that your tv will fit there. Then you can hide all the related "boxes" in the lower cabinets, or arrange them neatly on the shelves.

And the shelves can hold things other than books. Use attractive boxes or bins to hold lots of smaller items.

You can put furniture in front of that storage wall. Either float a sofa a couple of feet out from the wall, with enough room to open the cabinet doors, or place easy-to-move chairs a few inches from the wall.

My cousin built his own smaller home and in the design, he included a small 6' x 6' room that is for nothing but storage, since the house does not have an attic or basement. He lined the walls of the room with shelves and cabinets, and leaves the center open for storing things like the vacuum cleaner and the fake Christmas tree. It's very well organized and everything is neatly labeled. He has a ton of skiing gear in there, as well.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:54AM
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Hi there
I have always lived in a small house, raised our family here and now we are empty nesters with two big dogs. House is under 1200 square feet. Books - yep! Hallways are prefect for shallow shelves, and dining room walls (library/dining room). Think of bookcases as layering -put them behind sofas, headboards. Rooms have to do double duty - I shove my rectangular dining table against the wall and use the room as a family room. When the kids all come home, push the table out, move the chairs around and its a dining room. Drop leaf tables are great to have around, or pull out a card table-with a beautiful table cloth in front of the fireplace=people feel very fussed over.

I watch old I Love Lucy episodes in her apartment - I know its a stage but she gets a lot of mileage out of it.

Hope this helps-Tea

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:28PM
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I just built a small house, and like you, wanted a HUGE kitchen because I love to bake, but like you, saw no real use for a dining room.

I built my kitchen huge (24'x15') and put a raised bar counter on it for eating. Then because I knew someday I might need some dining space, I made sure I could stuff a table in the space, but know I won't normally keep one.

The livingroom is large enough for entertaining, but I focussed on using lots of built-in nooks and wall mounted tv/shelves, so that I'm not wasting floor space with this stuff.

The master bedroom is the same way. I used ceiling hung beside lights, so I could have smaller night stands. I hung the tv on the wall. I converted a bi-fold door into double doors, so that I could have swinging doors into the space without 3' of clearance.

My spare bedroom, is currently considered the study, and to hide my plumbing pipes, I opted for built-in bookshelves instead of putting the plumbing in a false wall. It's great because like you, I have all those books to store!

I also utilized my attic space for extra storage of things that don't mind the temperature extremes.

The space under the stairs is for the wine...

Just really think about how you use the space and what matters to you! Don't give up that huge kitchen because people think you need a dining room. And don't sell those books because you have no spot for shelving!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 3:34PM
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