For future homeowners faced with rising construction material and labor costs along with shrinking budgets, it is now more important than ever to keep building costs down. In addition, LEED for Homes and the National Green Building Standard encourages homes of less than 2,500 square feet. By simplifying lifestyles and striving for more sustainability today the savvy homeowners planning to build a new home are choosing small home floor plans for both economical and practical reasons.
In a nutshell, the essence of a good small home floor plan can be found in the quality of design over quantity of space where each small space is in use every day. Good efficient small house plans are ones that live larger by the quality of their spaces not by the size or volume and number of rooms. This can result in saving more money for the fine details that define who you are and allow you to achieve lots of charm on a small budget. You will be able to place more emphasis on interior detail and livability rather than on the overall size of a space.
Small home floor plans don't have to look or feel small. Consider, for example, the open space concept versus individual traditional rooms. Open space floor plans can feel larger than their actual size. Floor plans with interior views, rooms not constricted by four walls, tend to give the feeling of spaciousness as well as provide the added benefit of visual interest. This type of floor plan will generally tie together different spaces within the home. A view of interior spaces enabled from open floor plans achieves the added benefit of not feeling claustrophobic.
DOUBLE DUTY AREAS
Building big just to allow for lots of furniture or functions that will not always be needed may not make economical sense. A better solution would be to incorporate into the plan double duty rooms and areas. There may be many activities taking place in one room, separated only by furniture, alcoves, or nooks. One space can accommodate several different activities, thereby negating the need to have separate rooms for each activity.
Children's rooms can become guest bedrooms or home offices as many more homeowners are now working from home. Each space is defined by the activities that take place in them. It's a good idea to plan on using adaptable rooms/spaces, each designed to share various functions and, therefore, in use all the time.
The Great Room with cathedral ceilings is ideal for larger gatherings and on warm summer days can give the feeling of coolness and breathability. However, you can also break up this space by dividing it into separate areas either with furnishings, window seat, dropped ceilings or fireplace to create intimate cozy alcoves and spaces for 1 or 2 people all within the same room.
Another example is the dining area which can serve both formal and informal guests. Any unsightly views to dirty dishes for formal guests when you don't have a formal dining room can be hidden in a variety of ways – raised counter top between the kitchen and dining area, sink and dishwasher placed so as not to be in full view or furnishings such as panel screens.
Spaces within a large space can be defined by several means:
- Variation in flooring;
- Changes in ceiling height;
- Alcoves; built-ins;
- Trim treatment;
- Wall coverings/colors and furnishing.
Also, consider that storage takes all shapes and kinds and doesn't have to be an actual closet. Built-ins under roof wings, window seats or nooks and crannies can often times be more useful and accessible and, therefore, make more efficient use of space. They can also serve as functional and aesthetic display shelves for books or artwork. This is a simple way to reduce the overall square footage and make a small home floor plan more feasible.
In minimizing the number of bathrooms you will actually need give careful consideration to which bathrooms can be shared. However, directly connecting 2 guest bedrooms with one bath can be rather awkward and uncomfortable for guests to share. Look instead for a bath with a single entrance yet easily accessible from both bedrooms. This also allows the use of that bathroom by day guests and yourselves as well.
Outside living spaces almost always make a smaller floor plan feel larger and add to the functional square footage of a house. Covered porches have the added advantage of making the space more usable when shelter from weather is a factor and, thus, make the space more integrated with the house. The exterior visual element of a covered porch extends the roof-line of a small house making the overall appearance seem larger.
The anatomy of a spacious, comfortable small home floor plan is found in the efficient use of multi-purpose and functional spaces that serve all the occupants well, all of the time. Small home floor plans make the best use of your money.