Creative storage solutions for a small house - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 07-27-2009, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I have been wanting to build a house for a long time. Tonight we're going to meet with someone to get a real idea for cost, so that we can begin to plan .

Today we don't need details, just sq ft info, etc. But I just wondered what kind of tips anyone had for keeping small spaces tidy. We're thinking 700 to 1000 sq ft, we have 2 kids, 2 dogs and will probably have another baby. We're going to have a full basement, so we'll have that to create more space when kids are older and want own rooms, etc.

So these days I'm in day-dream land thinking of my OWN small, tidy house! I hope I'm not kidding myself ! I've been thinking of built in spaces, etc and wondered if anyone had examples, pics from their own homes or homes they've seen.

I know you MDC mamas always have great ideas, so hit me with some!

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#2 of 24 Old 07-28-2009, 09:08 AM
 
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I would put lots of shelving in the closets so that you don't have to have dressers. I would put a big kitchen island in and use that for my kitchen table. Also, I would hang a pot rack above the island.

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#3 of 24 Old 07-28-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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check out apartment therapy's small cool contest. tons of great ideas, not just in a 'showroom' type setting but in people's actual homes.
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#4 of 24 Old 07-29-2009, 02:10 AM
 
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I agree with doubledutch -- apartmenttherapy.com is a great resource. Also, European books on home design -- small homes are much more common there. Finally, A Pattern Language is a wonderful book for those designing their dream homes -- the book discusses many things that affect how a home feels to us. It has some great ideas about how to incorporate storage into a home in an unobtrusive way. My preference for a home that size would be to have *no* storage furniture...only built-ins and closets. Have fun

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#5 of 24 Old 07-29-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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Small private spaces, large public ones. That way you can have individual rooms for the children. Around me the code requires an egress from a basement for there to be living space down there (walkout door or really large windows). I second the shelving in the closets to avoid having a dresser.

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#6 of 24 Old 07-29-2009, 06:30 PM
 
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I second (third?) the suggestions for making the private spaces small and the "family" spaces larger, thus more of the focus. My childrens bedrooms are about 10x12, and offer exactly enough space, even though dormers take up a lot of the usable wall space. They have their beds, a bookshelf and night table, as well as under the bed storage. Homework gets done at the DR table. My dd does not have a dresser, but rather, wire shelving and baskets built into her closet. This has been so great because you can inexpensively add an extra basket or shelf as the need arises. It's much better than a bureau.

I find that things that are supposed to be 'must haves", like bureaus or even kitchen cabinets, don't really work for me. If you can, think about how you really use space, and what you want, as you go through the process. I'm redesigning my kitchen right now, and everything is up in the air! I hate cabinets that I have to reach down into, such as under a counter. I do much better with something like an antique armoir where I can see and reach everything, so that's part of my plan.

Good luck!
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#7 of 24 Old 08-02-2009, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Ksenia View Post
. Finally, A Pattern Language is a wonderful book for those designing their dream homes -- the book discusses many things that affect how a home feels to us.

Going to see if my library can get me this book...I feel so full of power to be able to make every decision in a home! I want our home to feel 'just right' and comfy....which is why i totally agree with small private/large public spaces. We have a sample floor plan that we really like with that idea in mind.

We live in MIL's house now (without her) and it has tons of great built-ins which I love! I don't really like living here for a number of reasons but it has taught me a lot. It's too big...but I think that without having had this experience I'd think I'd want something as big or bigger. Also I never thought I"d like built ins because they couldn't be moved/rearranged but the ones here are invaluable! I think the key is planning exactly what they're meant for, which I why I"m thinking/planning so much now for a home to be built next year!

Thanks so much for the great ideas/links/thoughts! I'd love to have them keep coming!

Linzie~~wife to Eli 10.1.06, mama to Summer 5.06 and John 7.08
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#8 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 10:31 AM
 
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I got super inspired watching 'Wasted Spaces' on DIY network (well, i stream it on Hulu). Anyway, it's for already existing homes, but it will give you good ideas about how to incorporate built-ins, etc...

I bought _A Pattern Language_ for Dh for Father's Day, and he is a builder type. But warning, he said it was hard to get through. Like a math text. I dont 'think he got very far. Maybe it gets better further on? Can someone comment who has read it?

We live in a small house, same family size as yours (though only one dog) and i cannot emphasize enough a MUD ROOM. Or at least, a specific entryway. Our front door goes right into our kitchen, so we lose 1/2 the space to jackets, boots, and every other sundry item that makes it's way in. We are slowly remodeling and a mudroom addition is one of the first priorities.

I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
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#9 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 01:07 PM
 
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yes, yes - a mudroom or other porch-type entrance where the "stuff" can get put away - shoes, coats,hats, bookbags, sports equipment, etc. We've got a very small front porch (about 4' by 4') but it's got a little built-in benchwith shoe racks underneath, and hooks to hang wet mittens/hats inwinter and is a godsend!
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#10 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 02:55 PM
 
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On a UK TV programme this week (The Home Show, in case you were interested) they cut a giant hatch into the loft space, put a sunlight in the roof over and boxed in the loft so that they still have a substantial amount of storage space but it adds light and roominess to the house. It might generally be worth checking out the UK and european design mags for ideas.
Other than that, add the storage space when you're building. We have a turn in our stairs, which we love, but this also means that we have a huge cupboard underneath them. Our airing cupboard isn't quite big enough, and- crucially- doesn't have enough shelves in there.
Also, all the storage in your home should go all the way to the ceiling. Increases space, limits the capacity for mess, what's not to love?

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#11 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 04:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stone Fence View Post
Small private spaces, large public ones. That way you can have individual rooms for the children. Around me the code requires an egress from a basement for there to be living space down there (walkout door or really large windows). I second the shelving in the closets to avoid having a dresser.
I totally agree with this. If I were designing my ideal house, everyone would have an individual room, but they would be very small (8x8 or smaller - big enough for a bed and necessary personal storage, and that's about it), and designed for sleeping and alone time, not as default play/living spaces. While I think the ability to have privacy is important, I don't think it's good for families to have the kids off in their own rooms all the time. Plus, a dedicated sleeping room supposedly promotes better sleep.

I'd have at least one quiet public space (library/study/retreat area, probably also doubling as a guest room) and one play/messy/living area. This could either be one big space with visual/noise barriers of some sort, or actual separate rooms.

Personally, I'd look at non-permanent, reconfigurable storage for closets, rather than built-in shelving, at least in kid closets. Much easier to adjust for changing needs as they grow.

We put in shelving about 18" below the ceiling in our kitchen and living room in our current house, which is good for storing less frequently used stuff relatively unobtrusively, both space-wise and sight-wise.

I love built-in bookshelves, and would definitely put some in if I owned a home!

DS born 6/03, DD1 born 9/06, DD2 born 10/10, DD3 born 4/14.
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#12 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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Vaulted ceilings so you can loft beds for desk space.
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#13 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 07:45 PM
 
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The trick is to make sure your stuff all has a home. Really pay attention to how you live and what you need space for.
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#14 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 08:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 100%mom View Post
I would put lots of shelving in the closets so that you don't have to have dressers. I would put a big kitchen island in and use that for my kitchen table. Also, I would hang a pot rack above the island.
i agree, although I think elfa might work just fine. My son has a big closet and chucking the dresser really just opens up a whole wall and makes it easier to keep it streamlined. Totally not original here, but I am always inspired by the Ikea catalogs.
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#15 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 03:04 AM
 
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Anther book recommendation--the "Not So Big House" series--very inspiring, filled with great ideas and photos!

lucky mom to Oliver, 8/6/07, and Finn, 11/28/10, and wife to DH
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#16 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 10:39 AM
 
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Anther book recommendation--the "Not So Big House" series--very inspiring, filled with great ideas and photos!
I was going to say just this as well.
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#17 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Knittin' in the Shade View Post
yes, yes - a mudroom or other porch-type entrance where the "stuff" can get put away - shoes, coats,hats, bookbags, sports equipment, etc. We've got a very small front porch (about 4' by 4') but it's got a little built-in benchwith shoe racks underneath, and hooks to hang wet mittens/hats inwinter and is a godsend!
I agree a mud room is important...I think they can be so beautiful esp. with a nice bench and hooks! We're going to have a walk out basement, so I think that will be where the wet dogs enter! Otherwise a well-planned entry/mudroom will work fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuba_River View Post
Anther book recommendation--the "Not So Big House" series--very inspiring, filled with great ideas and photos!
This was going to be next on my list! (I may be reading it sooner rather than later if the other book rec is that difficult!)

In case anyone else is reading this for ideas, I'll add some of my own:

In our current kitchen (MIL's house), there is a cupboard @ floor level that pulls out with bins for recycleables (may come back and add a pic here) This is been so wonderful....recycleables have cluttered every single other home we've lived in but no mess here! Recycling center

The TV is stored in a built in in the corner, it closes up and just looks like a beautiful piece of furniture if the TV's not in use (i'll come back and add a link here, too) It's in the corner so I think it uses up room that would other wise be wasted. TV open and messy
TV closed up and neat"][/URL]

Linzie~~wife to Eli 10.1.06, mama to Summer 5.06 and John 7.08
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#18 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 10:42 PM
 
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More reading for you: Little House on a Small Planet

Also, make sure to incorporate storage for any things like tools, outdoor/ sporting equipment etc. so it does not eat up your living space.

mom to a 7 year old lego fanatic and a 5 year old cross dresser
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#19 of 24 Old 08-12-2009, 10:13 AM
 
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Learn from my mistake. The mudroom should be at least twice as big as you think you'll need. 3 times if you can afford it. Also, tile it.

If you will be farming or gardening or have pets or children there is never enough space in the mudroom for all the different kinds of outerwear and footwear that you need.

We have resorted to more coat hooks in the powder room next to the mudroom. I may have to stick a boot tray in there too.

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#20 of 24 Old 08-31-2009, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Added some pics above....

Linzie~~wife to Eli 10.1.06, mama to Summer 5.06 and John 7.08
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#21 of 24 Old 08-31-2009, 07:13 PM
 
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http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n...tandresize.jpg

Linzie's second picture.

That is a huge transformation!
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#22 of 24 Old 08-31-2009, 09:26 PM
 
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I love the pull out recycling center! We, too, get overrun with recyclables and I haven't yet come up with a good way to contain them.

I love Not So Big House and the idea of having every space really functional. Having a really well thought out and designed 1000 sq ft can feel larger than a poorly designed 2000 sq ft. Built ins are awesome and can really make the room feel bigger just because bulky furniture isn't needed to hold the same amount of stuff! I definitely second shelves in decent sized closets so dressers aren't needed - eliminating my kids' dresser from the room has freed up a lot of floor space, giving more place to play.

We are in a 900 sq ft house that fits us pretty well with two small kids, but we'll have to figure out something for separate spaces when they get a little older (boy and girl.) One saving grace is wall of shelving in our living room that is the IKEA Pax closet system, and it just functions as the wall with the doors closed but holds all of my books, games, and media, our coat closet (house doesn't have one), holiday gear, exercise step, yoga equipment, and weights, spare bedding, you name it.

Really consider the functionality of your kitchen, since a small one can be quite efficient if you have it well laid out and with adequate storage available. Lazy susans in corner shelves, for example, really give you a lot of usable space that would otherwise be wasted.
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#23 of 24 Old 09-02-2009, 02:16 PM
 
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I bought _A Pattern Language_ for Dh for Father's Day, and he is a builder type. But warning, he said it was hard to get through. Like a math text. I dont 'think he got very far. Maybe it gets better further on? Can someone comment who has read it?
Really? I didn't find that at all. It's not really a read-cover-to-cover book. It has many small segments (patterns) that stand on their own, so you pick and choose which ones are relevant/important to you. For example you won't be looking at the ones about designing an entire community. The book has a lot of detail but it is organized, has diagrams, and lots of summaries. Here an example of a pattern:

Closets Between Rooms
Quote:
Mark all the rooms where you want closets. Then place the closets themselves on those interior walls which lie between two rooms and between rooms and passages where you need acoustic insulation. Place them so as to create transition spaces for the doors into the rooms. On no account put closets on exterior walls. It wastes the opportunity for good acoustic insulation and cuts off precious light.
Then there's an illustration that gives an example .

edited to add:
I don't think that a builder type would find this as interesting as a designer or home manager. It's not about building and materials, it's about how we use the space that we have and how the design affects the function. Non-home-managers might not really care about how the closets are placed because they don't put things away or because the home is not their workplace. Home managers tend to be more sensitive to how a home feels and tend to be able to analyze and intellectualize that more easily.

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#24 of 24 Old 09-02-2009, 02:46 PM
 
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i felt shelving in closets and not dressers was great! i also have floating shelves in all bedrooms and dining room and laundry room and basement by furnace and covered that off with hanging sheet all for extra storage

there is a show on the diy network called wasted spaces that shows how u can add storage to laundry room by adding a counter and cabinets it also showed how to use under the staircase storage for an office or storage closets or opening up the crowded foyer by adding a built in! great ideas and shows u how to complete all the projects on the diynetwork website

also if not enough cupboard space is an issue think of adding corner hutches in the dining room which i did because my house doesnt have a kitchen pantry which was a must for me so we installed two corner hutches in the corners of the attached dining room which gave plenty of storage!
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