Space Saving Strategies For Your Home

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

You’ll probably be shocked to hear that the average cost to build a new home is between $150-300 per square foot, depending on where you’re at in the US. That means for a 2,000 square foot house, you’re looking at $300,000 to $600,000 all in, plus the cost of land.

Don’t get discouraged, though! The increase in building cost has helped people realize that bigger isn’t always better. If you’re willing to get creative, you can use these space saving strategies, products, and case studies to make the most of every square foot and live a more fulfilling life with less.


Space Saving Strategies

1. Capitalize on nooks & crannies

Built-ins are your best friend. Recess shelves into the wall cavity above a toilet to display extra towels and toilet paper. Keep things tidy to the side of the fireplace with a console cabinet and bookshelves or get practical with vertical firewood storage. Create a reading nook or place of refuge by building in a window bench with storage below for the kids’ toys or rainy-day craft supplies. Whatever you do, the principal is simple: hide clutter, but keep your stuff close to where you’ll use it.

2. Embrace modular

Peg boards add texture and interest to that blank wall in your kitchen or utility room. And they’re super practical! Hang up tools like pots, pans, and colanders alongside decorative items like a single-stem vase or even live herbs. Also invest in multi-function furniture. Instead of a glass coffee table, what about a group of 16” wood cubes that can be used as seating for large gatherings? Invest in pieces that allow you to move, change, and rearrange your space as your needs develop over time.

3. Trim the fat

When thinking about a new home, start by dreaming up a list of the functional needs you have rather than starting with a list of actual rooms. Of course you need private space to sleep at night, but who says that has to be a 12x12 room with 4 walls and a door? It’s always better to start broad and then get specific. And it will help you realize what spaces can be combined based on similar functions, rather than saying we need a Mudroom and a Laundry Room off the bat. The key is to be open-minded. It’ll allow a lot more room for creativity. And if you’re still wanting to go more traditional with formal spaces in the end, you still have the opportunity to, but it’s much harder to do the reverse!


Double-Duty Products

In architecture school, we were taught that everything better have two good reasons for being there. I think that’s a great guiding principle when buying anything. For example, when you're clothes shopping, consider if you’ll wear the garment for more than just one season. When grocery shopping, ask what two recipes you can make to use up an ingredient. And when furniture shopping, ask if you can sit and sleep on it, or if it can store something and display something.

1. Modular shelving

IKEA should be your go-to place for double-duty #interiorinspo. Their affordable, versatile, hackable products perfectly combine form and function to bring practical flair to your home. Some of our favorites are the modular IVAR and EKET shelving systems.

2. Medicine cabinet revival

Sophisticated Robern medicine cabinets with integrated lighting will be a serious upgrade for your bathroom.

3. Everything in the kitchen sink

Many plumbing fixture companies like Kohler and Franke have released kitchen sinks that can serve as full prep stations with integrated cutting boards and tool storage.

4. Art & entertainment

Even Samsung caught on with the new Frame TV. It displays artwork when not in use and fits in perfectly on your gallery wall. Nobody will know it’s also your New Girl binge device of choice!


Case Studies

There are so many great examples of people who have embraced small living over the last 75 years, but we want to briefly mention 5.

1. Rolling Huts by Olson Kundig

Only 200 square feet each, the Rolling Huts employ modular cubes that can be seats, tables, or even stack together as a second bed.

2. Chukanut Residence by Miller Hull

Miller Hull’s use of large windows, tall ceilings, and built-ins make the 1,400 square feet feel significantly larger. Without feeling cluttered, every nook is carefully crafted to provide extra display and storage space.

3. Glass House by Philip Johnson

Johnson was able to create comfortable, separate spaces without any interior partition walls because he thought about the function of the spaces rather than immediately boxing them into rooms. Floor to ceiling glass around the entire home help it feel significantly larger by engaging with nature around the property.

4. Bachman-Wilson House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Famous for his meticulous control of the entire project down to custom furniture, the Bachman-Wilson House is a marvel for how it balances display with storage and comfortably separates function into compact spaces.

5. Eames House by Charles and Ray Eames

The Eames lived by the motto, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” One of many speculative homes they designed, Case Study House No. 8 in the Pacific Palisades is a brilliant example of paring things down to the bare necessities. The compact rectangular floor plan is full of multi-functional, transformable spaces anchored by built-in pieces—even a sofa!—that display the “ephemera of life.”


Want more tips?

Check out this Pinterest board for more inspiration images and links to articles and photos of the case studies:


Less is better.


Caleb Amundson is an interior architect with experience in residential remodeling and building custom furniture. He currently lives and works between Kansas City, Lawrence, and Manhattan, KS.

Caleb Amundson