Most new homeowners, seeking to add their own personal style to a house, find themselves rearranging furniture and repainting walls. Not so for the owners of the historic shotgun house. First, they had to make the structure habitable by putting in electricity and plumbing. They also wanted to alter the traditional layout -- a series of small rooms, one after the other -- into something more appropriate for modern living.
The homeowners removed doors that closed off each room and had a wall torn down between the dining room and kitchen. Now, the long, open space is casual and comfortable, a perfect example of how to maximize minimal square footage. From the front door, visitors can see the dining area, kitchen, and even the back door.
Warm white paint on the walls brightens things up, making the most of natural light. White paint on the ceiling makes it seem even taller. If you're lucky enough to have high ceilings, enhance them by using tone-on-tone colors on the ceiling, walls, and trim. Even a tiny space feels larger when it has a lot of headroom.
Texture keeps the color scheme interesting. Woven fabrics on the sofa, armchair, and dining chairs contribute to the casual but sophisticated look. Monochromatic hues work best when a color is used in all its varying tones. If you don't believe cream and taupe come in more than one tone, pick up a paint card at a home-improvement store.
Here, the homeowners chose to refinish the existing hardwood floors. The expanse of gleaming wood draws the eye from room to room.
Ask yourself if a piece adds beauty to your home or if it just adds clutter. Instead of hanging an assortment of random frames here and there, hang an oversize painting, like these homeowners did between the dining room and kitchen.
Tips for Creating Openness
In the living room, a comfortable sofa and one armchair provide seating. Both items have exposed legs which give the illusion of more floorspace. The furniture's neutral tones blend well with the wall color, a simple trick to open up the space.
The coffee table is another example of visual trickery. The glass top has plenty of room for magazines or flowers, but the top disappears with minimal accessories, allowing a view of the hardwood floors below.
The homeowners chose to hang three ceiling fans down the length of the space. They minimized the fans' visual impact by choosing white fixtures that blend into the ceiling and walls.
No matter how compact your space might be, good lighting helps it look bigger. They chose recessed lighting for the kitchen area which, by its very nature, takes up little space. And unlike hanging light fixtures, it doesn't demand attention; instead, it illuminates various focal points.
The dining area's fireplace is one of five that are original to this home.
The homeowners wanted an update but without the home losing its personality and its historical identity.
If you have a small home, make the most of it by preserving elements that add panache. Then your itty-bitty space will shine.