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Guest Post – DIY Tricks to Make the Most of a Small Living Space

Thanks to Katie White from DIY Mother for this great guest post!!

Reducing your footprint doesn’t have to be uncomfortable

One of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact is to limit the size of your home. Small homes use less land and raw materials, cost much less to heat and cool, and you’ll be less tempted to fill them with things you don’t need. Still, if you’re feeling a little stir-crazy in a smaller home, you’re not alone; so here are a few little tricks to give yourself some breathing room without actually knocking down walls.

1. Kitchen Small kitchens can be noisy, crowded little pressure-cookers, breeding hot tempers and short fuses. Paint your kitchen in light, cool shades to help everyone relax, and if possible, coordinate the entire kitchen in two or three colors to avoid a busy, disorganized vibe. Another simple trick to increase the visual space in your kitchen is to try open shelving instead of cupboards. The fact that you can see the walls behind the cupboards makes the whole room feel more open. Remove your cupboard doors, fill the holes with putty, sand them down, and repaint in a matching color. 

2. Living Room The easiest way to open up your living room is to get things off the floor. Instead of a clunky bookshelf, try wall-mounted shelves. Small house plants and lighting can also be placed on the walls or ceiling (Hanging plants are especially good for small living rooms). Just like in the kitchen and bedroom, light penetration is everything. Remove sofa skirts, try a translucent coffee table, and hang a nice mirror or two to really expand the visual range. If you need new furniture, steer clear of round, rolled pieces—they fill up a room like nothing else.

3. Bedroom The simplest visual trick to open up your bedroom is to make your baseboards visible. Stilted furniture, wall-mounted shelves and light fixtures, and a skirtless bed frame can all increase the visual range in your bedroom and make it feel larger. Colors can also have a profound effect on the sense of space in your bedroom. A single accent wall painted in a bold, darker color can “stretch” your bedroom visually, especially if it’s the smaller wall. Paint the other three walls in light, airy colors that complement the accent wall. The room will feel more open, and it also adds a personal, expressive touch.

4. Bathroom Plumbing makes bathroom renovation a tricky proposition, but you can swap out a bulky vanity for a pedestal sink without too much damage to the delicate habitat of your sink fixtures. Make up for the loss of your drawers with an extra set of wall shelves, or a deeper medicine cabinet. To increase the light-penetration in your bathroom, swap out your shower curtain for a clear glass door (or a frosted privacy screen) to create wall-to-wall visibility. Textured wallpaper in a light color can also create illusory depth that makes a bathroom feel bigger; and finally, to avoid a sense of clutter, limit your bathroom décor to “singles”—one piece of art, one rug, one towel per person, etc. 

5. Storage The key to using your storage space efficiently is to think in three dimensions—rather than a junk drawer, hang a shoe organizer on your pantry door for odds and ends. It’ll keep your drawers and counters clear while leaving scissors, batteries, and pens accessible. To make space for your tools and “shed stuff”, check out a tankless gas water heater—tank heaters keep hundreds of gallons of water heated continually at a huge energy cost, and also crowd out your furnace room. Tankless heaters are much more energy efficient, and you can use the extra space for tools, home repair supplies—anything that you’d otherwise store in a shed or garage.

6. Water TankFactors to Consider in Locating Your Water Tank at Home. The water tank is an essential part of the practice of gathering water, regardless of whether your catchment area is on the rooftop or somewhere close to the ground. After all, rainwater goes to waste if it is not stored immediately upon collection.

Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.


  1. Love this article. Great ideas – painting one wall, open shelves, etc. Also liked finding DIY Mother. A new website I’ll read more of. Thanks again.

  2. Great points and great website!

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