Give your rooms a fresh, new purpose

October 22, 2005|By THE HARTFORD COURANT

Designers like to use the term "less is more" to describe what the interior of a house should look like. Less clutter, fewer pieces of furniture, less space. But it wasn't until architect Sarah Susanka came along with her Not So Big House series of books that homeowners could actually see what "less is more" looked like.

Now Susanka and co-author Marc Vassallo are out with a new entry, Inside the Not So Big House, full of more ideas for those not caught up in McMansion fever.

Smart use of space is key to design in a small space, Susanka says. She offers these tips for making the most of your limited space:

Make a list of all the rooms in your house. Measure the square footage, and assess how frequently you use that room.

If you find you're using a room less than half-a-dozen times a year, consider making it serve a different function or making it do double duty. If your dining room is used just two or three times a year, turn it into a library, or a room to pay bills, or a study where kids can do homework - any activity that requires a good-sized table. Or line the dining room with bookshelves, add a couple of comfortable chairs, and create a library.

Can you think of more ways to use the living room?

The guest bedroom is often empty, waiting for guests. What about making it into an upstairs den, or a home office? When the guests come, a quick cleanup and you'll have the bedroom back.

If you have a house with loads more room than you need, re-evaluate how you are using certain rooms. Just because we refer to them by certain names doesn't mean we have to use them for that activity. You could be short of space in the dining room and have too much in the living room. Could they swap functions, or change roles? Make the rooms fit your needs.

For remodeling purposes, if you find you have a room and you don't really know why you don't use it, take a look to see if it's visible from the main living area. If there's not a visual connection, chances are it will not be used. Make an opening in a wall to allow you to see from one space to another. As soon as you do that, you'll find it will start being used because you can see it. It's one of those super-simple things that really works.

Another basic idea: Make sure the furniture that you have in the room that isn't getting used is comfortable, and not for show. If a piece is too formal, we won't use it today, because we don't live formally.

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