The Ultimate Green - Building Smaller

A home’s energy usage can be reduced by simply building a smaller home.  And a smaller energy bill is just the beginning, there’s also the need for fewer building materials and maintenance in a smaller home.  A smaller home doesn’t have to appear or feel small.  In creating a smaller home that really works, avoid downsizing everything in a large home to a smaller space; doing so just makes everything seem smaller.  Downsize by using the space more efficiently while creating an open plan using these easy tips:

  • Eliminate little used rooms.  Examine how much time will be spent in formal rooms, such as the formal living and dining rooms.  If the answer is a few hours a month, consider eliminating these rooms and transferring their uses to other rooms.

  • Create multiuse rooms.  A casual eating space can be used formally if it’s large enough for a dinner party and has a level of detail that enhances a special occasion.  The added bonus is that you get to enjoy this room every day instead of twice a year!  Also think about combining uses, such as laundry and closet space, or guest room and study.
  • Design small niches for designated activities.  With the growth of personal computing devices, it makes more sense to create a small office niche than to dedicate an entire room to a computer.  Additionally, a window seat makes a great place to get away while only added a little space.  

  • Use built-ins.  Nothing creates a sense of claustrophobia more than clutter.  Analyze where your clutter collects and provide storage in those places.  The place where you commonly enter the house is one of the most critical.  Providing a place for shoes, coats, and backpacks is obvious, but also think about where you’ll sort the mail, charge the phones, and keep the all-important junk drawer.
  • Minimize dedicated circulation spaces.   One key element to designing an efficient home is a centralized stair location.  Also, informal circulation paths can run through the edges of rooms, making rooms feel larger and the plan more open.
  • Include an outdoor room.  The spaces you create outside can have a huge impact on the way your house feels on the inside.   A well designed outdoor space should have some sense of boundary, either at the edges or above.  A railing or low wall can provide an edge, while a roof or trellis above create a sense of privacy and enclosure.