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  • Writer's pictureThe ADU Guru

How To Make Your Small ADU Feel Big

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

There’s a new trend that’s taking the world by storm—tiny houses. Do a quick search over social media platforms such as Youtube, and you’ll see a plethora of videos featuring tiny houses made from converted container vans to straight-up “built-from-scratch” ones. You will also see yurts converted into a tiny, full-functional abode complete with all the conveniences of modern living!

The tiny house movement, as some people in the industry would call it, emphasizes the idea that it’s okay to dream of having a house even if you don’t confine your notion of a house to those traditional ones. The movement teaches us that we can still live big even with a limited amount of real estate under our name.

What’s important is that we make the most out of that limited space in such a way that we can still live comfortably.

Some of these houses have an area of just more than a few hundred square feet. This makes it similar to our beloved ADUs.

So, whether you’re living in a tiny house somewhere off-grid or planning to live in your ADU within the city, how do you make the most out of your limited real estate? We have several ideas:

1. Organize and Declutter

When you’re planning to transfer to an ADU, there are old habits from your regular house that you might not be able to bring and one of which is being a hoarder.

The first thing you have to do when you have a smaller space is to learn to organize your belongings in such a way that you have to let go of things that don’t “bring you joy” (as popularized by the organizing expert Marie Kondo). Thus, decluttering is an obvious first step to clearing up your space. The great news is that you don’t have to spend anything to start decluttering! You can start by going over your things and putting away or donating those that you don’t see yourself using in the immediate future (or anytime at all). If an item holds any sentimental value, consider renting a storage space and putting them there instead.

Learning how to keep your things organized and how to declutter is more than just a one-time thing. This is actually a habit that you need to develop. Experts will tell you that you have to earn your free space.

A good way to get into regular decluttering is to have a bin dedicated to clutter. This bin becomes the “catch-all” for things that have migrated downstairs and/or are out of place. Once a day, make it a habit to put back everything you’ve accumulated in the basket. This is a short yet effective exercise to maintain clutter-free and calm spaces before you go to sleep.

2. Clear the floors and the walls

Here’s another aspect we have to unlearn when moving to an ADU. In our old space, we’re used to using our floors for extra “storage” spots. We now have to remember that the more free floor space, the bigger the room will feel.

Sometimes, we tend to develop this nasty habit of leaving things on the floor. For example, we just went to a book sale and bought a few good reads. You thought that you’d finally give reading a chance, so to ensure this happens, you piled up the books on the floor just next to your favorite couch.

A few days, weeks, or months later, you still haven’t picked up any of these books. They are now a mess, and the act of leaving them there actually encroaches upon your living space. Now picture a lot of books similarly situated! Won’t this suffocate you?

When you’re in a small area, keeping your floors free of any items aside from the customary furniture is imperative. It widens your living space, making it larger than usual.

This applies to the floor space between furniture and walls, too. When all your furniture is set against the walls, it really outlines the boundaries of your room and highlights how small that space is. Making sure some of your furniture has a little air between the walls creates a better sense of roominess.

3. Store smartly

What’s common with the videos you see featuring tiny houses is how they are so creative when utilizing otherwise dead spaces and converting them into storage spots.

Living in other small spaces like ADUs is not that different. You just have to be more creative in where you store your stuff, but it helps if you’re also more critical with what you choose to have out. You can keep it simple by folding blankets into a chest or basket, having a dedicated basket for pet toys, and hanging photos instead of resting them on furniture.

Multi-functional furniture that doubles as storage is a great way to optimize your space. Seats, coffee tables, and ottomans with hidden storage can help keep blankets, movies, games, or clutter off of furniture and the floors. You can also install floating shelves to elongate the walls and store things away from the floor.

4. Keep the furniture low

We know you’re excited to start a new chapter of your life. But when buying new furniture, remember to keep it low.

Furniture that is generally lower can help an area feel much bigger simply because it leaves more open space above. This applies to the leg style of furniture, too; open or post-style legs will show more space and appear to be floating compared to large furniture that rests directly on the floor.

Having large, bulky furniture will only block your line of sight and will give a perception that your space is tinier than the actual.

5. Smart Design

Smart design is all about combining form with function. This means that one of the important purposes of a home with a smart design is that it is built for the next generation. From the foundation to the small details within the unit, the smart design considers the home's overall attractiveness and aesthetic appeal while ensuring that the concept will still be relevant in the future.

Another area that smart design considers is embracing eco-friendly living. A home with a smart design may combine elements like water recycling, rainwater harvesting, waste management, solar-powered energy, etc. Not only are these features best for the environment, but they also help bring down your monthly electricity bills.

Final Words

There are still several other techniques and practices you can resort to make your small room feel larger. You can utilize mirrors and paint your spaces with light colors to give the perception that it’s airy and wide. A strategically placed lighting can also help create space.

Excited to find out how you can move into an ADU or how you can get your ADU journey started? Book your appointment today with one of our ADU specialists, and we will help you build an ADU that suits you best.

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