“Small spaces don’t scare me, I actually get excited about them,” shares Bre Hance, Principal Designer and Owner of InHance Interiors, a Los Angeles design-build firm boasting celebrity clientele and over 17.6k followers on Instagram. “I feel like there’s so much more potential to make them special and give them character.”
Within their limited dimensions, small rooms hold endless possibilities to level up your home. All you need is some inspiration and professional guidance to get started — both of which we’ve got you covered. Ignite your passion for micro-design with these chic room addition ideas for small homes.
1. Chic laundry room
A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that laundry rooms rank high among buyers’ most wanted amenities. Whether you convert an existing space or stretch for a room addition, design your laundry with care to add cheer to this chore space.
Build a countertop over your washer and dryer with custom cabinets overhead. If you own top-loaders, skip the shelf and instead opt for shorter cabinets with a drying bar underneath. Utilize vertical space with wall hooks, a fold-out ironing board, and slim wall organizers.
After storage, prioritize noise reduction to minimize disturbance in adjacent rooms. Place vibration pads under the machines to reduce low-frequency noise by up to 30%. For additional soundproofing, add a door sweep and cover your machines with a curtain like this Sun Zero Extreme Norway Curtains.
Treat your laundry room as an accent to your overall home design; it doesn’t need to match material for material. Hance advises:
“One approach is, ‘go big or go home.’ Make it pack a punch — don’t make it feel small and boring. And then the other side, if the client is afraid of taking risks like that, is to go simple. Don’t do an overly stated, bold pattern. Keep it light and bright and clean and don’t draw attention to it.”
Create a custom statement with a colorful tile backsplash and complementary cabinets. For the right amount of cohesion, stay true to your home’s hardware and general style (contemporary, farmhouse, Spanish, etc.).
2. Creative home office
With over 42% of the U.S. labor force working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the home office swiftly climbed to the top of homeowners’ wish lists. Our Top Agent Insights Survey for Q2 2020 showed that a designated home office ranks as one of the most desirable features for homebuyers post-coronavirus. Simply add a desk and custom cabinetry, and you’ll transform your spare room into buyer-bait.
Craft a beautiful, practical office in a tight space with custom built-ins and decorative floating shelves. Incorporate sliding trays for your keyboard and printer so you can tuck them out of sight when you’re not working. In the smallest spaces, opt for a wall-mounted desk like SVALNÄS from IKEA or a fold-out desk like this Anda Norr from Zola.
As you tailor your office to suit your needs, heed the advice of top real estate agent Allison Harris and keep your future buyers in mind:
“As you’re designing these spaces, consider if you could make them useful for something else,” shares Harris, who sells 85% more single-family homes than the average Savannah, GA agent.
“The desk portion of my built-in is also the same dimensions that you would use for a changing table. I did that on purpose so that the smallest room in the house could be used as a nursery if somebody wanted to.”
Harris also specially designed her built-ins so a buyer could easily remove them if they preferred to work with a blank canvas. “In a listing, you could even say, “built-in cabinets in home office can be removed prior to closing upon request,”” she adds.
Furnish the room with items that double as storage, such as an upholstered storage bench under the window or corner reading chair with a matching ottoman.
Whether you add bookshelves to your built-ins or purchase a bookcase, wallpaper the backing for a dash of contemporary charm. Save the shelf space for your best books and decorative items, and store your office supplies in designated wall organizers like these stylish options from Pottery Barn.
Create the illusion of higher ceilings by hanging curtains at ceiling height, rather than directly above the window frame. You can also draw the eye up with decorative wall sconces placed 60 to 72 inches above the floor, depending on room height. Finally, anchor the room with a colorful area rug for a caffeine-free energy booster.
3. Function-forward mudroom
Small, but mighty, a mudroom boasts four-season storage and the ability to keep your home cleaner. Repurpose the space around your front or back door, designate a wall in the garage, or enclose a back porch room, and voila! You’ve added a room to your small house.
When planning this room addition, identify the “who” and “how” behind it: who will use this space and how will they use it? Here’s some inspo for reference:
- Kids’ drop-zone: Design easy-to-reach cubbies and hooks for your kids to drop their belongings on the way in (so they don’t scatter them around the living room instead!). At grown-up height, line a shelf with wicker baskets for items like grocery bags, dog leashes, and flashlights.
- Dog washing station: Spoil Fido with a custom pet washing station, ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 depending on intricacy. Surround the station with storage cabinets to house pet food and supplies.
- Dry room for winter sports: Incorporate specialty storage for your skis and snowboards like this Colorado-made snowboard rack. Keep the space toasty and dry with heated flooring and a dehumidifier camouflaged in custom cabinetry.
Regardless of the purpose, opt for low-maintenance flooring with a slight pattern or texture to help hide mud and debris in between cleanings. Install neutral ceramic tiles, enhanced with a non-slip seal for safety, or go vinyl for greater affordability. For an indoor-outdoor feel, brick and natural stone offer rustic looks and unparalleled durability.
Play with textures to define this transitional space as it’s own room. Install shiplap, beadboard, or V-groove paneling on the primary storage wall with matching built-in bench seating. To give her clients an extra custom finish, Hansen incorporated metallic grating in the bench’s front panel. This elevates the bench’s design, while also providing ventilation for its containments.
“As a designer, making everything feel really intentional and every wall is well used is really how you approach a small space. So when you see it all come to life, you’re like ‘wow we really brought that.’ It’s pretty and it’s very practical,” she comments.
4. Extended eat-in kitchen
Small kitchen owners rejoice — there’s a way to accommodate a dining area even in the smallest of spaces. Extend your kitchen’s usable space by removing the wall to the dining room or add-on with a bump-out.
Not only will an eat-in kitchen make your home feel bigger, but it will also bring you a strong return on investment when it’s time to sell. According to the NAHB, 86% of homebuyers prefer their kitchen and dining room to be partially or completely connected.
Help your small kitchen reach its potential with help from a professional designer. They’ll devise creative solutions unique to your dimensions and wish-list. Hance shares the details on a recent out-of-the-box kitchen extension:
“We couldn’t tear down walls, we couldn’t add on — we really had to work within the existing footprint. So we put our thinking caps on and when I went to the drawing board, I came up with the idea to wrap the peninsula part around the corner and add legs. You’ll notice that the shelves are also wrapped around, as opposed to a shelf on the kitchen side and a shelf on the other side.”
The final product gave the homeowners eat-in dining for two, plus a banquette complete with window bench for hosting, all within their modest budget.
Go light on the furniture — choose a dining table and chair set with slender legs to maintain a spacious appearance. If your layout permits, build a bench under the window to pair with the dining table; this allows you to set the table closer to the wall. For added depth, paint an accent wall behind the table a dark navy or apply vertical striped wallpaper. This will help distinguish the dining area and create visual interest which enhances perceived room size. Finally, accessorize with a gorgeous pendant light for ample lighting and sophistication.
5. Under-the-stairs powder room
“The things that are going to be the highest ROI are going to be bedrooms and bathrooms because they’ll take you into a new price point generally per square foot. You’re going to see the biggest increase if you have a 3/1 and you turn it into a 4/2 or 3/2,” Harris explains.
Preserve as much open air as possible with a floating or pedestal style sink, rather than one with a cabinet base. Consider the maximum ceiling height needed at the front of the toilet to determine placement; you may be able to squeeze one in beneath a slanted ceiling, depending on the degree of the slope.
An all-white design with ample lighting will keep this room quaint, not claustrophobic. Bounce the light off the walls with an oval mirror flanked by minimalistic glass sconces. For even more refraction, cover the walls with ceramic tile or headboard coated in semi-gloss paint. Keep decor to a minimum, hanging a single piece of wall art for interest.
Even small rooms can make a big impact
Small room additions come with their challenges, but when executed correctly, add immense character to your home. A final word to the wise:
“When planning for a small room, plan,” advises Hance. “Don’t just start buying pieces, because you really need to critically think through each wall space, how the lamp is fitting, what the sofa fits like on the wall, the pile height of the rug. You want to think through those details to make it not feel like a cramped, small space.”