Living in a small home is somewhat an expectation these days, especially for those living in coveted Vancouver postal codes (V5s, V6s, and V7s). It’s a classic case of supply and demand, and in order to satisfy that, developers squeeze as many units as possible into their builds. How do they do this? Units get smaller. Take 40-60 sqft off each of the seven (1 and 2 bedroom) units per floor and you can squeeze in an eighth (studio) unit.
Statistics from Better Dwelling show that the average square footage of condominiums built after 2016 has dropped to 749 sqft. That’s 3.6% smaller than those built between 2011-2015. And if we turn the clock back even further, a condo built pre 1990 will be on average 16% larger than a new building today.
But this loss in size doesn’t seem to deter home owners in the slightest. In fact it’s very common for buyers to narrow their home search by age – wanting something under 5 years old. A home that is move-in ready, still under warranty, and equipped with modern appliances and technology is more important than size. Not to mention the peace of mind that comes with investing in a property that has been vetted through the more stringent building codes we see today.
The advantages of a younger home far outweigh the loss of space. And that’s because a small home doesn’t have to mean small dreams. Whether you’re a first time home buyer or a downsizer, I’m going to share 5 ways to get the most living space out of your small home.
Generally speaking light colours will make a room look bigger, whereas darker colours will make it feel smaller. You can maximize this illusion when you take into consideration window placement and exposure. Light colours look better in bright south-facing spaces and will enhance the feeling of openness. Cool colours will help brighten up an east-facing room whereas warm colours will soften a west-facing room, especially during those long summer sunsets.
Mirrors are a great way to make a space seem larger. Hang mirrors across from a window to reflect light into a room. This works really well if you have a north-facing room; you need all the help you can get to attract what little light exists on those short, dark, and gloomy rainy winter days. Get creative and collect several different-sized mirrors to group them on a wall to visually expand the size of the space.
A line of vision that extends from one corner of your home to the other instantly elongates the look of a space’s distance. The same principle applies to height (why do you think modern condos have floor to ceiling windows?) You can also place floating shelves all the way up to the ceiling to bring both height and functionality to a wall while drawing the eye upwards.
Furniture with more than one purpose cuts down on the amount you need. Murphy beds work great in studio apartments and can have tables or couches attached to them that unfold out when the bed is put up into the wall. Ottomans with built in or flip up hard surfaces can turn a foot rest into a coffee table in no time. Look for floor lamps that provide shelves, couch arm trays, and drop leaf console tables to give you additional surface area when you need it. Basically, look for anything that has built in storage!
Getting creative with storage ideas, like beds with drawers underneath, is going to help you keep things organized. Out of sight – out of mind. If you’re downsizing, or you love collecting things, now is the time to seriously consider what you actually need. Donate or put into storage anything you don’t use on a regular basis. The less things you have the bigger your space will feel. Plus, it makes tidying and cleaning so much faster!
Don’t limit your search by square footage. When you’re looking at condominiums, or anything under 1000 sqft, you need to factor in the layout of the property. Layout is everything. A 580 sqft unit might look less attractive on paper than one that is 620 sqft, but how is it architecturally designed? A hallway, a poorly placed dividing wall, a concrete pillar, these are things that can eat into the functionality of square footage. Look for units that have been thoughtfully designed to use every inch of space effectively.
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New Westminster, BC, V3L 3A7