Making the most of a small house

(41 Posts)
nananoo Thu 03-Jan-13 19:01:43

Hi. We have a lovely home, in a area we really like. The schools in the area are not bad either! Problem is... we are running out of space.

We have 2 and a half bedrooms (smallest room is only a cot room) and two children (with a ten year age difference between them - making sharing a room difficult). The house is listed, so we can't extend. There is no garage for storage, only a damp cellar which is unsuitable for converting into another room (we've checked!). We have two small reception rooms, and I have thought of converting one of these into a bedroom - but it would make our living area tiny if we do this. I also work from home, so I have to squeeze in a desk somewhere (preferably quiet).

I would love to hear about any creative ideas anyone has had for making the most of their small homes - especially as their family grows up.

RedHelenB Thu 03-Jan-13 19:03:53

Is a conservatory allowed?

rubbishonlineshopper Thu 03-Jan-13 19:09:25

Or a garden room? You could use it as an office / den for older children + spare bedroom with a sofa bed? Also lots of cupboards / shelves for storing 'stuff'

Flatbread Thu 03-Jan-13 19:13:51

The garden office sounds great!

In the meanwhile, as a no-cost solution, could you make the half bedroom your study and use one downstairs reception room as a bedroom?

Do you have a dining table in your kitchen or the second reception room?

BettyandDon Thu 03-Jan-13 19:14:29

Put as much as you can on the walls- tvs for example and wall to ceiling storage. Don't own a lot of things too! We've thought of switching our big bedroom with our kids one as they need the space in the day more than we do in the night.

nananoo Thu 03-Jan-13 19:18:31

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm afraid listed building regulations and the size of our garden prevent both a conservatory and a garden room.

yomellamoHelly Thu 03-Jan-13 19:18:41

Can you make the half bedroom yours? On the basis you have the living space and need only somewhere to sleep / store clothes. Expect location of bed to determine how many wardrobes you could get in. Then grab one of the bedrooms back in 10 years.

RyleDup Thu 03-Jan-13 19:19:41

Can you go up into the attic? If theres a big enough attic space?

nananoo Thu 03-Jan-13 19:42:10

Thanks for all of these suggestions. The half bedroom used to be my office (it was such a luxury!). Unfortunately, this bedroom is 7 ft x 9 ft and because of it's shape, too small for even a standard single bed. The attic unfortunately cannot be extended into because there isn't enough headroom (and listed building restrictions). The only suggestion I had come up with was moving a bedroom downstairs for a few years as we have a table in the kitchen. Then I could have my office back. Luckily, we (well me and DH) do not have too many possessions so it isn't a very cluttered house.

Angelfootprints Thu 03-Jan-13 19:59:16

Do you have a floor-plan by any chance of your home you could upload? Its hard to say without knowing layout and dimensions.

tricot39 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:01:11

It sounds like you need a good conservation architect. It is possible to make significant changes if these are soundly based. An architect could also provide ideas on alternative ways of living. Try talking to your local spab branch and look at planning applications for other listed buildings to see who is working in your area. Another place to look is the conservation architects register.

7x9 is big enough for a single bed if you compensate for the awkward size of the room by building it in mid air as you don't use a straight wall (where you could put a single on the floor if you had one obviously) but instead across the room with the two squarest points.

Small ladder up to it - lots if storage/ desk for a child underneath.

There must be a way to tank the cellar - you just haven't found it yet wink

RedHelenB Thu 03-Jan-13 20:11:26

Use box room for office & one of the reception rooms as a bedroom, problem solved!

forevergreek Thu 03-Jan-13 20:12:39

I would put office in small bedroom, adults in one bedroom , and children in the other. Can you build some kind of bed in the children's room so they are built in, with storage etc and little privacy curtains. I think they re called Dutch bunks. Something that will last and that an adult can fit in.

Also declutter and don't buy any excess. Get rid of anything you haven't used in the last 6 months.

freakazoidroid Thu 03-Jan-13 20:15:49

We have the same problem. We have changed our dining room into our13 yr old sons bedroom . My 4 yr old daughter has his old room and my dh has her old tiny box room as his study. We have put a nook bench in our kitchen and table. Our house still feels so small sometimes though !

lalalonglegs Thu 03-Jan-13 21:06:10

Do you have to stay in this house? Maybe it's time to consider moving.

FarrahFawcettsFlick Thu 03-Jan-13 22:01:30

www.google.co.uk/search?q=office+in+a+cupboard&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=BfzlUMygDYWs0QW8j4CoCA&sqi=2&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=672

Have you got an alcove/odd shaped nook that could be converted into an office. We're having this done as it's hard (for us) to justify a whole room. A good joiner/cabinet maker will be your friend. Try boat builders/fitters - serious problem solving in small spaces.

Cellar conversions are expensive. But if you want to stay a good architect with listed status experience and SPAB will be invaluable. If your're grade II/II* there can be wriggle/compromises made with the conservation officer.

Bumblequeen Thu 03-Jan-13 23:46:39

We have a small 2.5 bedroom house. One reception room, small bathroom, large kitchen diner, two large bedrooms and a box room. Our saving grace is;

our kitchen diner which we can entertain in
Under stair cupboard which stores hoover/ironing board/duster/plastic bags/extra shopping items when cupboards are full
Loft
Shed

I keep the hallway and stairway clear apart from coats. Everything is put away after use. Walls are magnolia boring and ceilings white which gives an illusion of more height and an airy feel.

When dc2 comes along they will have the box room.

nananoo Fri 04-Jan-13 07:37:49

Thanks everyone! I think what we need is a good architect. Anyone know roughly how much some advice, rather than detailed plans, might cost? I think it might be money well spent.

Sorry I haven't any floor plans to offer , but just to say that the main problem with the cellar is the headroom. It would be difficult to dig down further because there are steel supports/bar strengthening the front of the house. Wouldn't want to mess with these! I think the best we could do is just tank the cellar so we have some dry storage space.

Also in the cot room - there is a big sash window which dominates that exterior wall. It is only a foot off the floor which means that a full size single bed would have to be specially made with a very low base to sit below the window. Any handy cabin style bed would block the window completely.

Yes - I often wonder if moving would be better (until I do my sums!). I would avoid buying a listed building again!

TwllBach Fri 04-Jan-13 07:52:51

This might not be particularly helpful, but I've just read your last post and my current bed is a low down, Japanese style bed. It's still got room to store flat things underneath and has a headboard etc. it's from ikea - MALM I think, but I'm not sure if they do singles. It's worth a try anyway!

soundevenfruity Fri 04-Jan-13 08:02:24

Shelter charity does an event once a year where it matches you with a local architect for 1 consultation. You only pay a donation to the charity.

FarrahFawcettsFlick Fri 04-Jan-13 08:23:09

www.architecture.com/UseAnArchitect/Home.aspx

You conservation officer can be a cheap way of getting ideas for the house.

What about encorporating the loft space into the bedroom space for extra vertical space?

We live in a tiny space and can't alter the property.

I get a lot of inspiration from blogs like this and This.

And we declutter like mad - I read a lot of minimalist blogs. - eg we don't own a tv, just a mac which we use as a TV and for work, homework etc, we don't own any DVDs or CDs, movies and music are all stored on a hard drive. DS sells his toys at a car boot sale twice a year before his birthday and before Christmas and buys something he really wants with the money. DH and I donate a bag to charity at least once a month and don't own duplicates of anything... When I'm reading a book i use a postit as a bookmark and i write on it who Id like to give the book to when I've finished it. It's a different way of life but our tiny flat is a lovely home and I wouldn't swap it for a mansion - a mansion would need me to spend a lot more time working to pay for it and maintaining/ cleaning it and I've got other things I want to do with my time...

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 08:49:34

A Murphy bed for one of the downstairs reception rooms for you and DH? Try searching tiny house living on YouTube and you will get so much inspiration! I don't think you should move, I thiNk with careful planning and maybe some decluttering you can make it work!

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 08:51:14

Try checking out the minimalist thread over on good housekeeping forum here! I think if you decreased the family's belongings like crazy it would make a huge difference.

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 08:54:27

Also, it's common in Japan for example to have multi functional living spaces, it's very usual for a day time living area to turn into a bedroom at night, it just takes thinking and clever storage.

CharlotteBronteSaurus Fri 04-Jan-13 08:55:48

would a single futon get round the height issue? you could then use wall mounted shelving like String shelves on the walls above.

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 09:47:36

Can't you put a single bed in your cot room for one DC and the other DC has the second bedroom? And then the main bedroom is yours and DH and you could put a desk in the corner for your work? Then each DC has a bedroom each.

mycatlikestwiglets Fri 04-Jan-13 09:48:18

I was going to say a futon bed would solve your height problem in the small bedroom but CharlotteBronteSaurus beat me to it!

I have lived in some tiny properties (studio apartment and a 1 bedroom house, literally 2 rooms upstairs and 2 downstairs) and my top tips are: get rid of clutter immediately - be ruthless with yourself, keep surfaces and floors as clear as possible, underfloor heating frees up the walls for storage (no radiators in the way), make as much of you can of your garden space and any potential for storage there, board your loft and use it for storing items you don't need access to regularly. Also having furniture made to measure for your space can really help, although I generally find that free standing furniture helps to make rooms feel bigger. Any unused nook or cranny can be an excellent space for a desk or computer table - you have to be creative with the space you have

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 09:50:58

Just so I'm clear OP, do you have 2 1/2 bedrooms as well of two reception rooms downstairs?

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 09:52:15
mistlethrush Fri 04-Jan-13 10:00:04

Being a listed building certainly doesn't mean that you 'can't' do extensions, conservatories or garden offices, it just means that you need Listed Building consent to do them. Whilst that makes it more difficult to achieve, it is not out of the question.

You also haven't said what the listing of your house is related to - if its to do with group value etc (ie external appearance in its setting), internal alterations could be acceptable fairly easily - you would need to get some guidance from your Conservation Officer.

If there are any similar listed buildings nearby, what have they had done to them to create more space? Again this is a useful guide, although it wouldn't necessarily guarantee you would get consent.

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 10:10:07

Also this UK company makes special sized beds to fit awkward small rooms and they're a great price. So you could have one made to fit cot room.
www.pinebed.co.uk/

MinimalistMommi Fri 04-Jan-13 10:16:16

Another bed option for cot room that would work because it would sit below the window: www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/20161836/

They have these in ikea in the UK, although I cold not find a pic online for you with UK price, I saw it there a week ago when I visited Ikea! It's basically a wooden slatted floor bed with cream iron frame, they made it to slide under there Tromso ikea day bed as a trundle bed but it would work just as well alone! I think it was about £50 not including mattress.

southnorwoodmum Fri 04-Jan-13 15:59:56

OP I don't see how your house is small, unless your rooms are ridiculously small. What you describe as 2.5 bedrooms is probably the most standard 3 bed house (normally with a shoebox 3 bedroom) and you have 2 receptions rooms! Sounds more than enough!
"Office" in a cupboard is a great idea. As well as a custom-made bed for the shoebox room.
I love houzz website, when you searching just add "small" to each search, i.e. "small bedroom" etc. Lots of great ideas.

noddyholder Fri 04-Jan-13 19:33:07

How small is the box room.Could you make it a multi function computer room office with long worktop type desk and 2 comfy chairs plus shelves.then they can share but the older one can do homework and computer friends round stuff in the study if the little one is in bed and you can use it as office in the day? Give them the larger room with a partition and you have the smaller room with xcellent storage?

janek Fri 04-Jan-13 20:01:09

Hang on, if the room is 7' by 9' then that's big enough for a kingsize bed! If the door opens outwards anyway...

So you and dp sleep in there (on some kind of low-framed bed) and just store your stuff somewhere else - share a wardrobe with youngest dc? Keep it in the cupboard under the stairs? If your low-framed bed were under the window then you'd have room for a chest of drawers at the foot of the bed too, i would have thought. And room for teeny tiny bedside tables between the bed and the wall if you're lucky!

3smellysocks Fri 04-Jan-13 21:36:58

can you get a bed made for the small room? Something high up with storage below?

We have a house similar to what you describe. Dd has the small bedroom. It is 8ft x 8ft but a large chunk of floorspace is taken up by the stairwell...

It is perfectly usuable as a single room. She currently has a mid height bed over the stair box bit but we are looking to change it around a bit and have a low level bed underneath the window and incorporate the stairwell box into a desk / cupboard arrangement.

TinyDiamond Sat 05-Jan-13 00:20:54

is it a terrace? I'd be tempted to use under stairs/over stairs cupboard as your workspace, shelves up to top and desk with chair under, there should be enough space to fit in. could you build your bed up to a mezzanine level in your room? you could then have your workspace underneath it with wardrobe doors/a curtain to shut it away.

damppatchnot Sat 05-Jan-13 00:21:15

My sons bedroom is very small as the headroom of the stairs cuts into it. We got a metal frame single bed that just fits under the window across the width of the room. He has a double wardrobe and bedside cabinet and his toys are in plastic buckets under his bed and on top of his wardrobe and his book on wall shelves above his bedside cabinet. The room is 6ft by 9ft but has a corner taken out so one wall is only 7ft. We manage ok! He still has enough floor space to play ongrin

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