Expert tips for squeezing living space into the smallest designs

Hiawatha Log Homes
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1. Borrow space within an open floor plan
Minimize the number of walls within your space. Open spaces are more comfortable and allow for versatility. Open floor plans also make your spaces work twice as hard, so some of your spaces do double duty. The open spaces are defined by how they are used.

2. Keep it simple
A square or rectangular floor plan not only saves money, but eliminates tiny spaces where logwork is awkward and difficult to piece together. It also eases the relationship between the builder and homeowner since a simple plan is easier to construct.

3. Incorporate clever storage
Consider storage early on in the planning and find ways to use every

Stonemill Log Homes
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square foot of your space. A small home can never have too much storage.

Build at least one good-sized closet in every room for clothing, linens, coats, brooms, extra food, etc., then find clever ways to make use of other storage spaces. Keep your eyes open during construction for additional storage spots.

Wisconsin Log Homes
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4. Expand upward, not outward
Whether limited by budget or the size of your property, you can make good use of a small home by adding floor levels. Additional floor framing costs less than the greater roof and foundation costs of a ranch design.

Building up also generally results in lower heating and cooling costs than a single story design. Cathedral ceilings are nice but they eat up valuable square footage where an upper level or loft could be built. Raising your ceilings a foot can create a similar effect without wasting second floor space.

True North Log Homes
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5. Provide perceived space
Sometimes perceived space is more valuable than actual space, so contrary to the previous point, you may decide the open feel of a cathedral ceiling is well worth losing that second floor space. You may sacrifice square footage by eliminating an upper level room, but a soaring cathedral ceiling will lend your small home a wide open space and a break from small, cozy rooms.

Don’t go overboard. Put a cathedral ceiling over the great room or master bedroom and close off the space above other rooms to take advantage of second floor spaces.

Click here for Log Home Planning 101.
Click here for 7 Secrets of Successful Construction.
Click here for a Step-by-Step Guide to drawing up your Furniture Plan.
Click here for a guide to Renovating and Maintaining Your Log Home.

For the complete list of “designing small” tips, check out the
October 2004 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.