The Allure of Small Spaces



Photo by BeBoulder Photography

Small spaces draw us in—the popularity of the tiny house movement is testament to that. They provide a promise of living a simpler life with their “less is more” vibe. The word “small” in relation to residences, however, connotes a wide range of meaning. To some, small may be a true tiny house at less than 400 square feet; for those accustomed to more spacious living, 5,000 square feet may be downsizing. For this issue, we opted to feature homes that measure under 3,000 square feet yet sport big personalities.

Some tips from our experts on maximizing design impact in a smaller space:                                                                                                                                           

LET THERE BE LIGHT: Bring natural light and views in to create a visual connection to nature.

RAISE THE ROOF: Introduce height to provide variety of scale, forming both intimate and grandiose spaces.

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN: Exterior spaces like outdoor living rooms extend interior space to make small spaces feel larger.

GO BOLD: Although color can be tricky in tighter spaces, don’t be afraid of it.

BOOST PERFORMANCE: Imaginative storage options—like this credenza from BDDW and multi-use furniture pieces (like this Staircase shelving unit from Danny Kuo)—are key to keeping space clean and uncluttered. 

These lovely spaces envelop like a comfy sweater with their built-in efficiencies, surprising details and welcoming mountain settings. Despite their less-than-grand stature, all are big on charm.

A TIMELINE OF TINY SPACES:

Sheep Wagon
1900s

Created to shelter sheepherders (in the U.S. we call them sheepherders not shepherds) while they trailed sheep on the plains, this compact wagon was part Conestoga, part sailing ship—with built-in cupboards and storage. Today, companies like Idaho Sheep Camp still make traditional wagons based on the original designs. 

 

Airstream Trailer
1930s

In 1929 Wally Byam built the first Airstream trailer—a tent contraption on a Model T chassis—that evolved into the iconic teardrop-shaped permanent shelter, complete with stove and ice chest. It was easy to tow behind a car or truck and other people soon were asking him to make one for them.  

 


Photo by BeBoulder Photography

Wagons Reimagined
1990s

Taking cues from historic sheep wagons and gypsy wagons, craftspeople begin reinventing the appeal of wagon living, transforming these ship-shape efficient spaces built on running gear into fishing camps, libraries and guest rooms. This wagon was recently delivered to a ranch outside Carbondale made by  the Sedar + Ayres wagon company. 

 


Photo courtesy Wheelhaus

Tiny Houses
2000s

At under 400 square feet, tiny houses have sparked a movement in recent years, with communities springing up around the country. Using traditional building techniques and materials, and aesthetically similar to larger homes, they also serve as guest houses and offices like this one from Wheelhaus

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