Living Large Under 3,000 Square Feet

When it comes to building or purchasing a mountain home, the “bigger is better” mentality doesn’t always apply. Perhaps you’re designing a vacation home and don’t need a sprawling estate; you would much rather craft a cozy winter escape. Or you might be empty nesters—you’ve been there, done that with the giant mountain home and are looking to downsize to something more manageable.

It’s also possible you’re bound by building restrictions, as is sometimes the case in small historic ski resort towns where land is limited and protected (Telluride, Colorado; Jackson, Wyoming, etc.). Or perhaps you just like the idea of the minimal, thoughtful home design movement, where everything you could possibly want is concentrated (while de-cluttered) within a smaller amount of space. But how do you get all that function and style into reduced square footage?

Whatever the reason, residing in a smaller space doesn’t have to mean you forfeit living large. We sat down with Allen Halcomb, president of residential design firm MossCreek, to bring you these seven ways to to pack mountain luxury and comfort into 3,000 square feet or less—and not feel boxed in.


An open floor plan is always the way to go; a smart design incorporates a free flow from kitchen, dining, and great room for easy transition and gatherings. But when you walk into the front door—or into any room, for that matter—your eye seeks orientation. “The minute you see something within your line of sight—that’s called a way point,” says Halcomb. “All of a sudden, the room will feel bigger once you have that focal point—it could be a statue on a pedestal, painting, fireplace, or framed glass.”


Height is a classic element applied to a small space to make it feel larger. Tall ceilings add majesty to a room and also allow more natural light to flow in. Speaking of light, pairing tall ceilings with as many windows and as much glass as possible can reduce any tendency of feeling psychologically constrained by the boundary lines of the surrounding walls.


Lighter color palettes can make a space feel open and extended—but this doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to the current all-white or gray trend. Just take note that darker colors close a space off and make it feel cozier, and then choose wisely. It can be best to save bold colors for smaller accent pieces and art.


Continuing floor materials from the inside to the home’s outdoor spaces can create the illusion of a grander floor plan, bringing the comfort of being indoors into the wider landscape and natural surroundings beyond the insulated walls of the house.


Watch the size of your objects. “A classic mistake people regret is, for instance, a 6-foot-wide fireplace box in a 14-feet-wide stone fireplace that climbs all the way up to the gable of the roof,” says Halcomb. “It’s beautiful unless you’re in a smaller house. When the scale is out of sorts, the object not only looks too big, it makes the room feel small.”


If you have limited indoor square footage, one of the things that can be truly wonderful is a covered porch or outdoor living space. Halcomb suggests incorporating large lanai doors that open up and allow a pleasant breeze to blow through. Easy transition back and forth is perfect for entertaining in a small space, too.


These days there is so much interesting technology that almost anything can be multi-functional to conserve space. From simpler concepts like built-in seating, cabinetry, and appliances, to convertible storage systems— “even refrigerated drawers, which saves vertical space for shelving or other appliances above them,” says Halcomb—there is always a way to get smarter with square footage.

Want more information on how to live large in 3,000 square feet or less? Contact Allen Halcomb at 800.737.2166 or

Categories: Contemporary Homes