How to Make Your Small House Into a Dream Home


From lifestyle to resale aspects, sensibly sized luxury homes make more sense than monstrous homes, says Thanks to its modest size, reshaping your small house into a dream home is a more affordable reality -- the lesser the square footage, the lesser materials required. Plan your style direction, then explore ways to bring your fantasy to fruition.


  • Even if you’re hiring an interior designer, you need a style direction. You may gravitate more toward the urban-chic-loft than the mountain-retreat design, for example. Find inspiration by pouring through dream-home magazines and books, and watching design shows touting homes of the rich and famous or focusing on home improvements. Walk through upscale show homes, ritzy hotels, luxury furniture stores and fabric shops with a trusted friend who’s not afraid to tell you what she thinks and has a style that you admire.

Remodeling and Renovating

  • A small home can feel and appear much bigger when it has an open floor plan. Look at your home’s footprint; you may be able to improve the layout without expanding the square footage. Removing nonstructural walls, creating a kitchen pass-through and eliminating hallways improves flow, lighting and visual sight lines. If you want to add on, explore the idea of a sunroom, family-room-theater combo, enlarged kitchen, or a balcony through French doors off the master bedroom. Obtain all necessary permits, and get approval from your city’s planning department before starting any renovation or remodeling project.

Color and Accessories

  • Paint is both a frugal and powerful way to add a sense of luxury. Vivid jewel tones, or earthy reds, oranges and greens create warmth and richness. But avoid saturated colors like dark brown, burgundy and navy, which can make a small space feel closed in. Features, such as ornate crown moldings, faux pillars, designer bedding, tall, bronze faucets, a space-saving pedestal sink and oversized showerheads, lend drama. Get rid of unneeded or unused belongings to reduce clutter that works against the dream-home ambiance, but also look at ways to improve storage with open-shelving units, built-ins, a pantry and plenty of rattan baskets. Create light-reflective, glamorous sparkle with chandeliers, metal art, mirrors, porcelain or ceramic tile, crystal vases and glass decor that contrast with or pop off vibrant wall colors.


  • Some small-scale leather, suede and wood furnishings can look high-end while working double-duty, such as a coffee table with storage or plush sofa bed for guests. Form attractive outdoor living spaces as extensions to a small home, using patio sets with weather-resistant fabric that speaks to the home’s interior design, a freestanding fire pit, soul-soothing water features, a patio swing, shade trees and colorful, lush hanging and potted plants.


  • If needed, talk to your lender about a second mortgage or a line of credit when you’re planning a costly project or major structural changes. Or explore ways to get the look you love for less. For example, knit your own cashmere cushion covers; build a replica of that padded, ikat headboard that you spotted on the cover of a magazine; or make over ratty yet sturdy dressers, desks and tables to look like sought-after antiques or pricey modern pieces, using finishing, distressing and painting techniques. If you’re yearning for unrealistic, costly materials, such as exotic hardwood flooring or a copper ceiling, use them instead in smaller doses around a fireplace, as moldings or as a backsplash to accent more affordable tile, stone or wood surfaces.


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