These days, a small cabin is popular for two reasons: It’s budget-friendly and provides close-quarter coziness. Squeezing everything into a small floor plan can, however, be challenging.
When planning your cozy retreat, it helps to have some guidelines in mind:
1. Add space with an open floor plan.
The fewer walls, the better. Open spaces are more comfortable and allow for versatility.
2. Keep it simple.
A square or rectangular floor plan not only saves money, but also eliminates tiny spaces which are difficult to build out.
3. Get creative with storage.
Find ways to use every square foot of space. Any cabin, even a small cabin, can never have too much storage. Build at least one good-sized closet in every room, and then find clever ways to make use of other storage spaces.
4. Expand upward, not outward.
Whether limited by budget or by the size of your site, adding floor levels is less expensive and more effective than expanding the footprint of a small cabin. Cathedral ceilings are nice, but they eat up valuable square footage where a second level or loft could be built.
Raising your ceilings a foot can create a similar effect without wasting any second-floor space.
5. Provide perceived space.
Contrary to the previous point, sometimes implied space is more valuable than actual space. You may decide that the open feel of a cathedral ceiling is well worth the space lost by going without the space above it.
6. Remove unnecessary rooms.
Do a thorough self-analysis before designing your cabin. By cutting space from bedrooms and bathrooms, you can add crucial square footage to other rooms. A good rule of thumb: Plan your cabin for the way you live most of the time, not for that one big family reunion weekend each year. Keep living spaces and common areas as big as possible in a small retreat.
7. Eliminate hallways.
They take up space for little benefit. Removing a hall that separates the kitchen and dining room results in more usable space, and you can still get to the living room just as easily.
8. Use thoughtful décor.
Finish your rooms in ways that maximize the space. A monotonous space without depth and shadow feels lifeless and smaller than it actually is. Adding depth and accents through lighting and trim details makes spaces feel larger and more alive.
9. Use outdoor spaces to expand living space.
Besides bringing you closer to the outdoors, decks and porches provide outflow space for cabin owners and guests. Dormer, bump-outs, breakfast nooks with bay windows and gabled entry elements also expand living space. Clerestory windows and lofts with views bring in natural light, further blurring the line between indoors and outdoors.
10. Design around a focal point.
If you have one focal point per room (fireplace, stairs, wall of windows, etc.) your rooms will feel comfortable and less cluttered – an important consideration when dealing with small spaces.
11. Design stairs and fireplaces with space in mind.
Straight stairs require less room than U-shape or right-angle stairs. Avoid curved stairs. Spiral stairs and ladders are good space savers but aren’t very functional, especially when transporting weekend suitcases. Choose a fireplace that doesn’t eat up space, and then place it where it maximizes square footage.
12. Keep cozy kitchens functional.
A 30-inch-wide refrigerator, conventional four-burner range and a pair of sinks make an adequate kitchen. Allow 18 to 24 inches of counter space on each side of the stove and at least 2 feet on one side of the sink. Use base cabinets below and shelves or upper cabinets above for efficient storage.
13. Don’t sacrifice quality.
Smaller ranges, refrigerators and stacking washer-dryers are available in most trusted name brands.