How to Live in Small Spaces: Design, Furnishing, Decoration and Detail for the Smaller Home

Overview

A world-renowned design authority shows how to make the most of every square foot.

Whether motivated by soaring energy costs, smaller families or the desire to live more simply, homeowners are abandoning "McMansions" for smaller housing. In How to Live in Small Spaces, Terence Conran explains that what's paramount to livability is not square footage, but how the space is divided.

In this comprehensive, full color book, Conran tackles the many ...

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Overview

A world-renowned design authority shows how to make the most of every square foot.

Whether motivated by soaring energy costs, smaller families or the desire to live more simply, homeowners are abandoning "McMansions" for smaller housing. In How to Live in Small Spaces, Terence Conran explains that what's paramount to livability is not square footage, but how the space is divided.

In this comprehensive, full color book, Conran tackles the many challenges posed by small spaces. Chapters cover storage, bedrooms, children's rooms, lighting, extension and much more. "Assessing your needs" checklists and "points to consider" sidebars add valuable ideas. The six case studies that conclude the book provide excellent examples of great designs.

The author offers practical advice on exploiting every inch of space through:

  • Using fold-down and pull-out features
  • Buying slimline appliances
  • Installing indoor portholes and windows
  • Lessening the impact of furniture
  • Using scale and proportion to advantage
  • Manipulating color, texture and pattern
  • Using screens, partitions and platforms
  • Improving circulation paths.

Terence Conran never forgets the challenges posed by small spaces or the ingenuity and compromises required. He shows how easy it is to create a home whose comfort is not dependent on size, but on efficiency and integrity.

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Editorial Reviews

In Style Home - David Lewis Taylor
Sleep cylinders, shacks, tree tents and modular pods are examples (if extreme ones) of the mold-breaking ideas in this workbook by the British home-design magnate.
Antelope Valley Press - Darcel Rockett
No more complaining. Legendary London-based designer Terence Conran has compiled techniques for making the most of cramped quarters.
Shelf Life
Terence Conran is a space-challenged person's best friend.
The Cottager
This large book on small spaces is a great coffee table and resource book.
Dayton Daily News - Leanne Idle
Provides ways to maximize every inch of your home.
Warwick Beacon
No more complaining. Legendary London-based designer Terence Conran has compiled techniques for making the most of cramped quarters.
Chicago Life - Marilyn Soltis
Lavishly illustrated, it makes living, cooking, entertaining, working and sleeping in less than 1,000 square feet easy and even desirable.
Chocolat (English edition)
When Terence Conran ... says a well-designed home isn't about how much space you have, but how you divide it, we're inclined to believe him. ... Conran shows how a little planning can yield spectacular results.
Seattle Times - Sandy Dunham
This jumbo journal of small-home living could inspire you to move into your own teensy space.... Conran, a designer, teaches from experience ... his text, tips and "points to consider" are relevant and straightforward. Nicely illustrated with a wide range of international examples.
Style at Home
Proves that small can definitely be better.... Conran shows you how you can live well in a small space.
Victoria Times-Colonist - Bruce Patterson
Plenty of innovative solutions ... Conran keeps to a practical theme including some advice early on that will help in getting rid of the vast amount of possessions that many of us no longer need.
Seven Oaks Magazine - George Fetherling
[Readers] will find scores of renovation and ideas about how to maximise their space.
Chicago Tribune - Mary Daniels
Offers detailed practical information on how to exploit every inch of small-space living.... [Conran's] book is packed with myriad possibilities on how small scale can still contain big style.
Toronto Globe and Mail - Jane Gadd
Conran ... offers his latest insights into how to cope with a lack of living space.... Useful for people headed the property ladder.
Toronto Star - Donna Jean Mackinnon
Inspirational in its sophisticated approach to decorating and stretching space.
Vancouver North Shore News - Terry Peters
No matter what the size of your residence there are plenty of suggestions here to help you better utilize the space and in the process improve your home.
Western Living Condo - F.S.
As practical as it is insightful, [How to Live in Small Spaces] cover everything from décor tips to storage solutions.
HRN: The Weekly Newspapaer of Home Products Retail
Shows how a little can be a lot if the space is used wisely.... The book is packed with practical, time-proven ways to make the most of what you've got.
Denver Post - Elana Ashanti Jefferson
Instead of bemoaning the tight quarters in your efficiency or one-bedroom apartment, tackle the challenge head on with this practical design guide.
Design Lines Toronto
Well-articulated advice for making the most of every inch.
The Oregonian - Pat Jeffries
Conran does a good job of explaining how to see the potential in small spaces.
House and Home Media - Jennifer David
Intriguing contemporary visuals, a room-by-room approach to the subject, and dense, practical advice about assessing your needs, design issues, planning, furnishings and lighting prove that you can live well -- with ample storage -- in even the most diminutive homes.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The book's strength is in its providing many examples of these kinds of spaces, to give the reader a clear understanding of how the various spaces work and why.
Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Deborah Donovan
Everyone who is planning any kind of house project should read this book.
Home Magazine - Meredith Gordon
Filled with practical information and design tips, the tome emphasizes careful planning as it takes the reader step by step through the process of maximizing and beautifying a tiny abode.
Good Times - Liz Grogan
A useful book to have around the house ... will help you get maximum use out of every square inch of space.
Edmonton Journal
Lavishly illustrated ... packed with myriad possibilities on how small scale can still contain big style.
Metro (Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa) - Torstar News Service
How to Live in Small Spaces by Terrence Conran is inspirational in its sophisticated approach to decorating and stretching space.
Homestyle
No more complaining... Conran offers this audit to help those in small spaces pare down to the most meaningful essentials, a key step in transforming small into sensational.
The Okanagan Saturday
No more complaining. Legendary London-based designer Terence Conran has compiled techniques for making the most of cramped quarters.
Harrowsmith Truly Canadian Almanac 2008
This book shows you how, with real-home photographs for inspiration and clear diagrams for explanation. Bottom Line? The ultimate home-design guide for the anti-McMansion set.
Real Estate Magazine - Jim Adair
More than a coffee table book ... offers practical advice ... covering every room in the house.
The Vancouver Sun - Kim Pemberton
There is plenty of useful information to be found in this book.
Publishers Weekly

Founder of Habitat stores, designer and author Conran (The Ultimate House Book) recognizes in this prescient work that being upwardly mobile no longer translates into living large, particularly for urban dwellers. Opting for a smaller home enables one to live in a more desirable location, perhaps closer to work; a smaller home is cheaper to run (think energy), easier to maintain and forces one to be more selective in purchases and less acquisitive. "Think laterally and creatively" is Conran's dictum, for example, in assessing needs, decorating the space to make the most of light and air, simplifying architectural details, building in storage and investing in functional, dual-use furniture, i.e., wall beds in neutral shades. Conran is fond of open-concept layouts to permit freer circulation space and is not afraid of suggesting strong color for tight spaces. He emphasizes the importance of lighting, especially diffuse lighting. And once you've done all you can yourself, subsequent chapters treat hiring assistance for converting attics, basements and sheds. In "Area by Area," Conran tackles each tight living space specifically for maximum use—kitchen, bedroom, children's room, bathroom, even small yards. Six cases studies nicely conclude this enormously accessible volume, from a studio in L.A. to a split-level apartment in Paris and an engawa house in Tokyo. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Western Living Condo
[Review for previous edition] As practical as it is insightful, [How to Live in Small Spaces] cover everything from décor tips to storage solutions.
Burlington County Times (Universal Press Syndicate - Bill Lahay
Conran does a good job pairing the overall philosophy of smaller spaces with strategies that make them easier to live with. Whether your home's square footage is a matter of choice or chance, making the most of it can start here.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554072422
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/16/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir Terence Conran is the founder of the Conran Group, an architecture and design firm that also operates 28 restaurants and shops in the United States, Europe and Japan. His books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. His first book, The House Book (1974), radically changed how we view our home environment.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Part 1: Making the Most of Small Spaces

DESIGN AND PLANNING

Living in small spaces

  • Levels of change
  • Looking for potential

Storage

  • How to get rid of things
  • Planning built-in storage
  • Customizing built-in storage

Scale and Proportion

  • Architectural detail
  • Minimizing architectural detail
  • Fireplaces and stoves
  • Openings
  • Screens and partitions
  • Open-concept layouts
  • Volume
  • Top lighting

Stairs, halls and lighting

  • Simplifying routes
  • Space-saving stairs
  • Making use of circulation space

DECORATING AND FURNISHING

Color, texture and pattern

  • Creating a decoration scheme
  • Using color
  • Space-enhancing color
  • Textural contrast
  • Bold statements
  • Decorating practicalities

Lighting

  • Assessing your needs
  • Types of lighting
  • Lighting schemes for small spaces
  • Choosing light fixtures
  • Choosing light sources
  • Natural light

Furnishing small spaces

  • Fold-down furniture and equipment
  • Space-saving beds
  • Minimizing the impact of furniture
  • Basic gear
  • Details

BRANCHING OUT

Getting the work done

  • Planning permits and legalities
  • Hiring professionals
  • Managing the work sequence

Converting attics

  • Permits and regulations
  • Structural issues
  • Access
  • Design

Converting basements

  • Extending downward
  • Structural issues and building work
  • Natural light
  • Potential uses
  • Cost-effectiveness


Additions

  • Assessing your needs
  • Siting
  • Permits
  • Building work
  • Style and character

Sheds and Outbuildings

  • Working retreats
  • Converting an existing shed
  • Prefab solutions
  • Converted outbuildings

Part 2: Small Space Specifics

AREA BY AREA

Multipurpose spaces and studios

  • Basic strategies
  • Designing the layout
  • Lofts

Living areas

  • Home media solutions
  • Concealed storage
  • Dividers and partitions
  • Surfaces and finishes

Kitchens and eating areas

  • Keep it simple
  • Designing the layout
  • Space-saving and space-enhancing ideas
  • Eating areas

Bedrooms

  • Creating a tranquil retreat
  • Sleeping platforms
  • Sleeping pods
  • Clothes storage
  • Dressing areas

Children's rooms

  • Flexible storage

Bathrooms

  • Designing the layout
  • Wet rooms
  • Space-enhancing ideas

Home office

  • Siting
  • Live-work

Small yards

  • Assessing your outdoor space
  • Planning and layout
  • Design principles
  • Views, vistas and focal points
  • Connecting home and garden
  • Front yards
  • Container gardening
  • Roof gardens

Second homes and weekend retreats

  • Choosing a location
  • Expressing a sense of place
  • Practicalities

CASE STUDIES

Case study 1

  • 3773 studio project, Los Angeles: Home studio

Case study 2

  • Live-work maisonette, London: Working from home

Case study 3

  • Split-level apartment, Paris: White light

Case study 4

  • One-bedroom apartment, New York: A place for everything

Case study 5

  • Family house, London: Drawing down the light

Case study 6

  • Engawa House, Tokyo: Bringing the outside in

Supplies
Index
Credits

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Preface

Introduction

Size, as they say, is not everything. If many of us are living in homes smaller than those in which we grew up, it is not necessarily because circumstances (economic ones, in particular) have forced us to. A recent statistic widely published in the British press reveals that half the households in two of London's more prosperous boroughs, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea, are single households, and presumably quite a substantial proportion of these are apartments. As has long been the case in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong, it seems clear that people are increasingly prepared to make the best of small space living for the sake of a good location. A desire to live near to one's place of work and to avoid long commutes plays a significant part in decisions about where to live.

It used to be the case that one's advance up the property ladder could be charted in terms of increasing floor area, as the student bachelor apartment roughly the size of a broom closet was exchanged for the unimaginable luxury of a one-bedroom apartment, which, in turn, eventually led to a family house with several bedrooms and a family-sized yard. This ever-expanding progression is not quite as inevitable today as it once was. The premium price that space commands, particularly in urban areas and densely populated parts of the globe, increasingly means that sooner or later many homeowners (and renters, too, for that matter) find themselves having to rethink their spatial requirements and "downsize" their expectations accordingly.

Probably the smallest home I have ever lived in was a single rented room measuring about 10 x 12 ft. (3 x 3.7 m) on the top floor of a house in Warwick Gardens -- actually, it was the first place I lived in when I came to London. As an ambitious young designer, I wasted no time putting my own stamp on my surroundings with bright color, Paolozzi prints and furniture I had designed and made out of welded metal and rope. In the room across from mine lived a woman named Olive Sullivan, who was at that time decorating editor of House and Garden magazine. Occasionally I would get a glimpse into her room, which, much to my amusement, was smothered in patterns largely featuring, as I recall, rosebuds. They were two very similar rooms in size, scale and proportion, but approached in two very different ways, to say the least. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that size need not inhibit personal expression: you can make a small place just as much your own as you can a larger one.

A similar point can be illustrated by Madrid's Hotel Puerta America, a "designer" hotel with a difference. Each of its 12 floors is the work of a different architect or designer -- those involved on the project included Norman Foster, Ron Arad, Marc Newson and Arata Isozaki. A stipulation of the brief was that the different architects and designers involved were asked not to talk to each other. Each of the 342 rooms has the same basic grid and parameters, but what eventually emerged were very different interpretations of what a hotel room should be.

Whether small space living has been forced upon you or is something you have chosen more positively, this book is for you. It is a "house book" in the fullest sense, in that it covers just about every aspect we could think of, from decorating and furnishing to design and detail, from spatial alterations to distributors and suppliers. Tailoring a small space to meet your needs, and meet them well, is not a question of superficial styling or purely decoration; it is a design job. Throughout, we have firmly stressed the practicalities of how to make a small space work better and feel larger: I always say that if you get the bones right -- the basics of structure, function and layout -- the rest is relatively easy. You may well require professional assistance to translate your ideas into reality, but you need the ideas in the first place, and I hope this book will provide you with more than a few.

Space is such a luxury these days, and widely perceived as such, that many people cannot help but feel cheated or hard done by if their homes are not as spacious as they would have liked. This is one of the first attitudes that you must overcome if you are going to enjoy small space living to its fullest. Small homes do entail some degree of compromise, but it is not all about sacrifice. There are many positive aspects to the situation, and it is well worth it to remind yourself of them.

Here is a brief list:

  • Opting for a smaller home may enable you to live in a location that you might otherwise not be able to afford, closer to where you work, for example, or within walking or cycling distance of a city center.
  • Smaller homes are cheaper to run, in just about every respect, but notably in terms of fuel bills, utilities and taxes.
  • When it comes to choosing materials -- flooring, for example -you will be able to afford those of a better quality because the surface area that you will need to cover will be limited. The same applies to details such as switches and handles -- you will need fewer, so you can afford better.
  • Small spaces, indoors and out, are easier to maintain. Clearing up or cleaning the house will no longer be a task that no sooner completed must be started all over again. The time you save on routine chores can be spent doing something you really enjoy.
  • Small space living forces you to be selective in your purchases, and this is no bad thing at a time when choice can be overwhelming and many people own and acquire much more than they use or need.
  • The tight planning that small spaces demand often makes everyday tasks easier to perform -- think of the economy of movement and control you gain by working in a small, well-planned kitchen.

You may well think of other advantages that you could add to the list. At any rate, it seems to me that the pros potentially outweigh the cons, and certainly provide compelling enough reasons to make the most of whatever space you have. Perhaps most persuasive, however, is the fact that living in a small space forces you to think laterally and creatively and not be bound by convention. Instead of allocating specific functions to separate rooms, you will inevitably need to consider the space as a whole, linking or grouping activities together without the conventional boundaries of walls, as well as building in as much as you can behind the scenes. At their best, small spaces can be both inclusive and flexible, which is perfectly in tune with the relaxed and informal way we want to live now and will no doubt continue to want to live in the future.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

Size, as they say, is not everything. If many of us are living in homes smaller than those in which we grew up, it is not necessarily because circumstances (economic ones, in particular) have forced us to. A recent statistic widely published in the British press reveals that half the households in two of London's more prosperous boroughs, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea, are single households, and presumably quite a substantial proportion of these are apartments. As has long been the case in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong, it seems clear that people are increasingly prepared to make the best of small space living for the sake of a good location. A desire to live near to one's place of work and to avoid long commutes plays a significant part in decisions about where to live.

It used to be the case that one's advance up the property ladder could be charted in terms of increasing floor area, as the student bachelor apartment roughly the size of a broom closet was exchanged for the unimaginable luxury of a one-bedroom apartment, which, in turn, eventually led to a family house with several bedrooms and a family-sized yard. This ever-expanding progression is not quite as inevitable today as it once was. The premium price that space commands, particularly in urban areas and densely populated parts of the globe, increasingly means that sooner or later many homeowners (and renters, too, for that matter) find themselves having to rethink their spatial requirements and "downsize" their expectations accordingly.

Probably the smallest home I have ever lived in was a single rented room measuring about 10 x 12 ft. (3 x 3.7 m) on the top floorof a house in Warwick Gardens -- actually, it was the first place I lived in when I came to London. As an ambitious young designer, I wasted no time putting my own stamp on my surroundings with bright color, Paolozzi prints and furniture I had designed and made out of welded metal and rope. In the room across from mine lived a woman named Olive Sullivan, who was at that time decorating editor of House and Garden magazine. Occasionally I would get a glimpse into her room, which, much to my amusement, was smothered in patterns largely featuring, as I recall, rosebuds. They were two very similar rooms in size, scale and proportion, but approached in two very different ways, to say the least. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that size need not inhibit personal expression: you can make a small place just as much your own as you can a larger one.

A similar point can be illustrated by Madrid's Hotel Puerta America, a "designer" hotel with a difference. Each of its 12 floors is the work of a different architect or designer -- those involved on the project included Norman Foster, Ron Arad, Marc Newson and Arata Isozaki. A stipulation of the brief was that the different architects and designers involved were asked not to talk to each other. Each of the 342 rooms has the same basic grid and parameters, but what eventually emerged were very different interpretations of what a hotel room should be.

Whether small space living has been forced upon you or is something you have chosen more positively, this book is for you. It is a "house book" in the fullest sense, in that it covers just about every aspect we could think of, from decorating and furnishing to design and detail, from spatial alterations to distributors and suppliers. Tailoring a small space to meet your needs, and meet them well, is not a question of superficial styling or purely decoration; it is a design job. Throughout, we have firmly stressed the practicalities of how to make a small space work better and feel larger: I always say that if you get the bones right -- the basics of structure, function and layout -- the rest is relatively easy. You may well require professional assistance to translate your ideas into reality, but you need the ideas in the first place, and I hope this book will provide you with more than a few.

Space is such a luxury these days, and widely perceived as such, that many people cannot help but feel cheated or hard done by if their homes are not as spacious as they would have liked. This is one of the first attitudes that you must overcome if you are going to enjoy small space living to its fullest. Small homes do entail some degree of compromise, but it is not all about sacrifice. There are many positive aspects to the situation, and it is well worth it to remind yourself of them.

Here is a brief list:

  • Opting for a smaller home may enable you to live in a location that you might otherwise not be able to afford, closer to where you work, for example, or within walking or cycling distance of a city center.
  • Smaller homes are cheaper to run, in just about every respect, but notably in terms of fuel bills, utilities and taxes.
  • When it comes to choosing materials -- flooring, for example -you will be able to afford those of a better quality because the surface area that you will need to cover will be limited. The same applies to details such as switches and handles -- you will need fewer, so you can afford better.
  • Small spaces, indoors and out, are easier to maintain. Clearing up or cleaning the house will no longer be a task that no sooner completed must be started all over again. The time you save on routine chores can be spent doing something you really enjoy.
  • Small space living forces you to be selective in your purchases, and this is no bad thing at a time when choice can be overwhelming and many people own and acquire much more than they use or need.
  • The tight planning that small spaces demand often makes everyday tasks easier to perform -- think of the economy of movement and control you gain by working in a small, well-planned kitchen.

You may well think of other advantages that you could add to the list. At any rate, it seems to me that the pros potentially outweigh the cons, and certainly provide compelling enough reasons to make the most of whatever space you have. Perhaps most persuasive, however, is the fact that living in a small space forces you to think laterally and creatively and not be bound by convention. Instead of allocating specific functions to separate rooms, you will inevitably need to consider the space as a whole, linking or grouping activities together without the conventional boundaries of walls, as well as building in as much as you can behind the scenes. At their best, small spaces can be both inclusive and flexible, which is perfectly in tune with the relaxed and informal way we want to live now and will no doubt continue to want to live in the future.

Read More Show Less

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