Design tricks for smaller homes

A story in USA Today this week details how first-time home buyers prefer smaller homes, mostly because they are more affordable. It also explores how builders are accommodating this trend. The article states; “The trend cuts across the industry. The median square footage of new homes has dropped 9% from a peak of 2,300 square feet in the third quarter of 2006 to 2,100 square feet in the July-September period this year, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders.†Smaller homes don’t need to feel smaller. The article mentions a few design tricks to make a home appear larger than it is. These tricks include high ceilings, larger windows and open floor plans. But I wanted to dig a little deeper into these design ideas, so I called Tony Crasi of The Crasi Company in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who shared a few with me. Tony will be teaching a very popular class at the International Builders Show in January called Affordable Million Dollar Details. Here are a few thoughts Tony (pictured above) shared about not only making a home seem bigger, but also how to create more perceived value: “One thing we do is beef up the walls around openings. Rather than using 2x4s, bump them up to 2x6 or 2x8 to give it beefier, bigger feel.†Regarding higher ceilings, Tony says: “We don’t go more than 9 ft. because of cost.†On the topic of exterior scaling, Tony says it’s important not only to match exterior components to the home’s architectural style, but to buy the right-sized components as well. But it all starts with understanding the basics of any architectural style and knowing how to create the right proportions. Windows, as the article mentions, are key to making smaller homes seem bigger. “We like to have a lot of glass in a little home. It makes it lighter, brighter, and it expands the view to the outside. Frank Lloyd Wright eliminated walls and corners and replaced them with glass to carry the eye outside. Do you have any design tricks? Share your thoughts in an e-mail, or, scroll up to the first paragraph of this blog entry, look to the right and click where you see, “Leave a comment†or “Post or view comments.â€