My Small Home: Small Space Solutions from Regina's 1930s Cottage

My Small Home: Small Space Solutions from Regina's 1930s Cottage

Regina Yunghans
Apr 22, 2014
Our landing strip in the old telephone niche.
(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

My house was built back when small space living was just living. Nobody had ever heard of the word 'McMansion', and the recommended average square feet per person was 316 (Architect's Small House Service Bureau, 1929), versus the current actual average of 927 square feet (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). There are a number of details around the house that I appreciate, with my interest in small homes. I had nothing to do with most of these elements, as they were simply built into the house originally. They're details, however, that are perfectly relevant to my growing family living here today:

Dressers are recessed into the walls of the bedrooms.
(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

In the bedroom, our only piece of free-standing furniture is the bed itself. Large dressers are built into the walls, which I really appreciate because they provide a lot of storage with no dresser top to accumulate clutter and need dusting. There's also a small desk set into the dormer window, which is the perfect perch for a little laptop work (though the desk predates laptops by decades).

A deep windowsill accommodates plants without taking up floor space.
(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

A few of the windowsills are very deep, thanks to window bays that pop out on the exterior of the house. They provide sunny spots for plants without free-standing plant stands that would take up much-needed floor space.

wall-mounted LAX Series storage cabinet
(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

The final details I'm sharing are interventions of our own. This wall-mount storage cabinet from LAX is a carry-over from our previous studio apartment. It houses our ugly internet modem, wifi box, power strip and — on the open shelf — some of my son's toys. We like how the wall-mounted design allows the baseboards to slide right by and makes cleaning the floors a cinch. It's visually light and takes up less depth than a standard media cabinet:

Another intervention of ours was repainting all of the walls on the first floor of the house the same color when we moved in. The rooms used to be different pastel colors, and it just chopped up the small house. Now, with one shade throughout, there's much more continuity.

While this house is far from the smallest place I've called home, it is small for a single-family residence in the Midwest. Its space-efficient design is one of the major elements that drew me to it. Do you live in an older home that was built when space was given more consideration than in today's suburban sprawl? What kinds of details do you appreciate from the designs of those simpler times?

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