Design Ideas for No Wasted Space


Homes have been getting smaller over the years, and the pandemic has threatened the open floor plan, as homeowners who need dedicated work space realize walls have their uses. While it’s too soon to tell how the pandemic might affect floor plans long-term, there are small spaces in every home that need to be designed with functionality top of mind.

During a session at IBSx, the virtual International Builders Show, designers illustrated ways that builders can make the most of these small spaces for their clients.


Lita Dirks, principal at Lita Dirks & Co. in Greenwood Village, said the first three seconds are critical in forming first impressions in a home. “For years, we said it was the first eight to 10 seconds but that is no longer true,” she said.

More light and windows, and taller doors, provide “silent directionals to help people enter that entry and want to move forward,” she said.

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Paint color choices are another way to make an impact in an entry way, she added. “It doesn’t matter if it’s light or dark. The idea is it will be balanced with light, whether it’s light from the outside, or wonderful, exciting light on the inside,” she explained.

Entryway closets with adjustable storage options can help owners make the most of the space, according to Theresa Finnigin, vice president of marketing at Organized Living. “The entry closet is often used for more than just coats … once families move in,” she said.

A home might have one entry for guests, through the front door, while owners use an entry from the garage, Bill Ramsey, principal at KTGY in Denver, said. The owner entry should prioritize functionality and storage. Ramsey said he’s seen a rise in the “Costco closet” where owners can store bulk items, while the “drop zone,” or a dedicated space for charging phones and tablets when they get home, is outdated.

“That’s just not how people are living anymore. Now that device typically stays with them the entire rest of the day in the house, ending the day being charged at a bedside table,” he said.


Ramsey suggested builders and designers think outside the 5-by-5-foot box of the typical powder room. Floor plans with different shapes, natural or ambient light, and storage can make these small space designs more interesting.

Ramsey and Dirks encouraged attendees to pay attention to sightlines and doors leading toward the powder room so they can hide the lavatory from view.

“No one wants to attention to be staring at the toilet,” Ramsey said.



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