Dreaming of the perfect small home that’s stylish, functional and spacious? Look no further than today’s modern small house designs for some great ideas.
With these smart design tips, you can create a stylish and comfy home even with a smaller space – so don’t let size limit your dream home!
What Square Footage is Considered a Small Home?
Generally, a small home is considered to be any house under 1500 square feet. This size home is perfect for people wanting a house that’s both affordable and efficient.
Small house designs typically focus on creating a functional and attractive home that doesn’t need endless amounts of maintenance or upkeep.
They’re designed to maximize the use of space, so they often include open floor plans and multi-purpose rooms.
When designing a small home, it’s important to consider your lifestyle, how you’ll be using the space and what features you want to include to make your home comfortable and functional.
Investing in a modern small house can be a great way to get the most out of a smaller living space.
Good Design Elements to Include in Your Small House
Believe it or not, it can be harder to design a larger home than it is a small one. Not to mention, much more expensive. Embrace the smaller size of your space and use it to your advantage!
IKEA is an absolute master at utilizing the limited space of a todays’s small house. A visit to their showrooms is a lesson in small home design. So even if their aesthetic doesn’t match your own, set aside an afternoon to visit a showroom near you and prepare to be wowed. (Hey – their meatballs alone are worth the visit!)
And in addition to IKEA’s space-savvy ideas, here are some great design elements to keep in mind:
- Maximize natural light to make the space feel larger. Include skylights, patio doors and lots of large windows.
- Make use of multipurpose furniture. Pieces like ottomans can be used for both seating and storage. Sofa sleepers are both… sofas and sleepers. And beds with built-in drawers are a great way to maximize space.
- Incorporate built-in storage wherever possible. Think medicine cabinets, wall units and bookshelves. Keep clutter hidden!
- Use color and texture to create visual interest. And speaking of color, play around with light color palettes; they can help make small spaces appear larger and brighter.
- Consider using high ceilings to create a feeling of openness. This works well and is gorgeous besides.
- Utilize outdoor spaces to create additional living space. Porches and patios can become inexpensive “extra rooms.”
- Take advantage of vertical spaces, such as walls and stairs. Installing shelves and cabinets that extend up the walls can provide additional storage and make the most out of a small space.
- Go for an open-concept design, which allows for more natural light to enter the house and creates the feeling of a larger space.
- Play with different shapes and angles to add dimension. It keeps the eyes moving and interested.
- Incorporate natural elements like plants, wood, and stone. These can add texture and make a modern small house feel warmer and more inviting.
Small homes are naturally cozy already, so aim for creating a space that feels open, interesting and calm. Avoid too many details and clutter, as they can quickly become overwhelming in a small area.
The Pros and Cons of Living in a Small House
The Advantages of Living in a Small Home
There are so many benefits to living in a modern small house. One huge plus is that it costs less to build and maintain.
For this reason alone, the cost of living in a small home is lower than that of living in a larger one.
And the cost of furnishing a small house is much lower, too – simply because there’s so much less to buy. (A big house looks downright strange with empty rooms, and they need to be filled – even if you never use them.) And if you have an eye for design, you can furnish your small house with bargain buys and make it look like a designer home.
You’ll also save money on energy bills, because small houses need less power to heat and cool. If you live in the Midwest like we do, this is a whole lot of heating and cooling – and it adds up fast!
Finally, you’ll save on hours and hours of housekeeping – not to mention cleaning supplies. A small home has less floors to mop; less carpets to vacuum; less bedrooms to clean; less toilets and showers to scrub; less cobwebs to dust and less
junk important personal belongings to sort, wash, dust, organize and store.
A small modern home forces your own personal brand of minimalism, whatever that looks like. And that feels pretty good.
The Disadvantages of Living in a Small Home
On the other hand, living in a smaller space has the potential to feel downright cramped and claustrophobic. It takes good home design and space usage to create an open, relaxed environment.
You’ll probably also need to get creative with storage ideas due to limited space. And it can be harder to find just the right furniture and appliances to fit the space they’ll need.
Finally, sound can really travel in a small house, and “personal space” can be an issue. (We added extra insulation to interior walls – especially in bedrooms and bathrooms – and that made a huge difference in sound buffering.)
We added extra insulation to interior walls – especially in bedrooms and bathrooms – and that made a huge difference in sound buffering.
Ultimately, whether a small modern house design is right for you depends on your lifestyle, needs and expectations.
Small Modern House Designs for Different Lifestyles:
Is small home living the right choice for you? Maybe. People from many different lifestyles find it the perfect fit. Depending on your stage of life, your budget and your needs – a small, modern house could be a great answer.
Why a Small House is Ideal for a Young Couple or Starter Home
- A small house is ideal for young couples because it is more affordable than a larger home. And a smaller home needs less money for upkeep, making it easier to manage on a budget.
- A smaller home also makes it easier to stay organized and clutter-free, because small-house owners naturally have less things. This means that young couples can focus on creating their new life together instead of juggling the responsibilities of a giant home.
- Finally, a small house can provide a sense of privacy and pride in ownership. Young couples can enjoy their own space in a way not possible as apartment renters. And instead of paying rent, small-home owners will gain equity with every mortgage payment they invest.
Why a Small House is Ideal for Empty Nesters
- A modern small house can be perfect for empty nesters, because it allows them to downsize and save money on utilities and other expenses while they start thinking about retirement.
- A smaller home also offers more modest design, helping empty nesters to create a space that perfectly suits their needs and lifestyle. No more multi-story, multi-bedroom wasted space.
- And a smaller house means less maintenance than a larger one, meaning that empty nesters don’t need to worry about taking care of a huge property. That saves time and money that could be spent entertaining, traveling or enjoying friends and family.
Why is a Small House Ideal for Simple Living
- These days, we’re all becoming more aware of our role in maintaining a healthy planet. Small houses are perfect for people who want to simplify their lives and reduce their environmental impact.
- As mentioned above, smaller homes require less energy and materials to build. They’re also less expensive than larger homes when it comes to heating, cooling, cleaning and repairs.
- And living in a small house can help one focus on the important things in life and lead a more intentional, mindful lifestyle.
In short, people of all ages and lifestyles can enjoy a small home lifestyle – whether it’s first home buyers or those needing a guest house, small cabin or cozy cottage for retirement.
Small House Plans With an Open Concept
Although small homes come with many floor plans, it’s common to use an open concept idea.
What is an open concept floor plan? It’s a design that combines common rooms to create one large, open area. Usually the rooms include the kitchen, dining room, living room and/or great room.
Imagine a giant studio apartment – only maybe with a few more walls.
Using an open concept design gives a feeling of space to an otherwise small area. Adding a vault or tall ceiling is another common feature to achieve that same purpose.
Where Can I Buy Small Home Plans?
If you’re looking for modern small house floor plans, there tons of great small home design books showing literally hundreds of plans. We have several of them, and I can get lost in them for hours.
For online resources, some builders like KorndoerferHomes.com offer their own designs. Other websites like Houseplans.com, ArchitecturalDesigns.com and Truoba.com (whose designs are on this page) offer a huge selection of modern house designs in all ranges of sizes and designs.
These websites typically have a search feature, so you can quickly filter for small house plans. But it’s fun to browse the bigger homes, too, and you can get some great ideas there.
Also, some websites even have a custom design option so you can work with an architect to create a custom plan to build your dream home.
Lastly, if you know an architect or builder, they may be able to help you find the perfect small house plan for your needs.
Do I Need an Architect to Design a Small Modern House?
Using an architect isn’t mandatory to design a small modern house, but one can certainly be helpful. First and foremost, the design needs to be sound from both an engineering and a building code standpoint.
This why people normally either buy home design blueprints or have them custom-drawn by an architect.
Do you understand load bearing points? Do you know the structural requirements to accommodate plumbing and electrical needs? Are you familiar with the R-value of insulation and the lumber needed for exterior walls?
If you don’t design with those things in mind, your builder won’t like you and neither will the building inspector.
Architects know these things.
Architects also have valuable experience on how to make the most of a limited space, as well as help you create a modern small house design for your unique home. And architects have access to specialized tools that can turn small home plans into reality.
But if you DO choose to go without an architect, there are still plenty of resources to help you design your small modern house. There are numerous websites and books that provide house plans and ideas (mentioned in the previous section), as well as online tools that can help you visualize your design.
Depending on your budget and needs, an architect may or may not be the best choice for your project. Regardless of what you choose, make sure your final design is vetted for sound structural engineering and current local building codes. Your builder may be able to help.
What Is the Best Software if I Want to Design My Own Home?
If want to design your own home, the best software to use is 3D design and modeling software. This will allow you to create detailed 3D models of your house and visualize what it will look like when it’s finished. We did this with our own home when we were building, and it was really exciting.
You can find a number of software programs that are created specifically for designing homes, such as Sketchup Pro (the one Joanna Gaines uses) and Chief Architect Home Designer. Both of these programs have powerful tools that let you to customize and design your home the way you want it.
In addition to these programs, there are other online tools that can help your small house design. These are a little less money, but not as robust.
You could try the ones at RoomSketcher.com, Planner5d.com or Home.By.Me., in addition to many others. These tools each work a little differently, but they can all be used to sketch out ideas, generate 3D models, and sometimes even generate building plans.
Some software programs are created specifically for designing homes, such as Sketchup Pro and Chief Architect Home Designer. Both of these programs let you customize and design your home the way you want it.
Still, if you’re looking for highly detailed, custom plans, you may need to hire an architect or engineer to create something unique for your home. This is typically the most expensive option, but if you’re looking for something truly custom, that may be your best route.
How to Proceed when You’re Ready to Build Your New Home
The first step in building a modern small house is to find the perfect lot for your home. It is important to find a lot that has the right size and shape for the type of home you’re building. You’ll need the proper setback (distance from property lines) on each side, plus any special considerations – like a steep slope needed for a walkout design.
Once you’ve found the perfect lot, it is time to finalize the design for your home! Check the options above to see how. Will you design or buy your small home design blueprints?
When your design is ready, it is time to start the building process. You’ll need to hire a general contractor to oversee and manage all the details of the construction process – including hiring subcontractors for your new home’s foundation, framing, roofing. electric, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, sheetrock, painting, cabinets, trim work, exterior siding, windows and doors.
Can you build without a general contractor? People try it all the time. But unless you know what you’re doing, I wouldn’t advise it. Like most things, we don’t know what we don’t know. Right in the middle of house building isn’t the time to find that out.
Finally, once the building process is complete, it is time to move into your new home. You did it!
With careful planning and the right design, you can create a small house design that you will enjoy for years to come. Start planning today, and you’ll be ready to go when the time is right.
What to Do Now
Enjoy what you’re reading? Here’s what to do next:
- Go ahead and Pin or Share this article right now. Don’t worry, we’ll wait!
- Leave a comment below
- Read another blog post here
- Subscribe to our (almost) famous newsletter:
Thanks for stopping by! See you next time. 🙂