March 30, 1995

Making The Most From The Least

Associated Press

Some simple changes can make a tiny home seem bigger, and smart choices of appliances and furnishings can make the most of the space you have, say two architecture teachers.

Ann Cederna, associate professor of architecture at the Catholic University of America, and Douglas Frederick, a visiting lecturer, are leading a team of students in a project to make a 500-square-foot space livable. Key features are using glass on three sides, putting storage space in the floor and including skylights in the design.

“The best way to open up a small space is to invite the outside in,” says Frederick. He suggests installing bay windows, French doors or floor-to-ceiling windows, all of which will bring in more light and air. If you install a whole wall of windows, use electronic screens - liquid crystal display glass - that will make the walls opaque for privacy when the sun goes down.

All but custom-made skylights are relatively inexpensive and create the feeling of more space, Cederna says. “You feel like your ceiling is taller. They are easy to install, and you can get them with screens to filter the light. Some can be opened and closed electronically. Prismatic glass reflects the light as it comes in, giving you a soft, aesthetically pleasing light.”

Cederna offers some ideas for easy, quick and low-cost changes:

Choose space-saving appliances, like a washer that doubles as a dryer.

A Murphy bed, which pulls down out of the wall, lets you get two uses out of a room - a den and guest room or living room and bedroom. “When the bed is up in a closed position, you don’t see anything. It’s as comfortable as any other bed.”

Install hinged tables in the kitchen to enlarge counter space. They can be folded away when not in use.

Install pull-down screens that fit flush into the ceiling to divide rooms, creating an instant extra room, such as quest quarters.

Most of these projects can be handled over a weekend and aren’t expensive, she says.

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