Small House Plans: Features That Make Small Homes More Livable

Whether you're hoping to build a mother-in-law add-on unit or aiming to limit your family's carbon footprint, there are plenty of reasons for choosing small house plans. The most common reason for choosing small home plans is that your home will be built on a smaller lot. Below, we've gathered design tips for small house plans - look for these characteristics in house plans you're considering.

1. A design that splits bedrooms. Savvy designers place bedrooms on opposite ends of the home. Even in a small house, this extra padding means fewer noise interruptions for sleepers. If the bedrooms are all side-by-side in home plans, even the opening and closing of drawers will seem loud to nearby occupants. Check that your small house plans place bedrooms farther away from each other, so your family members can do whatever they need to do without creating an irritating disturbance for others.

2. Smart sight lines. Living in a small house can challenge anyone's need for privacy. Poorly thought-out sight lines often exacerbate this tendency. For instance, it's common for the rooms of smaller homes to radiate off of one central living, dining and kitchen area. A pet peeve of many who have lived in this type of arrangement is that you can too easily see into surrounding rooms from the public area. As you visualize your house plans, look for winding designs that make each room feel more private and protected.

3. Lofty ceilings. While reviewing design options, remember that higher ceilings will make any space feel larger. This kind of information will be included in your small house plans. Ideally, you should have 8-foot ceilings in the most commonly used spaces. If it's not easy to determine ceiling height, see if the home plans you're looking at list the height of the "plate." This is the height at which the home's roof beams rest.

4. Well-designed outdoor areas. If possible, choose small house plans that incorporate attractive outdoor living areas. Outdoor living is an excellent way to make a small home "live large." Many homeowners choose to have a smaller front porch and a larger, more private back patio area. Your outdoor spaces should be well suited for your habits as well as the light patterns in the home. (If you enjoy watching the sunset from your western-facing lot, for instance, you would do well to choose house plans with a sun porch in front.)

5. Long, narrow garage. For many Americans, the ability to protect their vehicles is a priority. If this is true for you, select small house plans that include a two-car garage. To be more specific, the garage should be long enough to accommodate longer vehicles and just wide enough to hold two vehicles. This design maximizes your square footage. Plus, if you drive compact cars, this design will afford you garage storage space up front.

6. Only one full bath. Our favorite small house plans include a tub and shower in the master bedroom, and just a shower in the second bath. This approach maximizes space while accommodating those who enjoy a good soak.

One last recommendation for making any home plans seem larger: Aim for plenty of natural lighting. Carefully examine the windows and skylights in the home design; remember that all rooms will seem more spacious if they have plenty of natural light.