Micro Living in a Compact Home? Storage Solutions to Consider!
COMPACT HOME? MICRO LIVING WITH LIMITED SPACE?
You don’t have to give up storage and functional space to live in a smaller home!
In 2007, there was an emergence of the compact home or tiny-house movement or the “small-house” movement within North America, which is an architectural and social movement advocating living simply in small homes. By 2012, these tiny homes eventually evolved into even smaller spaces as these ‘homes on wheels’ with under 400 square feet or even less in living space.
Living in these smaller spaces are appealing to some prospective home buyers due to affordability and also the desire to create a more minimalist lifestyle.
So the question is, is there still a surging trend for tiny homes? And if so, why does this trend exist and how has it evolved in the current real estate market climate?
In the current North America real estate market, the compact home or tiny house on wheels is still a home option for some, but issues such as getting bank financing, having the assurance of quality, solid and safe construction and also, where to park the home given inhibitive zoning laws are all unappealing to a percentage of prospective home buyers who want to or can only afford to live in a smaller space. Given this, new more practical and appealing trends for this percentage of the home buyer population is emerging, which encompasses the ideology of ‘micro living’ with micro-homes or micro-condo living spaces. These micro living spaces are also an affordable option for renters within a growing, high-cost rental market.
These new trends create so many more options in compact home or micro living for everyone who wants a more minimalist living space or for those looking for a more economical, lower cost home. There is something for everyone!
What are these new compact home and micro living trends? Let’s explore!
Multi-residential Miro-units – These micro apartments embrace the ideology of investing in experiences and simplified urban living with modern convenience versus accumulating material possessions. The multi-residential micro-units are apartments with a smaller footprint of under 500 square feet or less of living space.
These micro-apartments offer stunning design and functional living spaces, which are affordable and also embody a more minimalist lifestyle. The idea behind these smaller spaces is for the home environment to act like a dwelling where it meets the basic necessitates where you can eat, bathe, sleep and relax. But, instead of accumulating material possessions that are not always needed for daily use, the investment of time and money is placed in experiences such as entertainment, travelling, dining out, live theatre, interacting with friends, etc., which are all activities done outside of the home environment.
The other attraction of the micro-apartment is convenient and easy access to modern amenities and services such as a fitness centre, hair salon and coffee shop, which are all located on the ground floor of the apartment complex.
“Micro units will always fulfill a special segment of the market for those who need an affordable housing option or minimal living enthusiasts. Gone are the days of ‘McMansions’ as baby boomers downsize to simplify their new empty-nester lifestyle and the green buyer chooses not to heat or furnish these huge spaces. With smaller footprints, millennials can finally able to afford a place of their own. Less space allows less stuff and less cleaning, which affords people more time to socialize outside of the home or travel. Today’s homeowner values sustainability, simplicity without forgoing luxury. Just because people are opting for smaller footprints doesn’t mean they’re skimping on finishes. High tech amenities like mirrored medicine cabinets with built-in lighting and outlets and Bluetooth capabilities, and toilet bidets are practical luxuries which soon everyone will expect.
Once COVID subsides, people will start migrating back to the urban core. I see micro-housing will gain greater popularity as the cost of living and construction increases exponentially and workers are required to be back at the office whereby commutes again become an important factor in housing trends”, says Jennifer Wen, Residential & Commercial Specialist for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Bellevue, WA.
As Jennifer Wen states, micro unit living does not mean there are compromises on luxury or functionality or storage or design. DWELL.com lists the top 19 micro-apartments across the globe, which reflects a finessed, stunning and creative design aesthetic with functionality.
Laneway House or Garden Home – These laneway or garden homes offer the option of affordable single detached home living for those who want the increased privacy not found in apartment living. The laneway or garden home also embraces the multi-generation ideology by creating and maintaining extended family unit interactions across generations.
Laneway and garden houses are built on pre-existing lots of an existing average or larger sized single detached home. These are detached secondary suites located in the back lane or in the backyard, which offer 1000 square feet or less of living space. Not only do laneway and garden houses offer an affordable single detached living option, it also increases the value of the existing lot.
This growing house trend since 2019 for laneway and garden homes, due to the high cost of real estate is a highlight story according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.
Laneway and garden homes provide living options for prospective homeowners, renters, for those looking to down-size and it can be used as an in-law suite or for other family members. When used to house family members such as your daughter and son-in-law and their newborn baby; it provides them the privacy of their own detached living space while also, being able to stay close to their family for the interaction and support of the ‘family bond’.
“With regards to laneway and garden homes, I see them as a fantastic way to accommodate multi-generational or multi-family living on a parcel of land, while still allowing each party their own space. As house prices continuing to climb, garden suites provide the opportunity for family members of friends to purchase a property together which can make owning a home more affordable and accessible for both parties. With that said, the occupant of the garden suite will have to be more creative with their space as the size of the building is limited by the local zoning bylaws. A well thought out layout and creative storage solutions can go a long way in making a smaller space feel larger than it is” says Mark Nelson, Realtor and Founding Partner of THE AGENCY in Victoria, BC.
An article from “Architecture Art Designs” outlines in further detail the huge benefits of laneway and garden houses.
So, now that we took a tour of the new and evolving compact home or micro living trends, let’s talk about the one concern home buyers have in regards to living in a smaller space.
Immediately when someone thinks about a smaller living space, they automatically assume they will have to compromise on practical features such as storage space. This is especially a concern for a smaller bathroom where storage space is a key feature of a practical and proper functioning bathroom.
For other areas of these micro-homes, creative storage can be implemented by building walls with hidden built-in storage compartments and by adding as much cabinetry in the kitchen as possible. And for smaller bathrooms in these micro homes, storage options such as mirrored medicine cabinets are a great design solution to address any storage space issues.
Using a mirrored cabinet in a small bathroom is an innovative solution to prevent homeowners of these smaller home environments from having to compromise in this living space.
Not only does a mirrored cabinet offer storage, it also functions as a mirror and as a light source (with the lit LED cabinets) giving you the best of three worlds. And when it is recessed into the wall, the mirrored cabinet’s storage functionality is hidden as it will sit flush within the wall space. So, your storage solution is disguised.
And for the smaller bedroom space, a mirrored cabinet such as the SIDLER® Tall collection can function as a full length mirror with storage. This can also be recessed for a flushed appearance on the wall space. With a mirrored cabinet in the smaller bedroom space, you can get dressed in the morning to ensure your outfit looks presentable while also, having storage for your hairdryer, jewelry or socks or other bedroom items.
If you are looking to purchase a home, but have a smaller budget to work with or you want to minimize or downsize; then smaller living spaces such as these micro-homes are a perfect option for you. And with storage solutions such as mirrored cabinets, you don’t have to compromise on losing the practical storage space you need in a smaller living environment. So, don’t worry or stress out about having to make any storage space compromises when taking the huge leap to micro living.