Living Large in a Tiny Apartment

Think you don’t have enough space? You might be surprised!  We loved a recent story on Houzz about transforming 225 square feet into a fully functional apartment. The key is a storage wall that serves as a Swiss Army Knife of function. A bed, table, computer screen, wardrobe, audio visual equipment and more simply slide out of the storage wall when in use.

You can see the images in this slide show display. Simply click on any image to view the full story on Houzz.com.

 

 To find out more about maximizing small space, check out some of our previous blog posts:

 We love coming up with creative ways to maximize space. Please contact us if you would like to transform your own home in the Boston metro area!

Tags: small space design, small home renovation, small space

Small Spaces are a Big Thing

Cambridge MA small space renovation

The Tiny House Movement is catching on across the country as a way to minimize your environmental footprint and free yourself from the financial burden of purchasing and maintaining more house than you really need. As the Movement states on its website, “The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.”

Few of our client want to live in a home that is quite that small, but we are seeing great interest in remodeling small homes to maximize space, rather than building big additions or moving to big houses in search of square footage. The high price of real estate in the Boston area, coupled with the region’s older housing stock, often make a smaller home a given. Nonetheless, many of our clients savor the convenience of living in efficient spaces where every foot is used effectively.

Small House Transformation is one of the most viewed galleries on our website and many of you have taken the time to read blog posts dedicated to small spaces, including Make the Most of a Tight Entryway, The Beauty of Built-Ins to Maximize Space, and Small Space Renovation: Living Large in a Small Space.

If you live in a small home, you may also be interested in this slideshow from Houzz. It has been on the site since 2014, but  is well worth viewing (and reading on the Houzz website) because of the emphasis on creating flexible spaces that do double (or triple) duty. We love living in a home that embodies many of points made in this slide show! Just click any of the images to go to the full article on Houzz.

 

Ready to get started making the most of your spaces?Contact us today to discuss our design/build renovation services!

Tags: small space design, small space, small space renovation

Make the Most of a Tight Entryway

When you, your family and guests first enter your home, how are you greeted? Is there a place for you to sit down and pull off snowboots or put heavy parcels down? Is there a clearly defined place to hang coats, place a wet umbrella or place a handbag?

An entryway is a gracious and convenient transition space before entering the primary living areas, but what if your home does not have an official entryway? When we renovated our compact, Victorian-era home we extended an interior wall by just one foot to create more of an entry area near the front door. We also changed the front door so it swings out, opening up space for an efficient storage unit. A sunken entry rug prevents trips, while unobtrusively trapping moisture and dirt.

Morse_Constructions_entry_way_remodel

 

We switched to a space-saving Runtal radiator in the entry area to accomodate a small bench for removing shoes or setting down mail and packages.

For more ways to create an entryway, please scroll through the slide show from Houzz that we embedded below. Just click any image to go to the full article on Houzz.com.


For more information about Morse Constructions or to discuss your renovation plans, please give us a call at 617-666-4460 or contact us online.

 

Tags: small space design, best use of space, small space renovation

Creative Storage Space in Bedrooms

We recently wrote about how to find storage space in an older home and illustrated the article with a photo of a Cambridge bedroom with walls of built-in storage. When Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill wrote an article on creative storage in guest rooms, she shared our photo as a perfect example!

Here's the photo:

bedroom storage Cambridge, MA

And here is what Laura wrote about it:

If you have a window in your guest room, consider working a window seat with hidden storage into the plan. Think through what you need to store before deciding on a layout for your cabinetry — tall cabinets for wardrobe items, drawers for sweaters, shelves for bedding or books.

Here is a slideshow of the entire Houzz article. Simply click on any of the images to go to the full article on Houzz.com.

Since Laura's article ran, hundreds of people have added our project photo to their Houzz Ideabooks for inspiration for their own projects.

If you are thinking of renovating to make your home or a room work more effectively for you, please contact us! We welcome the opportunity to listen to your needs and discuss beautiful, creative ways to enhance your home.

Tags: small space design, storage, bedroom storage, remodeling, renovation

Small Space Renovation: Living Large in a Small Space

Even renovation professionals live in homes that are sometimes less than perfect. Paul and Karen Morse, founders of Morse Constructions, treasured their Cambridge home, despite a first floor that didn’t make the most of the available space.


Paul and Karen are deeply involved in their community and had no desire to ever move. After decades helping clients to renovate homes so they could “stay put,” Paul and Karen knew that the time had come to become their own client.


Paul and Karen Morse

The traditional first floor plan and furnishings in their Victorian home were no longer working for the Morses. Paul and Karen identified a long list of ambitious goals for the space, including:

  • Create serene, uncluttered, open space

  • Create flexible spaces to serve multiple purposes at any time without a great deal of work

  • Create spaces ideal for entertaining

  • Support aging-in-place with special features and a floor plan that could be easily adapted to accommodate one floor living

  • Improve the energy efficiency and comfort

  • Re-use as much as possible to minimize waste

  • Flood spaces with natural light

  • Create a highly functional entryway that serves multiple purposes and minimizes clutter


Morse Constructions collaborated with Barbara Hirsch of Elza B. Design to make sure that the floor plan and furnishings worked together to create the peaceful, unencumbered, flexible, open spaces that were central to Paul’s and Karen’s vision.

 

BEFORE

Morse Constructions Before Floor Plan

AFTER

Morse Constructions After Floor Plan


Working within the existing footprint, the team first looked at the floor plan to create the flexible, open spaces that Paul and Karen wanted. Small changes delivered big results. A large beam replaced a bearing center wall to open up the space. The entry way wall was extended just a foot, yet that small extension made the entry way feel much larger while providing definition to the adjacent room. A light color scheme was chosen to maintain the airiness and serenity of the first floor. Pops of color from furnishings such as the Turkish rug in this photo were used to enliven the spaces.

Morse Constructions living room renovation 1 resized 600

Worn out oak flooring and the kitchen’s cork floor were replaced with maple throughout the first floor. The uniform flooring, combined with the lack of thresholds, creates a seamless look that makes the space feel larger.


Streamlined Runtal radiators replaced six, old, covered cast iron radiators. The new Runtals free up visual – and actual – space while delivering much more energy efficient heat.

Morse Constructions living room renovation resized 600

“We regularly entertain and have different sized groups of family and friends. Comfort is key, whether it is just the two of us, a small group, or 40 people,” explains Karen.  Furnishings were selected to enhance the flexibility of the space. For example, the low bookcase in the photo below is comprised of two units on castors that may be easily reconfigured and moved around.

Morse Constructions Boston area living room remodel resized 600

Similarly, the sectional in the photo below serves multiple uses. It provides intimate seating around the gas fireplace in the configuration shown here, or it may be separated and turned around for extra seating when a group is enjoying movies or slide shows on the nearby TV. The swivel chair provides a comfortable perch for conversations with the cook in the kitchen, or as part of the seating cluster around the fireplace.

Morse fireplace renovation resized 600

Paul and Karen enjoy having friends over to watch movies or slide shows from recent travels, but they did not want the TV to be a focal point. The team’s solution was to mount a flat screen TV on a wall platform that extends and swivels for optimal viewing positions, yet rests flat against the wall when not in use.

Morse Constructions TV room remodel resized 600

Morse Constructions dining room remodel

The dining room features a distinctive, handcrafted table that is extraordinarily durable. When not in use for entertaining or family dinners, the dining room becomes a project space. The tea cart holding the flowers in this photo provides additional serving capabilities without adding visual weight to the room.

 

 

 

 

 


The Morses loved the layout of their existing kitchen. They made the most of what was already there by painting the existing cabinetry with white high-gloss finish, updating hardware and ceiling light/fan. The light-filled space offers both a peninsula and an island for guests to gather around to talk with Karen as she prepares meals for the many social events that she and Paul host.

 

Cambridge MA Kitchen Remodel resized 600

Desk space in the kitchen makes the space a multi-functional work center. The lower counter provides convenient work space for a seated cook.

Morse Constructions kitchen renovation resized 600

Morse Constructions entry way remodelThe small entryway packs multiple functions into a small footprint. The exterior door opens out to free up useable space for an efficient storage unit. As part of the Morse’s aging-in-place considerations, a sunken entry rug prevents trips, while unobtrusively trapping moisture and dirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The adjacent bench is the perfect location for removing shoes or setting down mail and packages. It matches the nearby dining room table to provide visual continuity.

Morse Constructions interior renovation

Paul and Karen couldn’t be happier with their “new” home. Their vision for the space was realized and they now have the comfort of knowing that they will be able to age in place. Should they have health or mobility issues in the future, the half bath may easily be expanded to a full bath and the dining area may be converted to a bedroom to permit first floor living.

For ideas about how you may make the most of your space, please contact us!  


 

 

Tags: small space design, Boston renovation, aging in place, remodeling project photos, Morse Constructions

How to Find Extra Storage Space in an Older Home

If you own an older home, chances are good that inefficient or inadequate storage is high on your list of grievances. We have more – and different – possessions than previous generations. The storage provided in a home built 25, 50 or 100 years ago simply doesn’t work for today’s homeowners.


Most old houses have small (or non-existent) closets and garages. Homes from the 18th and early 19th centuries may have fieldstone foundations and dirt cellars, which limit the storage value of a basement.


The solution is to find extra storage space in the nooks and crannies of your home. With careful planning, it is possible to discover all kinds of untapped storage spaces without expanding a home's footprint. Storage can be tucked into niches or unused corners, around doors, under stairs and eaves, and even hidden beneath stair treads. Basements can be dried out and finished to create functional space.


Have an unused chimney? Take it out and use the space for closets. If you have air ducts left from an abandoned heating system, put that wasted space to work for small shelves or cupboards. If your closets are too narrow, considering enlarging them to get the space you need.


The key is to look at space creatively to make every inch count, as we did for these two Boston-area clients:

creative storage space in bedroom storage wall
  A couple in Cambridge added a tremendous amount of storage in the master bedroom by lining the walls with built-in cabinetry.

hallway bookcase 
These built-in bookshelves provided additional storage in a previously unused corner, while adding architectural interest to the hallway.

Interested in more ideas for renovating an older home? Please download How to Breathe New Life into Older Homes ebook or contact us to discuss your needs. 

Tags: Historic Renovations, small space design, renovation ideas, Boston home renovation