Small House Living Is About Better Space, Not More Space

Making a mansion out of a molehill

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The 2012 census showed that more and more people are moving back to cities, reversing the trend of suburban flight that dominated the past 50 years.

While cities have advantages like better infrastructure, cultural attractions, and reduced transportation costs, they also tend to have a higher total cost of living and are obviously more crowed. As urban populations rise, there will be more people living in the same area, leading to smaller living spaces for most.

The way we see it, there are two ways to combat this trend. The first: Become super-rich and buy a gilded-age mansion. Then you'll have plenty of room. The second is to simply make better use of what limited space you do have. At KBIS 2014, we saw plenty of companies that embraced the second option.


Cabinet maker Elmwood has created a system that turns an average room into a place of a thousand spaces.

The concept is called Elevated Living, and it aims to pack a whole house worth of living space into one room. During a demonstration on the show floor, an entire wall neatly folded away to reveal a kitchen sink. The functionality is reminiscent of Japanese sliding shoji screens. Every wall in the demonstration opened up to reveal a different, equally crucial element of the home.

With Elmwood's system, studio apartment dwellers could slide a wall to hide a sink full of dirty dishes and turn their kitchen into a living room. Slide open another set of doors and you can bring out the TV. Essentially, you can turn a single room into a jewel–a small space with many facets. Let the poets and philosophy majors contemplate that... since they're probably living in a single room, themselves.

Kohler Tailor Vanity

Kohler also wants you to save space. To that end, its new Tailor Vanity program has revamped under counter space. For example, there's a set of power outlets in a cabinet. That way you can also keep your hairdryer and electric toothbrush plugged in at all times—no separate storage area or additional outlet required.

After all, organization is paramount in a room where you'll probably spend one and a half years of your life.


Glideware's goal is to help you organize your pots and pans. Made up of a husband-and-wife team hailing from Grand Junction, Colorado, their idea is as simple as it is brilliant. Using a roll-out hinge, Glideware installs in any cupboard and lets you hang all your cookware on a retractable rod. Each mechanism can hold up to 100 pounds and an add-on coming later this year will allow you to hang button-top lids.

Summit Appliances

And let's not forget Summit Appliances. The folks at this Bronx-based company sell some of the only 24-inch fridges on the American market, with features and functionality that rival their larger name-brand brethren. Beyond fridges, they also sell a vast variety of compact ovens, microwaves, and laundry machines, among others.

For a full rundown on what makes Summit such an exciting company for urban dwellers, check out our in-depth profile.

Lingering Thoughts

Space /spās/ (noun): 1. The thing you take up.

On Earth, there's a limited amount of it, and using it wisely is important. As people try to eke more living area out of less space, it's likely that more companies will focus on improved organization and new housing configurations. We can't wait to see what else will come down the pike.

After all, it was none other than Socrates himself who once said, "The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less." Apparently, ancient Greece had as hot a housing market as San Francisco.

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