BY RON BARLAY
Despite the recent trendiness of the “tiny house” movement, buyers are almost always looking for elbow room when they’re in the market.
As a real estate agent, I have learned that what buyers are really looking for does not always translate directly into square footage. The real issue is a “feeling” of space. Buyers do not want to feel that the house is cramped, that the spaces are awkward or that there’s just no room for them in the picture.
Space itself is not the problem and I have seen houses with 3,000 square feet of living area that feel like they are half that size. The same thing applies to small homes. With the right approach, a small home can feel spacious and most of all, comfortable. If you want a small home to feel bigger, there are several steps you can take, all of which have served me well.
Clutter: Nothing makes more of a difference than doing a major cleaning and ruthlessly paring down the amount of clutter in the home. When we’ve lived with it for a while, we stop noticing the clutter, but buyers see it immediately. Even if the buyer has trouble explaining that sudden feeling of claustrophobia, clutter is always the prime suspect.
Scale: Large furniture, or too much furniture can make a room seem smaller than it is. Furniture that’s correctly proportioned feels more natural in the room. If the room is crowded with furniture, try doing some editing, even if it means evicting that favorite recliner.
Arrangement: The sense of space is also influenced by furniture arrangement. The right pieces in the right places, arranged into coherent areas, can add to the sense of space and improve traffic flow.
Colors: The choice of colors is also critical, but every situation is different. It’s not always true that the best approach is to use a single color in each room. Sometimes, a wall or trim painted a different color can actually help a space feel bigger.
Mirrors: Strategically placed, mirrors can not only increase light, but they can add a feeling of depth to a room, if placed in the right spots. It’s worth experimenting with size and placement to achieve the best effect.
Free staging is often offered by real estate agents to both small home owners and large home buyers.