Bought a House That is Too Small? (Now what?)

Bought a House That is Too Small

There are a lot of reasons why people may end up with a house that is too small. Sometimes people fall in love with how cute a house is and don’t think about the practical considerations of the size of the house.

In other cases, people may love the location of the house and buy a small house because it’s the only house on the market in that location or the only house they can afford in that location. (The latter is how we ended up in an 800-square-foot condo in downtown Richmond.)

It’s also quite common for people to buy a small or outdated home in a great neighborhood hoping to upgrade to a bigger home in the future.

But whatever the reason is that you bought your small house – now you’re in the house and you have to figure out what’s next.

Table of Contents

Selling The House

House For Sale

Selling a house that’s too small may seem like the obvious option, but there are situations where it might not be possible or financially smart to do that. If you just bought the home and you don’t have a lot of equity in the home yet financially you might not be able to buy a bigger home right away.

Also, buying and selling a home can be expensive real estate agent fees. Combine that with hiring another moving company or even renting another DIY moving truck and you can see how selling a house you just bought can be quite costly.

If you bought the home and got a great deal on it because it needs work – that work will need to get done before you can put the house back on the market which means you would have to live there for some time and put money and work into the house to make it attractive to new buyers.

If selling the home isn’t an option you’ll have to figure out how to make living in a too-small house work. Luckily, there are a lot of things that you can do to make a small house comfortable.

If you’re willing to get creative and think outside of the too-small box you can turn that too-small house into a wonderfully cozy home.

Rethinking The Space You Have

A great way to make the most of the space that you do have is to think about how much space you have and how you actually use it. Many people have rooms or spaces in their homes that they don’t actually use.

Rethinking the way that you’re using your space and changing the layout of your home can make your home much more functional. When your home is more functional you may not notice how small it actually is.

For example, if you have a formal dining room and you aren’t going to be entertaining a lot of friends and family members because the house is small use that room for something else. With a barn door it could become another bedroom, an office, or even a playroom.

Don’t feel like you have to use the space in your home for any particular activities. It might be a better use of space to turn the primary bedroom into a bedroom that your kids can share while you sleep in the smaller bedroom. Or building an island into the kitchen where you can all eat instead of having a separate dining space.

Look at a blank floorplan of your house and see if it would make more sense to use the rooms differently than you are now.

Get Creative With Custom Storage

Vertical Storage Space
Getting creative with vertical space is one of the best ways to manage living in a small space.

Storage is absolutely essential in a small house. But it can be difficult to find storage pieces that are sized correctly for a small house.

Custom storage may seem expensive, but having storage that is created to fit exactly where you need it to fit will absolutely change the way your house functions. Have custom cupboards, shelving units, and other storage pieces created for any nook and cranny in the home where you can possibly put them.

You can also create built-in storage to make the best use of the limited space that you have.

For example, have a custom countertop with storage cabinets beneath and overhead installed as a workspace instead of using a desk. And having custom closet storage units installed in all the closets will maximize the available space.

When you have a small house you also need to maximize vertical space and custom storage pieces can help with that.

Expanding your kitchen cupboards with custom cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling can double your storage space without taking up more floor space. A built-in entertainment can maximize the storage in your living space with a very small footprint so you aren’t sacrificing living space for storage.

Get Rid Of Stuff You Don’t Use

People often hang onto things that they don’t need anymore and that can really clutter up a small house. Be ruthless when it comes to downsizing your possessions. If your children are grown you don’t need to have all those toddler toys, even though your kids loved them. You also don’t need to keep your high school mementos or those photos that you’ve been lugging from house to house.

Downsizing the stuff that you keep in your home can be tough, but it will give you a lot more usable space in a small home. And your home will be a collection of things that you really value.

If you don’t want to get rid of items that you’re not using consider renting a storage space and keeping all those items and extra furniture in the storage space. That way you don’t have to say goodbye to treasured items but they won’t be cluttering up your small house.

Choose The Right Size Furniture

Murphy Bed
A Murphy Bed is a great way to open up a room during the day and maximize space.

Another way that you can make the most of your small house is to choose furniture that is the right size for the space you have. It can be challenging to find furniture that will fit into a small house but when you find pieces that fit perfectly it will transform your home.

You can have custom furniture pieces created for your home, or you can think outside the box and look at furniture created for unique living spaces.

For example, if you have a very small living room a small sofa sized for an RV or camper that has recliners would give you comfortable and functional seating that would fit better in your space than a traditional sofa.

If space in the bedroom is tight consider installing a murphy bedOpens in a new tab.. That way you could use that room as an office or other functional space during the day and get the most function possible out of the space. Or have a loft bed built that gives you a space to work and a space to sleep.

Utilize Outdoor Space

If your small home has outdoor space you can use that outdoor space to make the living space that you have feel bigger. Put in a nice deck or concrete patio and furnish it with outdoor sofas and comfortable chairs. Put in a fire pit and game area to really make the area a space to have fun and relax.

By connecting the indoor and outdoor living spaces you will make the home feel a lot more spacious than it actually is.

Get Professional Help

If you are getting frustrated trying to find ways to make your too-small house work for you and you can’t move for various reasons then you may want to hire a professional designer. A designer that has experience and education in making the most out of small spaces can take your existing home and show you potential that you don’t see.

With a fresh eye and design skills honed by years of making spaces work for their owners a professional can help you turn your frustrating too-small house into a space that will give you the functional and beautiful home that you need.

You may even decide that your small home is really the perfect home for you and your family.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of reasons why you may end up in a house that is smaller than what you were used to like moving from a small town to a bigger city.

The most important thing is not to panic. Take a breath, reexamine your living space and try to get creative – even if that means bringing in a professional to help you with that creativity!


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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