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21 tips to maximize a space for a family of five

What do you get when you combine a family of five, one small house and out-of-the-box thinking? A revolutionary home with smart space-saving solutions.
21 tips to maximize a space for a family of five

Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Maximize space, family of five, three-storey home

A three-storey 1,800-sq.-ft. home

With a background in engineering, Dylan Horvathprincipal of product-development firm Cortex Design, wanted his home in the city to work as well as a machine but still feel warm and inviting for his three children and his wife, Sunshine. 

He enlisted the help of architect Wanda Ely to come up with a plan for the house that used every inch of available space while paying attention to all the small details. By modifying off-the-shelf systems like Ikea wardrobes and kitchen cabinets with vintage pieces and custom fittings, they achieved the bespoke look they love and the super-functional home they need.

Architect, Wanda Ely Architect Inc. Contractors, Stephen Guy McGrath & Christian Bellsmith, Bellsmith Carpentry.

Staircase-in-kitchen-architect-Dylan-Horvath-and-sonPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Maximize flow with smart space planning

The first step in any home renovation is to evaluate the floor plan. Here the basement stairs were modified, and the landing was removed to allow for three extra feet of counter space in the kitchen.

Run shelves of varied lengths. Different lengths of shelving help to define the space and provide easy access to frequently used plates and bowls.

Add hooks for pots and pans to a vent hood or wall. It frees up cabinet space and puts everything you need at your fingertips.

Cabinets, Ikea. Backsplash & Entry tile, Olympia Tile. Hardware, Richelieu. Pendant light, Dylan Horvath. Lockers, Smash.

Smart-Storage-kitchen-hanging-pots-countersPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Turn a small nook into a coffee station

This tucked-away counter conceals mess from the dining room and provides an additional prep spot.

Smart-Storage-kitchen-counter-with-platesPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Use glass partitions instead of traditional stair spindles to give the illusion of space

The glass opens up the area and allows light to filter in from the second floor.

Recess light switches into the wall for a custom look. Using end-grain plywood makes an often-bumped small side wall more durable and practical.

Smart-Storage-wooden-hallway-recess-light-switch-glass-staircasePhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Designate storage for each family member

In the entryway, repurposed industrial lockers are given new life when built into an Ikea wardrobe that has been fitted with custom plywood doors and panelling.

Install a commercial grate floor to trap mud and dirt. Dylan loved the functionality of the indoor metal grates he saw in commercial buildings, so he installed one that allows water and dirt to fall into a cleanable tray below.

Smart-Storage-commercial-grate-floorPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Choose hard-wearing materials

Dylan chose brick, plywood, tempered glass and marble tile for their durability and longevity. His goal was to eliminate as much easily damaged drywall as possible.

Expose beams to play up ceilings.
It lends a loft-like appeal while extending the height of the ceilings.

Maximize seating with a wall-to-wall sectional. It provides plenty of places to sit without crowding the room with furniture.

Skip the coffee table to free up space for toys and entertaining. It’s one of the ways the floor plan is kept flexible to accommodate parties and other activities.

Sectional, Gusmodern. Table, Restoration Hardware. Chairs, Design Republic. Flooring, Stone Tile

Smart-Storage-open-concept-living-room-taupe-couchPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Customize chalkboard paint to get the hue you want

Dylan wanted to replicate the look of old blueprints for this art wall. It has become a place where the whole family shares ideas, and it eliminates messy paper.

Smart-Storage-customized-chalkboard-paintPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Invest in a large, rustic dining table that doubles as a homework spot

Choose dual-function pieces for other places in your home too, like a daybed that turns into a guest bed.


Smart-Storage-rustic-dining-table-brick-wallPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Squeeze extra shelves into awkward spaces

Even the smallest ledge will provide a place for something.

Build test tubes and jars into shelves for toothbrushes, cotton balls, hair elastics and swabs. Daily essentials are given a specific spot, which keeps the shelves looking neat and tidy.

Get more bathroom space with a narrow (but long) bathoom sink. This one has two faucets, so two family members can use it at once.

Light, Sonneman. Faucets, Hansgrohe. Tile, Stone Tile.

Smart-Storage-small-shelves-for-awkward-spaces-in-bathroomPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Install a stackable washer-dryer in a bathroom closet

Dylan and Sunshine decided to do their laundry where everyone takes off their clothes most. A heated towel warmer doubles as a drying rack and makes bathing and laundry a one-stop shop.

Use the inside of (sturdy) doors for overflow items. Here a wall caddy hides vitamins, moisturizers and haircare products and keeps the open shelves in the bathroom from getting too busy and cluttered.

Smart-Storage-Wall-Caddy-inside-DoorPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Skip curtains and opt for frosted windows

They create privacy without adding the bulk of drapery and allow light to filter in.

Cut into walls to create bookshelves. A dead space behind the kitchen pantry now olds shelves for cookbooks and a thermostat. Walls often hide secret pockets of space that you can use instead of adding bulky furniture.

Smart-Storage-brick-kitchen-with-plastic-chairs-and-light-filtering-through-windowPhoto, Roberto Caruso.


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