Like it or not, one of the modern realities of the housing market is that space is at an absolute premium. Especially in the nation’s cities, rapidly increasing house prices are forcing many Australians to lower their sights and consider buying a smaller home.

But rather than lamenting the loss of that extra bedroom, third bathroom or wine cellar, Aussies are progressively coming to terms with small-house living as an opportunity to maximise functionality and intelligent design within their homes.

Smaller houses are here to stay, so here are 5 ways you can make the most of the space you have and create something stunning in the process. You may be amazed at how big your home feels after all!

1) Let there be light!

Nothing creates space like sunlight – without ample lighting, your small home may indeed feel like a dark cave. Allow the sun’s rays to flood into your home wherever possible; install skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that completely open an external wall, such as ranch sliders. Large windows and openings not only let in light, but create valuable indoor/outdoor flow, mitigating any sense of being enclosed. In rooms which don’t face the sun, you can opt for modern LED lights, many of which now have a ‘natural’ setting, to mimic the warmth and colour of the sun.

2) It’s all gotta go!

Use it or lose it. This will be your golden rule as small homes are not for hoarders! Whilst it may be difficult to part with your old exercycle, you’ll quickly forget why you even had it in the first place and will relish the extra space you thought you never had. Hold a garage-sale, give stuff to friends and family, donate! Get your years worth of good-karma and improve your living spaces at the same time. A minimalist approach is best for decorating; under-buy don’t over-buy – you can always add extra furnishings later if something is truly missing.

3) Select multipurpose furnishings

Rather than taking up the floor with a couch and chest of drawers, why not combine the two? Choosing furniture with built in storage is an effective way to maximise space. Classic solutions include beds and couches with pull-out drawers, or bay window seats with deep cabinets, but there’s really no limit to your options – every home has its own unique opportunities. Bookshelves can be built into walls, drawers can be installed in your staircase, secret wine cellars can be built into the floor.

However, in some instances, less is more and you should forgo incorporating storage features. Dining tables, for example, will only make the room look larger if their legs are raised, as the gap between the floor and the table top creates a more open feel, enhancing the illusion of space.

4) Colour and tone

Selecting lighter colours for your walls and ceilings will make smaller rooms feel much larger. They’ll also reflect natural light around your home, brightening shaded spots. Tones of white are a great choice, as they provide the perfect neutral backdrop to compliment any of your furnishings, enabling you to be more creative with colour schemes. This affords you many options when decorating, such as hanging artwork or placing pot plants. Darker shades can be mixed into rooms through rugs and cushions, adding an element of warmth and comfort to your dwelling.

5) Every Inch Counts!

When living in confined quarters, you’ll need to open up every last inch of available floor space to allow you and your guests to move freely through your home. Don’t despair if your floor is still a minefield even after ditching all your junk and using built in storage, there are still solutions available! Simply moving items from the floor to the walls is an easy and effective way expand a room. Installing wall-mounted shelves and hooks will free up that extra bit of space you needed and allow you to store infrequently used items out of sight. The higher your shelves the better, as furnishings above human eye-level will hardly be noticed nor visually impact the aesthetic of the room.