Downsizing to Your Dream Home: Making the Most of a Smaller Space

November 28, 2016 5

There are many reasons why you might move into a smaller living space. You may have children who have grown up and moved out, so it’s not practical to have a large family home for just you and your partner. Sometimes the constant property maintenance and upkeep of a big house can be a hassle, so you may want the convenience of a condo or duplex. You may also want to move closer to work or family in a large urban area and the only available option is a more compact living arrangement. Whatever your reason may be, you might feel like downsizing is about giving something up, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to create your dream home.

We asked interior designer Karley Villeneuve of Ace Lange Homes in Edmonton for some easy-to-follow guidelines for creating your dream space when downsizing.

Karley walked us through some of the choices she made with the owners of a duplex unit who wanted convenient living but also wanted to reflect their style and a sense of luxury. Karley was able to bring their vision to life while having the maintenance-free exteriors of a development community.

Downsizing doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice either functionality or style.

The homeowners enjoy entertaining so they wanted a very open and informal space that still felt elegant and sophisticated. They wanted to create their forever home where they could comfortably live their retirement years, so both style and functionality were crucial elements of the design.

Here’s what Karley had to say about how to make the most of the space you have:


Tip #1: Add texture, dimension and interest to a functional area

When downsizing, every inch, every corner and every blank wall becomes important. Hallways and transitional spaces are perfect areas to add interest to an otherwise functional area. A transitional wall leading you from one area to the next can be an opportunity for a feature that ties separate areas together and creates flow through your home.

In this case, the foyer is not only the first area that you see when entering the home, but also enters into the den and flows through to the stairway. We took advantage of the long and otherwise plain wall in the entry and added horizontal walnut slats from floor to ceiling, and spanned the entire 18-foot wall.

Concealing the entry to the den, a custom barn door became a feature in itself, creating mystery to what was behind it. To add interest to the opposite wall, we created a very simple yet beautiful vignette adding drama in the lighting. We chose the Arteriors Adele Pendant for its sheen and texture in the solid brass bands, which have a much different feel than the softness in the walnut, yet still mimic the lines of the wooden slats.



Tip #2: Create individual spaces within your open concept

Moving away from traditional dining rooms and living rooms can be challenging for clients who are downsizing. With a more open space without walls to separate rooms, it’s important to create flow and yet allow each section of the home be distinct and unique.

We had three distinct themes that all tied into one another: walnut, marble and book-matched patterns. The long, horizontal lines of the walnut wall carry you from the entryway through to the stairwell where we added walnut elements into the posts of the glass railing, carrying on the walnut theme. We also carried the walnut motif into the kitchen with a beautiful, book-matched feature panel in the cabinetry. The book-matched walnut then ties into the stunning book-matched marble on the fireplace.

We highlighted the marble fireplace, and the book-matched theme with Kichler Mona sconces that flank the fireplace and add warmth to the area.



We continued the marble theme in the entryway and master ensuite, creating a unified look throughout the home. While there are common themes throughout, each section remains unique with distinct features, finishes and fixtures.

When working with a smaller open-concept home, it’s important to keep some consistency that will allow feature elements to shine. For example, with mostly pot lights throughout the main area of the home, we wanted the one hanging fixture to be a focal point for the space. The Vienna Chandelier from Robert Abbey over the dining table anchors the dining area and creates a very atmospheric glow when dining under it. This chandelier distinguishes the dining room as a unique space while also creating a major focal point for the entire home.



Tip #3: Investing in function when downsizing

When moving from a larger family home to a more appropriately-sized home for two, it’s important to scale back. Scaling back can be difficult, but a space always feels best when each item or element, small or large, serves a purpose and brings you joy. Investing in function is the key to making the most of your space, especially in an open concept.

In this home, we removed the closed pantry from the plan and opened up space to flow from the kitchen into the mudroom. We also added floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, which gave the client the necessary storage that a pantry would have provided and also made for a visually larger kitchen with a more modern layout and design.

We also chose to carry the cabinets around the corner from the kitchen into the pathway from the entry. What would have originally been a plain wall dividing spaces became the perfect area for a wet bar and additional cabinetry storage. By wrapping the cabinetry around the corner, we opened up the kitchen for a more inviting feel.

The trough sink from Kindred is perfect for entertaining as you can fill it with ice and beverages. Paired with the GROHE LadyLux pull-out bar faucet, this space also becomes a secondary prep area, perfect for washing vegetables or prepping holiday meals.



Making the most of the space you have is crucial for creating a dream living space that’s also functional. If you need some advice for choosing the right lighting or plumbing fixtures to complement a smaller living space, come into a Robinson showroom and let our experts guide you.


Karley Villeneuve — Ace Lange Homes


This post was written in collaboration with Karley Villeneuve of Ace Lange Homes. Ace Lange Homes is a custom home builder in Edmonton that specializes in creating stylish yet functional living spaces tailored to their clients’ individual needs. Karley Villeneuve and Ace Lange Homes were instrumental in the design and execution of the home featured in our 2016 Fall Flyer, which can be seen here.