5 ADU Design Tips To Make the Space Feel Larger

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can be an amazing extra source of income for you and your family. But since space is limited, they can easily feel cramped and unappealing to potential renters. How do you make each square inch count in a small ADU space?

Fortunately, there are tons of tricks you can use in your common ADU layouts that help the space feel open and spacious, without needing a full-scale rebuild. Want to find out more? Great!

Follow this 5-step guide to learn everything you need to know about putting together an ADU home that any renter would love.

1. Boost the Available Space

The first thing you want to do is utilize and maximize any available space. This can be done by replacing big items with smaller ones, using multifunctional furniture, and keeping clutter to a minimum.

Replacing Big Items with Smaller Ones

If you can replace any item with something smaller that does the same job, you should. For dining tables, desks, kitchen islands, or bars, only use seating options that you can tuck away completely. In the living room area, use footstools that fit underneath the coffee table.

Using Multifunctional Furniture

Next, make use of multifunctional furniture to maximize floor space. Bookcases with fold-down desks, under-bed storage, and fold-away dining tables are just a few of the many space-saving options you can use in your ADU.

Keeping Surfaces Clutter-free

Do your best to keep all worksurfaces clutter-free. Decor is important, but not at the expense of functional surfaces. Avoid using decor on desks and kitchen counters unless it serves a function in that space.

2. Maximize and Increase Light

Lighting plays a huge role in how a room feels, particularly in smaller spaces. Boosting the brightness in your ADU helps the home feel open and spacious. Before adding extra light sources, make sure your ADU design features take advantage of natural light.

Maximizing Natural Light

To keep the space bright, don’t block any of the windows with dark and heavy window coverings. Instead, use light and airy window coverings that carry the sunshine inside. This is particularly important in working areas where the inhabitants will spend most of their time during the day. In bedrooms, blackout curtains or blinds are essential for night-time. Make sure these can be pulled back completely, so they don’t block any part of the window during the day.

Using Artificial Light Sources Effectively

When using artificial light sources, it’s important to choose the right temperature bulbs for different areas of the ADU. In functional spaces, like home offices and kitchens, use daylight bulbs to imitate the light you’d get from the sun. In spaces for relaxing and winding down, like living rooms and bedrooms, use warm-white bulbs to make the areas feel cozy. Using different bulb colors helps to visually separate open-plan spaces into different zones.

To make the space feel bigger, angle lights towards the ceiling or towards white walls. This bounces the light off the surface and brightens the space without casting harsh shadows. This technique is also useful for brightening the room without taking up much surface space or floor space.

3. Keep Furniture Low and Streamlined

The furniture you use has a major impact on the look and feel of the room. You want to choose furniture that will keep your ADU open and airy, rather than crowded and unappealing. To do this, look for furniture pieces with low profiles and slim designs.

How to Choose Low-profile Furniture

You can create a feeling of openness in your ADU by using low-profile furniture. When furniture is closer to the ground, you have more open space between the furniture and the ceiling. This creates the illusion of higher ceilings and helps to lengthen each room. If you can’t find the perfect low-lying couch, you can often switch out the legs with something short and slim.

How to Choose Furniture With a Slim Design

It’s also a good idea to avoid any bulky-looking furniture. Bulky furniture quickly makes the room feel cramped and overfilled. Choose furniture with slim designs and delicate lines.

Be sure to choose furniture that doesn’t rest directly on the ground. Any piece with legs lets light travel beneath it, helping keep the room bright and spacious. Coffee tables or couches that have full, solid bases look bigger than they are. This weighs down the room and creates a crowded, clustered feeling.

4. Carry The Eye Upwards

To expand the space in your ADU, try to carry the eye upwards. You can do this with shelving and cabinetry, wall art, or plants and standing lamps.

Be wary of overfilling the walls in your ADU. extra storage and decor is good, but too much of a good thing can create a cluttered and overly busy appearance. Keep at least one wall open per room to prevent overdoing it.

How to Style Shelving in an ADU

Open shelving is a stylish way to show off your personal interests and design aesthetic. When installing shelves, place them at eye level and higher. This helps extend the wall and make the room feel spacious and open.

If you want to install upper cabinetry in the kitchen section to boost the storage options, opt for shallow upper cabinets. Shallow cabinets block less light and increase the open space in the kitchen. Making mistakes in the kitchen is one of the easiest ADU design mistakes you can make.

How to Use Wall Art in an ADU

Wall art has the ability to completely transform a room. It can dictate your interior design style when designing your ADU by acting as an inspiration source for colors and lines.

When choosing artwork for your ADU, opt for one big piece over several smaller pieces. Gallery walls are popular in many homes, but they don’t always work well in a smaller spaces. Bigger pieces of simple and clean artwork make each room feel big and open.

How to Choose Plants and Floor Lamps

Plants and standing lamps play huge roles in creating ambiance in a room. To minimize the amount of floor space these items take up, choose skinny and tall plants and lamps. Some skinny and tall indoor plants include a snake plant, bamboo palm, or fiddle leaf fig.

Design the ADU of Your Dreams Today

By now, you should know how to create a feeling of openness in your ADU. With a few clever design tips, you can create a small space with big impact.

If you’re looking to build an ADU in your backyard, Jay Cad is here to make it easy for you. We pride ourselves on providing the ultimate ADU drafting service, complete with efficiency and speedy turnaround. Request a quote today and let us get started building your next investment.


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