As a kitchen and bath designer, Karen Swanson, of New England Design Works, is used to precisely measuring and planning spaces so that everything fits. Those skills came in handy as she outfitted her own petite home. Swanson and her two kids, Paige, 13, and Charlie, 9, downsized from a 3,300-square-foot home to a trim 1,200-square-foot three bedroom in Manchester-by-the-Sea last spring. The transition has been easy — the cedar-shingled two-story is aesthetically delightful, with simple furnishings, snazzy colors, and cleverly designed storage.
Swanson likens laying out the rooms to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. For instance, if the sofa were an inch or two longer, the front door wouldn’t fully open. But the real acrobatics happened in the 75-square-foot kitchen, in which she managed to accommodate her favorite luxuries, from an induction cooktop and Wolf oven to a dishwasher and Sub-Zero fridge, along with extra-deep pot drawers and a floor-to-ceiling pantry.
In addition to the home’s simplicity — “No basement means no flooding or mice” — Swanson appreciates how less square footage has yielded more family time. “I see them a lot more now than I did before,” she says of her kids. They eat and watch TV together in the main living space but can retreat to their respective bedrooms for privacy. “There have been absolutely no compromises here,” Swanson says. “In fact, it’s better.”