4 Expert Tips To Save Space In Your Granny Flat Design

Let’s face it; we all wish we had a little extra room in our granny flat. Many Australian families are using them as their primary residence today, so it’s not surprising to feel short on space at times (especially with children or pets).

When designing granny flats for our clients (or incorporating one of our existing granny flat designs), the most common question we get at RESCON Builders is how big we can make it.  We’ve even had requests for double-storey designs!.  To clarify, council regulations cap all secondary dwellings at 60m2, so we need to stay within this limit (unfortunately).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a full-home living experience out of your granny flat. All it takes is some smart storage hacks and consolidation work. Here are 4 design tips collaborated from our expert partners, proud clients, and granny flat fanatics to help you out. You can use these whether you’re designing from scratch or have an existing granny flat.


Choose A Granny Flat Design With Large Windows

Granny Flat Designed with large vertical windows

Granted, larger windows won’t technically increase space in your granny flat, but perception is stronger than objection here. Natural light sources have been used for decades to invite attention to key features of your home and illuminate crowded or neglected areas. This gives you a much larger sense of space, which is probably the most important consideration when designing your granny flat.

Note to really get the most of out of all that natural sunlight you’ll need to use mirrors throughout your interior as well. These go hand-in-hand towards redefining the size of your dwelling.

Large vertical windows offer a strategic view of the outside world. Seeing this not only improves the ambience of your dwelling but also makes you feel closer and more connected to all the open space outside. This goes a long way towards overcoming the legal size limit of your granny flat, which is capped at 60sm2.

Achieving this can be a lot harder than it sounds though. You can’t just go incorporating as many windows as possible. The last thing you want is an entrapping view of cluttered outdoor surroundings, as this just makes you feel even more restricted.

You need to consider the size, transparency, and tactical placement of your windows, as well as the exact location of your granny flat relative to the natural flow of sunlight.

This is where professional granny flat designers can make a huge difference.  If you’re stumped for ideas or need some inspiration, then check out our gallery or see one of our open displays in NSW. These will give you a good indication of how to make the most of strategic window placement. If you need something specific due to abnormal block size or tenant requirements, RESCON can also custom-design a granny flat just the way you like it.

Windows aren’t nearly as effective without the correct placement of mirrors though. Reflection has more use than just admiring one’s beauty or taking clever snapshots (no judgement here). Used in conjunction with natural lighting, mirrors will reflect natural light and colours towards isolated parts of your granny flat.

Having too many dark, uninviting spots around your home (especially corners) will make you feel confined to a smaller space. So make use of mirrors around different parts of your granny flat to see what works best. Even small mirrors tucked away in hard-to-reach places can do an amazing job at producing extra light or reflecting an adjacent open space.

Think beyond just the bathroom and bedroom though. We find mirrors actually work best in the kitchen, even as a splash-back feature, to counter all the clutter caused by bulky appliances.

Accessorize your Kitchen

Granny Flat Design with Return Bench Top

This is the best place to start if you’re looking for easy ways to maximize space in your granny flat design. Kitchens are always crowded with bulky appliances which take up a frustrating amount of room. But removing them isn’t really an option; it wouldn’t be a kitchen without a fridge, cook-top, or storage cabinets.

You’ll also often find way too many little things cluttering up kitchen space, such as salt-and-pepper shakers, condiment jars, and over-sized utensils. Thankfully there are plenty of things you can do to save space here.

Start with the little things; we’ve all got a stockpile of herbs and spices we like to use. If you’re going for authentic foreign cuisine, you’ll need a dozen or so different flavours on hand (and let’s face it, you can never really have too much pepper and basil on your steak).

Unfortunately, traditional spice dispensers are almost impossible to store efficiently. They can’t be stacked or neatly tucked into corners, so you’re often left lining them up individually. You’d be surprised at how much precious cabinet space this takes up.

But stockpiling your kitchen with succulent flavours needn’t be a sacrifice if you’re living in a granny flat. A simple spice rack is a perfect solution for hanging multiple vials with a minimal footprint, plus they’re a stylish fashion icon for your kitchen. You really can’t go wrong with a few of these, especially if you plan on doing a lot of home cooking.

You can also get creative with your storage spaces. Consider installing overhead cabinets in your kitchen. These let you store bulky items where you’ll often need them most, without crowding your floor space. If you’re building a new granny flat from scratch, you’ll need to ask your builder if these are included or whether you’ll need to add them yourself. Overhead kitchen storage is a standard inclusion with RESCON Builders, but every supplier is different so make sure you do your research.

Consider if you really need a standalone dining table as well. Returning kitchen benches (pictured above) can double-up as a dining table and bench-top in one, Sure they’re a nice touch, but dining tables by far one of the biggest causes of clutter when you start to get short on space in your cozy granny flat. Our clients are often amazed at how much space they gain from incorporating a returning kitchen bench. These are available as another optional add-on in all of RESCON’s granny flat designs.

Use Hooks & Wall Mounts

Wall-mounted shelf that can be incorporated into any granny flat design

Hooks and wall-mounts are a textbook example of utilizing vertical space in your dwelling. They can easily be incorporated into any granny flat design, since most walls are usually left unoccupied anyway. These crafty accessories can be installed almost anywhere but are most common at the entrance of a granny flat, in the kitchen, and even the shower. However, there’s no reason you can’t have them in your bedroom or anywhere else.  They give you the same benefits as a traditional bookshelf or bench-top without taking up valuable floor space.

Don’t limit yourself in what you store on them though. Hooks and wall mounted shelves can be used to hang almost any household item from cups, pots and pans, towels, tea and coffee, toiletries, and even clothing. Anywhere you need easy access to items, you should think about installing one. As an added bonus they also make it a lot easier to move things around and find what you’re looking for.


Consolidate Your Entertainment Appliances

Wall Mounted TV in granny flat

This one isn’t for everyone, but if you’re big on entertainment then there’s no reason you can’t incorporate a mini home-theatre into your granny flat design. This actually frees up a lot of space and reduces that eye-sore of cluttered appliances taking up limited floor space.

If you’re planning on renting out, a smartly consolidated entertainment system is also a great way to attract more tenants. Even if you just want the basics such as a standard TV and DVD – there are still ways you can reduce the amount of living space they take up.

First thing’s first; get a smart TV (it’s 2018!). You can get one for almost any budget, and they come with all sorts of media add-ons like in-built DVD players, streaming support, and popular apps such as Netflix and Foxtel. This saves you from having to connect separate receivers and peripherals for each. Stand-alone DVD players and media receivers take up an absurd amount of space, and all the cabling required to run them is just a trip hazard. If you really must hang any separate consoles (such as gaming devices or paid-TV receivers), then purchase a wall-mount with hanging shelves (pictured above).

It goes without saying that your TV should be mounted on the wall too. Smart TV’s are made super-thin and come with wall-mounts included for this very purpose. Resting them on a floor-bound cabinet or stand is a huge waste of space. This is probably the biggest mistake people make when living in a granny flat.

TV wall-mounts also let you adjust the viewing angle and protects them from accidental damage too. This can’t be stressed enough; use them!

Key Takeaways

Remember that this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. We often find people using all sorts of clever (and strange) ways to save on space in their granny flat. Consider spending some time to think of any new methods (and feel free to share them around).

The simple trick is to find ways to free up valuable floor space (you’ll need that for walking!) and utilize any unused vertical space instead. An easy way to do this is to think of your entire granny flat as a canvas. Stand at your front door and make a note of any large empty spaces you see (especially on your walls and even the ceilings). Then think of ways you can utilize these empty spaces without anything touching the ground.  You’ll be surprised at what you can come up with.

If you’re still having trouble channeling your inner designer instincts, then don’t forget to take a loot at one of RESCON’s pre-existing granny flat designs or talk to us about your custom ideas.