In today’s economy, McMansions and giant luxury homes are being replaced by simpler, more frugal alternatives. With one in ten Americans unable to make mortgage payments, many of today’s homeowners are deciding the inflated cost of large living isn’t worth it. Trading down, advocates of the Small House Movement believe in walking the talk of environmental consciousness: swapping 3000-square-foot homes for places more along the lines of 84 square feet in some cases.

The benefits of a smaller house are, well, anything but small: less to pay to build, less to heat/cool, less to spend time fixing up and improving. All these reduced costs buy homeowners big benefits: more money and more time, two things everyone seems to need more of these days.

So what about you? Whether your home spans 100 or 1,200 feet and no matter what your reasons for a smaller place, you’ll want to decorate it. And when decorating a little residence, there are key steps you can take to maximize the space. Consider these:

1. Architecture: One of the best design tips for a small home goes back to the way it was created. Built-ins help ensure no wasted space, and an open, easy-flow layout creates a larger feel where rooms can open into one another.
2. Color: Choose light paint colors—whites, creams, soft beiges—to enlarge the feel of your space. Basic Color 101 says light colors make a room seem bigger, while dark colors will make it feel smaller.
3. Defined Spaces: Think about the studio apartment you had, fresh out of college. It probably had one large room that functioned as your bedroom, your living room, maybe your dining room. The key to maximizing usefulness is in the way you lay your furniture out. Define the space for your sitting area as being separate from the eating table; this can be done with a patterned rug under the table or maybe by turning the chairs towards each other in the living room.
4. Seamless Flow: Defining your spaces doesn’t minimize the importance of symmetry throughout. Use the same flooring in all the rooms, if possible, and allow lots of sunshine to flow inside.
5. Organization: Even without built-ins, a small home seems instantly larger with smart organization. Eliminate all clutter. Anything that you don’t need goes.

Follow these tips to make your home its most useful, and you’ll barely notice the smaller size. In fact, you might join thewave of homeowners who actually prefer it!