The Art of Living in Small Spaces

How to make the most of a house that isn't huge.

An antique chest becomes a pivot point between the kitchen, staircase, front entry and open living spaces on the first floor. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

Classy Cottage

2,073 square feet

“I like living in a smaller home,” Andy Liverman says of the Ashton Heights cottage he shares with his wife, Cathy. “It’s nice and compact. You can be in your own separate zones, but can easily meet in the middle for meals!”

The empty-nester couple moved to Arlington after selling their tech company and vacating a larger house in Herndon.

Cathy’s preferred hangout is a cozy living area at the front of the house, with its abundant windows, fireplace and built-in bookshelves; Andy is often just steps away in an adjacent family room.


Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

“The house needed a lot of TLC,” says remodeler Michael Winn, who updated the 1925 abode for the Livermans in 2017. “We took it down to its framing before opening up the floor plan. Its footprint is small, so to take full advantage of all the spaces, we gave each space more than one function.”


Fairfax Marble & Granite supplied the Cambria quartz island countertop. Photos by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.


Navy blue is a unifying accent color throughout the house. Benjamin Moore’s “Hale Navy” is a wall color that’s repeated in more than one spot. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

The mudroom, for example, doubles as a laundry room. And while the house has no formal dining room, there are plenty of places to enjoy a meal, whether it’s at the small table tucked into the family room, the bar seats at the kitchen island, or on the back porch in nice weather.

Gutting the original house allowed the couple to allocate more square footage where they needed it and less where they didn’t. They deliberately devoted a little extra wiggle room to the kitchen, which acts as a central hub.

“The new kitchen didn’t need to be large but it needed to multitask,” Winn says. “The island is for food prep and has storage, but it also serves as an eat-in bar for two, or as a place for buffet service for bigger gatherings.”

“We enjoy having less clutter and being more purposeful with our use of space,” Cathy says. “For us, it’s more relaxing and enjoyable.”



Project Credit: Winn Design + Build Falls Church,

Categories: Home & Design