Over history, shotgun homes have gone in and out of fashion. Now that people are downgrading to save space and expenses, having a shotgun house is a practical solution. A shotgun house has a long, narrow, rectangular layout in which each room leads to the next. It is named that way out of the theory that if a shotgun were shot from the front door, the bullet would exit straight to the back door.
Shotgun houses were brought to the United States – in New Orleans, specifically – during the 18th and 19th century by islanders from Haiti and West Indies in Africa. From New Orleans, the style spread northward and as far away to Chicago, Texas, Ybor City, and Key West, Florida. The shotgun style was the most popular style in the southern cities during the end of the American Civil War throughout the 1920s. They are also called shotgun shack, shotgun cottage or shotgun hut. The shotgun house was a great solution for homeowners with narrow but elongated lots, and helped them acquire proper ventilation.
If you own a shotgun house, you may have probably encountered problems with decorating it because of its challenging layout. Here are some tricks and ideas to help you with that:
1. Scale your home
A classic shotgun house floor plan consists of a row of three to four square rooms with no hallways, with a door for each room lined up, starting from the front door to the back door. The bathroom is typically placed somewhere in the middle, in the back of the house next to the kitchen. The dining room and bedroom are located in the middle rooms. If you’re just redecorating or planning to renovate your house, always measure each room with consideration to the location of your doors, entryways and windows. Then, measure the furniture or fixtures you are planning to add and make sure that they will fit, that they a place where they will fit, and that they are in proportion to the size of your space.
2. Choose smaller and more compact furniture
A shotgun house is typically small and gives you limited space to decorate, but it doesn’t have to stop you from having a beautiful and relaxing home. You just need to pick items that are practical enough to fit in your home. Choose a white square ceramic sink for your kitchen so it won’t take up a lot of countertop space. Get a streamlined and modern version of a cabinet rather than a heavily ornamented one. Pick a smaller version of a leather recliner instead of an overstuffed one. Place a queen- or full-sized bed in your bedroom because a California king-size one is too large.
3. Create a sense of openness
The doors that lead to every room blocks the sightline and even takes up valuable floor space, so why not remove even just a door and a wall to make a casual and open space? The door and wall that separates the kitchen and dining area can be removed so make the space look bigger. The sense of openness can also be created through your furniture and accessory choices. Items with exposed legs to give the illusion of more floor space. Use glass-top coffee tables or end tables, or even use glass side chairs. Before displaying a decorative item, evaluate if it really adds beauty or if it just adds clutter.
4. Arrange furniture asymmetrically
Long, narrow rooms may look awkward, but it can be balanced by arranging your furniture asymmetrically. A large piece or your main piece of furniture in a room must be paired with two to three smaller pieces of furniture. Here are some examples:
- Living room – Pair a large entertainment center with a love seat and a chair, or two club chairs. Or use a modern L-shaped sofa, with the longer section placed opposite the television or a fireplace.
- Bedroom – Place the bed in a corner to give more room for a wardrobe and a vanity cabinet.
- Kitchen – Use an L-shaped kitchen or a galley-style kitchen, then place an island or a small table in the center for food preparation, storage and even dining.
5. Choose a pale color palette
Make your small rooms appear larger by using a pale color palette. Warm whites are the best wall color of choice for small rooms because it brightens up the space and makes up the most of natural light. You should also use white paint on the ceiling to make it look even taller. If you have a high ceiling, enhance it by using tone-on-tone hues on the walls, trim and ceiling. Besides white, you can use pale grays and light pastel shades on your walls.
6. Add some texture
Texture helps create an illusion of depth and space to your home and breaks out the monotony of the already cramped area. Use a textured wallpaper or textured wall treatments like plaster, stone or wood paneling. Picking an accent all for this treatment would add character as well as a focal point to your room. Add woven fabrics as throws for your couch and dining chairs.
7. Create common areas
Make the most out of your space by creating common areas by strategic placement of furniture. For instance, you can make your living room serve as a home office or dining area as well, but placing a small desk directly behind your couch or by placing table and chairs behind a sofa. In the kitchen, you may use a kitchen island with sink and allot a space for dining with bar stools to create a multi-functional space.
8. Bring in more natural light
Since you have a narrow space, let in as much natural light as possible to make the interiors look spacious and airy. Avoid hanging heavy draperies or dark blinds or shades on your windows. Use décor that reflects light, so include mirrors, metallic pieces of furniture and high-gloss wood floors.
9. Pick the right materials
Create continuity within your entire home by using the same flooring. A narrow home is not the place to pick different materials for the floor – it simply limits your space visually. Open space shelving and cabinetry also helps increase the sense of space.
10. Opt for recessed lighting
A compact space can look bigger with the proper lighting choices. Recessed lighting for the kitchen would work, since it takes up little space and doesn’t demand your attention – instead, it highlights focal points.