Lately, I’ve been experimenting with designing in smaller spaces. It’s got a lot to do with the fact that I’ve been obsessively watching the HGXIV podcast in all my free time; even though a lot of the time they start with large homes, they always end up creating cozy rooms in a fraction of the space.
I always find it interesting, though, because of how different it is when you actually start with a small space. So today, I wanted to share a few of my tips for designing in smaller spaces in FFXIV!
Mind your item count.
One of the more subtle points of housing in FFXIV is that as you increase the size of your home, so too does your maximum item count increase. For example, in an apartment, you can place up to 100 furnishings; in a large house, you can place up to 400.
That’s why a lot of designers like to use large-sized homes, even for smaller builds.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a smaller space beautiful! It’s just about minding what furnishings you use and where. For example, my FC room build only uses 87 items. Know your limit, plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to rejig things if you need to save slots somewhere.
Don’t feel constrained to existing floor plans.
I’ll admit, this one took me a long while to get used to. I find it’s especially bad in small and medium homes; it’s really easy to feel like you have to build the existing floor plan, or it just won’t work. Mediums especially can be problematic because of the placement of their stairs!
But just because your house is built a certain way doesn’t mean you need to build it a certain way.
For example, one of my favourite space-saving tricks in mediums is to build rooms over the basement stairs instead of just covering them with walls. I also love building windows and secret doors over the basement door in smalls.
Build for open space.
When I first started building in FFXIV, I consistently committed what I now consider to be a cardinal sin. I felt like I had to fill as much space as possible for the house to feel properly designed.
I’ve always been pretty bad for that in real life, too, but I’m getting better!
Now, I like to find ways to use open space. Especially in small areas, it can feel kind of cramped if you have too much division between areas like walls and lofts, and they can seriously mess with your camera too.
Keep in mind that open space doesn’t just mean open floor space, either! Open vertical space can be just as nice.
Find ways to create definition.
When you’re working with open floor plans especially, it can be tricky to know how to split up different spaces without walls. At least, that’s one of my biggest struggles, even in real life!
One of my favourite tricks, though, is actually one I picked up from home design shows and practiced while building in other games like the Sims. Essentially, instead of relying on walls or even dividers to split spaces up, you use the furniture to do it instead.
I remember thinking at first that it was easier said than done, but it clicked when I started to see how people were using kitchen islands and couches out in the open to divide up rooms.
Another trick I like, especially with small spaces where you want to fit a lot of rooms, is to use rugs and even the flooring mats to create different flooring looks in different spaces.
Use levels wherever you can.
This is something that I’m still working on mastering myself. If you start to get heavily involved in FFXIV’s design subculture at all, you’ll notice right away that many pro designers use levels to create a lot of visual interest in a small area.
It can be a little more limiting to do that in an apartment or small house compared to a large house, especially when you’re floating furniture. You’ll usually need to float it higher than you’d think to get it to stay!
I think that was one of the biggest frustrations I faced at first, because well, I started by working from source material, and didn’t realize that a lot of small builds are in large houses and start off already floating, so the relative difference between levels is much smaller.
But yes, anyway. It’s still incredibly rewarding, and can make small spaces feel much, much bigger.
Have any tips for people working on builds in small spaces? Share them in the comments below!