Where do you suppose the most wasted space in your home is? Probably from about 4' up the wall and higher. No, really. Look around your room right now. I'll bet that furniture goes about 4' up the wall and then maybe there's some pictures above that. But if you look around that same room, you've probably got bits and bobs and some mess on the floor. Consider a child's bedroom. Taking up floor space is a bed, dresser, closet, and numerous toys on the floor including LEGO that you will step on at 2am during a bed check.
Perhaps the most obvious way to go up is with cabinets or shelving. Your kitchen should be a natural example of this. Why do we not do this in other rooms of the house? The dining room is a perfect place to install a small bank of floor cabinets with some wall cabinets above. Add some tile, trim and glass doors. Congratulations, you just installed a buffet. The family room or great room or media room or whatever you want to call it is another place where a tall wardrobe, or open cabinets or shelves might free up some floor space. Toys go low, media goes in the middle, decor and display goes high, extra pillows or blankets can be stashed behind solid doors.
Or what about a kids room? Captain's beds have a bed over desk combo that can save floor space by elevating. Bunk beds are another great option for rooms with more than one kid. You may run into some arguing over who gets to be on top. But what if you have 9' or greater or sloped ceilings? This is a great opportunity to try out a technique that we've drawn but not yet implemented. First, the closet (including walls) needs to be have a footprint of at least 40"x78". Build it with a ceiling about 78" tall. You're not going to use much space above the clothes rod anyway. Next, build a rail around the top and install a ladder to climb up. There should be enough room for a twin size mattress to fit up there. * May not be suitable for younger children or anyone subject to random tripping. If you're quite crafty you could work a dresser into one side of the closet without encroaching too much into the rod space.
Or consider a reverse captain's bed layout. Enclose a space about 78"x60" or more and about 4' tall. In this space goes a bed and basic nighttime necessities. Call it the cave. Above this remains a platform large enough for a desk, dressing area, LEGO layout, or mini Pro Wrestling ring.
Could this be affected in a master bedroom as well? Sure, why not! Most master bedrooms are laid out with an idea to be conservative, elegant, and grown-up. But who says grown-ups can't have fun? Elevate that bed with a walk-in closet below! Or enclose the bed and include a home office above. Oh sure it won't be for everyone. There'll be complaints of, "how do I change the sheets without falling or knocking my head?" You just do. Or you choose a more normal layout. But for those with stars in their eyes, go for it!
This post was inspired by a house we worked on with 13' ceilings. It's not our plan, we were just pitching in with a friend's overload of drafting. If you consider 6'-4" of head height with perhaps a 2x8 floor in the middle you reach 13'-4". While it's not possible to get two legal stories in that space, it is possible to create a small loft in one side or corner and double up the floor space.
Istockhouseplans will be exploring this concept for some future small house plans. If you currently are using vertical space in your house or apartment, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.