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How to Maximize Use of Small and Multifunctional Spaces

Japan is well known and respected for maximizing the limited space in their comparatively small homes. For us in the U.S., post-war economic living standards changed dramatically. Smaller families meant larger living spaces per square foot and, since the U.S. is blessed with vast amounts of land, suburban expansion meant opportunities to build even larger homes. The Japanese, however, continue to be faced with limited real estate. While post-war prosperity meant economic expansion, it did not necessarily apply to the expansion of square footage.  Thus, the Japanese have remained masterful in designing flexibility in small spaces, versatility, and convenience. This influence is artfully making its way into U.S. homes and the results are stunning.

Small Spaces Grow in Popularity

Today, the efficient, versatile, and convenient use of small space is finding its way into tiny homes, small apartments, recreational vehicles, restaurants, and home offices. Expectations are that the trend will gain an even greater foothold as new homes continue to shrink. 

According to a recent report, Zillow predicts that Baby Boomer homes will continue to shrink and the median square footage of new single-family homes will fall for the fourth time in five years. The average U.S. home has lost more than 80 square feet in approximately five years. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also reported that the average footage for new single-family homes fell to 2,464 square feet from more than 2,700 square feet in 2015. It seems that millennials will continue to push for smaller homes than seen in previous generations.

Not only will the rooms become fewer and smaller, but space will also need to be maximized. Few know how to do it like Japan-based Sugatsune.

Store, Reach, Access, and Maximize with Sugatsune

Sugatsune’s small-space design expertise includes space-saving elements such as eliminating the need for swing-out doors and cabinetry and adding lift systems that move items and closures out of the way. Sliding and folding door hardware, unique door systems, shelving, and unique lift systems are all used to create more useable space for people. Shelving system examples include the Sugatsune EB-303/EP-D folding bracket with damper featuring a heavy-duty, multipurpose noncorrosive stainless steel bracket designed for use in outdoor kitchens and in food service equipment. The highly durable shelf locks automatically when the flap is opened and folds by pressing a lever to create more space when not in use. And as an added benefit, hinges are not required.

Another example is the Sugatsune VT-DS level adjustable shelving system featuring a slotted system for flexible layout. Shelves are easily installed anywhere in the slot. Wall panel sizes measure 20-mm thick, with a maximum width of 1,820 mm and height of 105 to 450 mm. The system features shelf brackets for wood or glass and is level adjustable.

Small spaces often make cabinet access difficult. For example, in an RV there are often full-size kitchen cabinets that swing open only to hit the opposite side of a small aisle. The Sugatsune LIN-X800 Lateral Opening Door System allows the door to swing out laterally in a small radius and is 4-way adjustable: vertical, horizontal, depth, and parallel. Built-in dampers allow for a smooth soft close. The LIN-X800 is ideal for closet entryways, large pantry doors, storage, linen closets, walk-in closets, hidden rooms, and even on L-shaped corner spaces.

On a large scale, the Sugatsune FD30-F Folding Door System is used for closets with fixed pivot or sliding options. They feature easy to install and adjust snap-in brackets. This system is available in a hardware kit, with a top track, bottom track, and a variety of optional accessories. A comprehensive lineup of premium sliding doors helps separate rooms and provides privacy without requiring additional space to function.

In addition to shelving and door systems for small spaces, Sugatsune just launched its all new Aileron lift system which contains hardware options that can be used on upward-opening cabinet doors or to create convenient storage in top-opening applications for toyboxes or under-seat storage.

The unique OV-EZ Lift-assist mechanism is a system that allows the flap door to retract above the cabinet top when open, resulting in greatly reduced dead space. The OV-EZ overhead lifting cabinet pens upwards and then slides into a pocket above the actual cabinet. For small spaces, they are used as kitchen appliance garages, office furniture manufacturers, and hotel room furniture. 

Another small-space lift system is the easy-to-install Sugatsune Tallman Closet Rod Lift Mechanism used to hang clothes in high places, maximizing closet space. Featuring a shock-absorbing design that softens sudden pop-ups when the rod is released in any position, the lift allows the closet rod to remain in position when pulled down completely. Sizes include single, double, or T-type based on available closet size. The Tallman mechanism is one example of a complete line of closet organization hardware that provides greater out-of-the-way storage.

For restaurant kitchens, RVs and even home office spaces, the Sugatsune AZ-GD multipurpose lid with damper is ideal for guiding rubbish and trash into an interior waste box. The damper design prevents the lid from slamming shut and is integrated with anti-pinching plates. Used vertically, the AZ-GD is corrosion resistant and can be back mounted or incline mounted.

In comparison, the corrosion-resistant Sugatsune AD-GD multipurpose lid (soft close) with damper features a wide opening and has an operating temperature range of 0°C−40°C.

The multi-lids conceal trash/garbage cans and provide more useable space in tight areas. 

Rethink Small-Space Design

Although it may take some time for living spaces in the U.S. to shrink to the same small spaces the Japanese are known for, it makes sense to turn to Sugatsune to find new ideas as unique storage solutions can help to provide more convenience and satisfaction to people. Founded in the 1930s in Tokyo, Sugatsune is well-rooted in the culture of maximizing space. The company is famous for its unique designs, precision engineering and wide range of hardware and systems for both residential and commercial applications. As spaces continue to shrink, Sugatsune will continue to expand its designs to minimize downsizing impact, providing smarter ways of using the spaces we have.