There’s a problem with supply and affordability in today’s housing market. The United Kingdom is getting hit the hardest with this, as net migration (the difference of immigrants and emigrants over a period of time) is rapidly increasing the region’s population. In the next 25 years, the United Kingdom’s population is expected to grow by 9.7 million people.

In the United States, experts predict another housing crisis – not much different from the housing crisis the country experienced in 2008. Like the UK, the United States is experiencing the same issues with supply and affordability. The bigger challenge in the US’s case is housing affordability. The price of housing is outpacing average earnings, creating affordability issues for potential renters and buyers.

With our population’s continued growth and changing real estate landscape, what architects and designers are tasked with is creating solutions to accommodate the rise. Over the past few years, tiny homes have gained huge popularity. Also called “modular homes,” “compact homes” and “micro houses,” these dwellings have become a solution for people who want to live affordably and comfortably.

The average cost to build a tiny home is $23,000 and 68 percent of tiny home owners don’t even have a mortgage. The homes are also ideal for people who are looking to buy, but can’t afford a solid down payment. While there are families that live in these types of homes, the core demographic for tiny houses is millennials. These 20 and 30-somethings are either single or coupled and childless – the perfect traits for someone who wants to take advantage of compact living.

For city dwellers, tiny houses might not be an option, as property is not as readily available or affordable for home owners. People renting or owning in cities like New York or Chicago need to make the most of the space they have. Sometimes that space is a studio apartment where the bedroom is also a makeshift living room, dining room and kitchen.

A growing number of products that bring solutions to compact space are spreading across the market. A small 400 or 500-square-foot apartment can seem much larger thanks to efficient design and products. Some of these products include sliding walls, which can break up a space into different rooms or create more space, depending on how they are used. A key to this functionality is in how these products are stored. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets allow more storage space and everyday items like tables can be torn down, stored or converted into a different use.

Murphy beds are especially useful in the compact space world. When you think about it, we only need our beds for a portion of the 24-hour cycle. During your day, the bed just sits and takes up space that could be used for entertaining, relaxing, working, at-home exercising – there are tons of uses for that space. A Murphy bed makes it possible for a homeowner or tenant to use the bed only when they need to sleep. When the bed is not in use, it just folds into the wall, creating extra space for the rest of the day.

It’s no surprise that compact space solutions have grown in popularity over the years. Our living conditions – especially those in large cities – are becoming more cramped. Space efficiency and innovation are a necessity in our growing world, which is reshaping the way we design, build, and furnish our environments.

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