Feeling cramped in your current home? You’re not alone. Many homeowners find themselves wishing for more room as their families grow or they simply accumulate more stuff over the years. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to move or undertake a major (and crazy expensive) addition to get more elbow room. There are plenty of ways to creatively carve out home improvement projects to expand living space. All it takes is a little imagination and DIY spirit.
From converting wasted attic or basement space to knocking down walls and building additions, this guide covers home improvement projects, both big and small, to expand your living area. Follow these tips and soon you’ll be living large without the huge price tag!
Maximize Every Nook and Cranny
Don’t ignore those awkward, underutilized spaces! You can transform wasted areas like under the stairs or at the back of a closet into functional storage with some simple carpentry. Build customized shelving, cabinetry and cubbies to organize items and free up space in other rooms neatly. Install sliding barn doors on closets to gain a few more inches. Repurpose the area under a window seat or bathtub into drawer storage. There are so many unused spots just waiting for a makeover. Get creative and use every inch available!
Convert the Attic or Basement
Got an attic or basement just being used for storage? Convert it into a livable room! Refinishing the attic can add a bedroom, home office or playroom without altering the home’s footprint. Make sure to evaluate if the space can be properly insulated and heated/cooled. Install adequate lighting, flooring and windows to make the space inviting. Turning a dingy basement into comfortable living quarters opens up even more potential. If moisture or drainage is an issue, install a drainage system before covering the floors. Then, add amenities like a kitchenette, bathroom and closet space to create a private oasis.
Build Onto the House
For major square footage, an addition is the way to go. Building onto the rear, side, or top of your home can give you another bedroom, a family room, an expanded kitchen, and more. But this is a major undertaking requiring proper engineering, foundation work, roofing, and siding to blend with the existing structure. Whether doing it yourself or hiring a contractor, be prepared for this to be one of the most expensive home improvement projects. Carefully consider the layout and how the addition will function with your current rooms before breaking ground. All the hassles and costs will be worth it in the end for space that truly feels like part of the original home.
Take Down Walls and Rethink Layouts
Looking to open up interior spaces without expanding the external structure? Taking down walls is an impactful change that can make rooms feel drastically bigger. Creating an open-concept first floor by removing walls between the kitchen, dining, and living rooms brings the family together. Just be sure the walls are not load bearing before you knock them out! You can also reconfigure room layouts, like rotating the kitchen 90 degrees or transferring closet space from one bedroom to another. Removing interior doors can also make spaces feel more connected. These types of structural changes allow you to repurpose areas for how you truly live without adding on.
Let In More Natural Light
Dark gloomy rooms instantly feel smaller and more cramped. The best way to visually expand a space is by letting in more natural light. Switch out heavy drapes for airy sheers and add extra windows or skylights where possible. Cut a window opening in a wall that connects two rooms to allow light to pass through. Swap out old opaque window panes for modern energy efficient ones that maximize clarity. Paint the walls a soft neutral or cheerful color to reflect light. Your rooms will instantly feel sunnier, brighter, and more spacious!
Build a Backyard Oasis
Don’t forget about leveraging your outdoor space when looking to expand living quarters. Constructing an enclosed patio with heat and electricity extends your functional area for more months of the year. Turn the space into an outdoor family room, dining area, kitchen, or office. Install blinds or curtains to block sun and wind when needed. Extend your backyard fun into the night by adding lighting and a fire pit area. Landscaping with trees, shrubs, and plants also creates “outdoor rooms” dedicated to playing, entertaining, or just relaxing in peace. And nothing expands a small indoor bathroom like adding a spacious walk-in shower or soaking tub onto the patio.
Max Out the Garage
Tired of packing vehicles into a cluttered garage while household overflow piles up in the basement? Rethink the garage as a livable space. Clean it out and add amenities like finished walls/ceilings, storage solutions, and even climate control. Use it as a man cave, shed, workshop, art studio, or hangout spot. Install cabinets and a sink for gardening and potting plants. Make room for a comfy sitting area or table for hobbies. The tidy, organized garage can double as party space that won’t fill up your home with guests. Use it to indulge your creative side or finally get started on those home improvement projects!
Incorporate Multipurpose Furniture
Even after maximizing every inch, some homes still need a few space-saving solutions. Enter multipurpose furniture that serves more than one function. Murphy beds quickly convert a room between sleeping and living space. Table leaves, corner benches with storage, and nesting tables expand for the company and collapse when not in use. Look for coffee tables with lift-tops to reveal hidden storage. Cabinetry on casters or pocket doors makes it easy to conceal a home office. With creative furnishings that transform or do double duty, suddenly each room gains extra breathing room.
The possibilities are truly endless when looking to expand your space. Focus on renovating wasted nooks, refreshing dingy rooms with light, and repurposing your home’s layout. For major square footage, building out or up may be the answer. But often, it realizes the hidden potential within existing walls. With clever thinking outside the big box, you can carve out more usable rooms without the huge expense and hassle of moving. Soon, you’ll be living in a home that finally fits your family’s needs.
Q: What are some good small home improvement projects to gain more space?
A: Great small projects include custom built-in storage, converting underutilized areas like stairs or window seats into storage, maximizing closet space with new racks/shelving, and installing space-saving multipurpose furniture.
Q: How much does it typically cost to finish an attic or basement?
A: The cost to refinish an attic into livable space averages $50-$100 per sq ft while a basement remodel runs $25-$50 per sq ft on average. The wide range accounts for factors like layout, permitting, HVAC, plumbing, etc.
Q: What kind of professionals should I hire for a home addition?
A: At a minimum, you’ll need an architect or designer, general contractor, structural engineer, and specialists for electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems. For large additions, a project manager is also recommended.
Q: How do I know if a wall in my home is load bearing before removing it?
A: Consult a structural engineer, architect, or experienced contractor to evaluate the wall. In general, walls with beams, posts, or joists likely bear weight. Walls parallel to floor joists typically are not.
Q: What are good ways to maximize natural light in a room?
A: Great options include swapping drapes for sheers, adding skylights or more windows, installing light tubes to transfer daylight from the roof to the interior, replacing solid doors with ones that have glass panes, and painting interiors with light airy colors that reflect light.