When changes occur in our lives, we often accommodate for them with changes to our living space as well. New baby? You may be converting your spare bedroom to a nursery. New fantastic career opportunity came your way? You may now need space designated as a home office. But what if you don’t have a guest bedroom? What if the ‘stuff’ in your life just keeps accumulating, and you feel you are starting to outgrow your home? I guess common sense would tell you to sell, and move up the property ladder with a bigger and ‘better’ house purchase… or would it?
So many times in the past I’ve been approached by families looking to sell because they desperately need a space that works for their changing lifestyle, but who are stressed because financially, they simply don’t have the means to afford the type of home they envision for themselves. For many, picking up and moving to ‘bigger’ isn’t always the answer.
The first step in the process is really taking an analytical look at the way you are using your home NOW. Quite often, the needs of your changing lifestyle can be obtained with just a little bit of thinking outside the box. Go through your home with a fine toothed comb. Look at furniture, decorative items, household appliances, books, clothing, EVERYTHING you come across and ask yourself “Have I used this in the past year, and if so, how many times”? Any items that don’t get used should probably go to storage, be donated, sold, or garbaged depending on the condition)… Sure you may have been wanting to take up running or walking, but that treadmill in the corner hasn’t been touched in half a decade. Wouldn’t a nice new pair of sneakers be just as effective and take up less space? These are the kinds of things I’m talking about.
Also think about how you use each room. Many older homes have both formal and casual living spaces, for example, a ‘family room’ and a ‘living room’, or a ‘eat-in kitchen’ and a ‘formal dining room’. Do you host a lot of fancy dinner parties, or does the dining room table look more like an oversized junk drawer with everything piled up and impossible to find? Switching up these spaces can be the most effective way of gaining space you so desperately need. Transforming the dining room into a home office, complete with lots of storage and an area for kids to do their homework, can be done easily and inexpensively. Instead of taking up a whole bedroom for the occasional guest that might spend the night, consider using a murphy bed or pullout sofa in your family room or basement rec room instead.
Speaking of murphy beds and sofas, its essential to select the right furniture for your space. Where possible, go with furniture that does double duty by also providing storage solutions. If you are a small family of only 3 that doesn’t do much entertaining, do you really need a sectional sofa that seats 8? The positioning of furniture in any given room can also have a huge affect on the amount of ‘space’ you have. The back of a sofa or strategically placed chairs and end tables can do wonders for dividing up a room and creating defined separate spaces.
Whether you are feeling a crunch for space due to your changing lifestyle needs or not, I cannot stress enough the importance of completing an annual audit of your home. In addition to looking at each room with the objective to freeing up space, it is crucial to look at the state of repair of each room and the structural soundness of your property. Items like roofs, windows, eaves, basement moisture, and pest damage are all things that need to be inspected (and NOT just if you are thinking of selling). Further, auditing your expenses and how much it truly costs you to own the home in terms of utilities, property taxes, and other costs beyond your mortgage payments can be a real eye opener. Has your house become a cash cow, or are you able to easily manage the cost of living in your home? Maybe it’s time to appeal your tax assessment, retrofit for energy efficiency, or complete other small renovations that can add major value and improve your home life, like a main floor bathroom or parking space. Let’s take a closer look at that next week!
For now, just remember that these are all things that a professional and dependable Realtor can help you with. Not all of us are out there just looking for the next sale… If you need a hand with assessing how your current home works for you, without any added sales pressure, give me a call. I’d love to help and offer any advice you may need! Also, if you have any space saving tips or suggestions for using rooms in your home creatively, I invite you to share in the discussion by commenting below! I'm always grateful for your feedback!