Do you feel like you need more space at home? You could follow the advice in a Yiddish folktale – bring in all your farm animals, try living with them, then let them out again. Suddenly your home feels quite sufficient in size.
A better approach is to look at how you use your home and you might find the space is there, just not being used properly.
Pay attention to how you use your home
The first step for anyone who is planning a renovation of their home is to work out what aspects of the layout work and what doesn’t. By identifying why your house isn’t functioning you will have a clearer idea of where to focus your attention and more importantly your budget.
So often I see houses where the owners felt they needed more space, and without really trying to figure out why the house wasn’t working, built a large extension, which instead of solving the problem compromised the existing house.
We’ve actually had clients with this very dilemma and by analysing how they used their home and looking at the reasons things weren’t working we were able to make slight adjustments to the layout and solve their problems without building anything.
We’ve created a workbook to hepl you track a typical week in your home and help you identify what is and isn’t working. You can download a copy here.
Look for wasted space
Even though you feel that you need more space you may be surprised by the amount of wasted or underused space in your home. Unused rooms; long corridors, hallways that are too big for the house; over-sized bedrooms and bathrooms, are all areas that could be reworked to create more space in your home.
If your kitchen isn’t big enough but you have a very large dining room, steal some space from the dining room to create a larger kitchen, or if you never use the dining room knock the wall down completely to create an open plan kitchen diner. What you will be achieving by looking at your home in this way will be a much more efficient use of space.
Don’t be afraid to break a few rules
The important thing to remember, though, is that you don’t have to follow convention here. Your home needs to be efficient for you, so it really important to look at what your specific needs are and adapt the spaces and make changes that will make your life better.
We had clients recently who had a long galley kitchen that backed on to their sitting room, off of which there was a very small playroom which was rarely used. Because the kitchen was so small there was only space for one person to be in there at any time and the clients spent most time in the sitting room.
The couple had two small children and both of them worked, so time together was precious. The old layout really didn’t work as the children could not be in the kitchen when their parents were cooking – so it meant one person had to cook while the other sat with the children. The obvious decision was to take down the wall between the kitchen and sitting room creating a more open plan kitchen-dining-seating space where the children could play while mum or dad cooked.
We then moved the non-structural wall between the small playroom to make the front room larger, giving them a good-sized sitting room. And we made the decision to close it off from the kitchen to future-proof the house – open plan is fine while children are small but as they get bigger there is a much greater need for everyone to have some privacy. Without adding any floor area the layout became extremely efficient as every square meter was now being used.