10 Ways to Find or Add More Space to Your Home
We all want more space, better space, more beautiful space and best-value space – but what are the best ways to find it?
In-up-out-down: this is my mantra when it comes to adding space to a home.
In general terms, in-up-out-down is the sequence of cost-effectiveness when it comes to finding the additional space you need. ‘In’ is the space you already have, ‘up’ might be a loft conversion, ‘out’ could be an extension, and ‘down’ would be a basement. So number one on the list of most cost-effective ways to find what you are looking for is inside what you already have.
It’s extraordinary how often it is possible – by remodelling and rearranging spaces, and making best use of the square feet taken up with corridors, hallways, under-stairs areas and landings – to find tremendous additional space and transform a home with very little building work.
Second in line, and often the most cost-effective way to add significant amounts of additional space, is to go up.
The most common and popular way to do this is with a loft conversion. Lofts can be very budget-friendly because there are no ground works or foundations to worry about and there is often the possibility, without any need for a planning application, to add a whole new floor to a house.
Loft conversions, and loft extensions (when combined with a dormer roof extension) are particularly appropriate for adding bedrooms and bathrooms, but are also very popular for a home-based office.
An extension to the rear or side (or both) of your property is next in line on my list of cost-effectiveness.
While the need for new foundations will often make this a more expensive option than a loft conversion, if the additional space you need is on the ground floor – such as for a larger kitchen or living area – then an extension might be the best choice.
It’s really important when designing an extension to think about the layout of the whole floorplan, not just of the extension. All too often, a box is added to the rear of a property and the effect on the existing rooms is not taken into account, often creating a gloomy middle area, far from any windows – so always look for ways that your extension can open up existing spaces as well.
Learn 10 ways to bring more daylight into your home.
While adding space with a basement is generally speaking the least cost-effective option in terms of price per square foot, that doesn’t mean it’s always poor value. In many cases, all other options have been exhausted or are not feasible, and where property values are high enough, a basement extension can add tremendous value to a home.
The key is often to really think through how the additional space is going to be used. If what you want is a home cinema or a gym and sauna, then lots of daylight might not be a requirement, but if the space is wanted for a kitchen, living space or bedroom, the art is often to design it so the space feels as un-basement-like as possible.
My starting point with any project where space is at a premium is to get a floorplan down on paper. When exploring how different spaces can work together, how the circulation will work, what the views across and between the spaces might be and how the daylight might flow, a floorplan is hugely helpful.
By creating a scaled floorplan of the existing footprint and then laying tracing paper over the top to sketch possibilities, you can really start to discover all the different options and assess which are the most promising.
One little aside is that estate agent’s floorplans can be a helpful guide, but they are often less than accurate and sometimes can be terribly misleading. Ideally (and always before building anything) invest in a proper set of accurate drawings, prepared by a land surveyor.
As the most cost-effective place to find more space is within the home you have, a good starting point is to try to identify those spaces within your home that are not working hard enough and those that are under-used.
Common areas that don’t make best use of space are corridors, hallways, conservatories, landings and under-stairs areas, but you should also consider whether all of your rooms are the optimum size. If you have, say, a larger than necessary living room and a tiny dining room, you might combine the two so as to get the best amount of space for both.
Under-used spaces tend to be lofts, attached garages that have become little more than junk stores, and garden sheds or outbuildings that could be upgraded or converted.
One phrase I’ve heard too many times is: “Oh I couldn’t move that wall, it’s load-bearing and would cost a fortune.”
The cost implications of removing any wall in a house, load-bearing or otherwise, are most often in the moving of services (radiators, power points and light switches) and the making good of floors, walls and ceiling, plastering and redecoration. The fact that a structural wall might also need a piece of steel is often only a fairly marginal difference.
So free up your thinking, consider any wall as fair game and if it makes for better space, it will more often than not be well worth it.
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A friend’s favourite saying is “Perception is reality” (interestingly, he works for a bank), and in that spirit, it’s important to recognise that residential space is as much about a perception of space as it is about numbers of square feet.
Daylight can be the most wonderful magnifier of domestic space. Fill a gloomy room with daylight and it will often feel twice the size.
Think also about where the daylight is coming from. The higher the angle the light is coming in from, the more intense it tends to be, so roof windows and windows that reach right up to the ceiling tend to be great devices for flooding your home with magnified daylight.
Whether I’m designing a new-build house, an extension or simply the remodelling of an interior, I am always thinking about the interior spaces, how they work together and, importantly, what the occupant’s view will be from various positions within the space.
A very effective technique is to look for ‘layered’ views with depth. What I mean by this is views where the occupant is looking from one space, across or through one or more other spaces (they might be different zones within an open-plan area, or through sets of doors or openings) to a destination, often a garden or outdoor courtyard.
Finding such layered views will not only create an uplifting and inspiring sense in the interior, but will also enhance the sense of space.
A great technique that not only will enhance the perception of space, but will actually give more physical space within your home is called ‘overlapping zones’.
In this small terraced house, there were previously three separate small rooms on the ground floor: a living room, a dining room and a tiny kitchen. By removing the separating walls and installing a funky, lightweight staircase, it was possible to create layered views and bring daylight flooding into the depth of this long, narrow house.
However, we went further with this one, deliberately overlapping the different zones of kitchen, dining and living. The kitchen reaches right through into the middle of the house beyond where its containing wall used to be, making for a large and generous space. However, the dining area is opened up, too, and also has more space to play with, as does the living room. So we created three physically larger rooms with no square feet added.
How have you created more space in your home (or where do you need more space…)? Tell all and share your photos in the Comments.