What can you do to make the most out of your living space?

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Especially with the holidays coming up, we’re all thinking about how we’re going to squeeze a lot of friends and family into our homes.

And while it can be cozy to cram ten people around a five-person table on Thanksgiving, we thought that maybe that kind of situation is better avoided. So, with the help of experts, we’re compiling some great ideas for how to make space when you need it.

Why We’re Asking:

There are a lot of space-saving options out there-Ikea has made an empire out of the idea-but a lot of the time it seems like you’d need to overhaul your whole home to get them to work. Aside from knocking down all four walls, we’re hoping that there are some other options for those with a lot of company in the coming weeks. We’re looking for ways to make space that work with anyone’s style and needs.

So we’re turning to the experts to find some ways to make space. They’ll be weighing in right here in the comments. What does this mean? Homeowners will get the raw, unedited answers directly from the experts. It also gives you, the homeowners, an opportunity to ask the professionals for clarification directly.

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

What can you do to make the most out of your living space?

What are your suggestions for making the most out of a living space?
Are there any flexible options for people when they’re entertaining, or just for homeowners who just want a little more room for themselves?
Whether that means purchasing multi-functional furniture, trying a different layout, or making renovations, what are some ways that you’ve seen or used to homes find more space?

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!

17 COMMENTS

  1. Make the most out of your space by eliminating what you don’t need! Load your car with all the clothes, toys, and extra household items that you don’t use or need anymore and take a trip to Goodwill. You will feel so liberated after you go through and purge plus it will be so much easy to organize when you have less to organize!

  2. The cheapest and easiest way to make more space is to de-clutter. Accent furniture, plants, stacks of books or magazines, and other items take up space in a room, so if you can stash it elsewhere — at least while you have guests — your home will be more spacious. In addition to typical hiding places like garages, attics, and closets, temporarily store items in unused space under beds, behind doors, and on high shelves. Once you’ve freed up the additional space, then you can add extra seating or another table to accommodate your guests.

  3. Greenovate. Its a simple way to make a room look new with little or no expenses.

    Switch art from room to room, moving a painting is a great way to start. Change the lamps, switch accent pillows, find blankets and have them made into throw or floor pillows. Move furniture around.

    If you are feeling industrious try stencils or paint or fabric on walls to change the dynamic of room. A splash of color or a focal wall with a design or unusual pattern can make something look immensely fresh and new.

    Recover or Refurbish old pieces. Take that old bicycle, paint it whimsical colors and mount it on a stairwell or other challenging location and make living art. Paint or cover a table with a “found” piece of granite, marble, concrete from your local recycle store; a desktop can look like leather using Paperstone countertop material.

    Temporarily divide rooms using old doors or windows to allow light but also shut off cold air and retain heat in smaller spaces.

    You are only confined by your lack of imagination and not a budget when finding ways to Greenovate your home.

  4. Here’s one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to make the most out of the space you have: Clear the decks! Literally, get everything off the floor that isn’t furniture.

    Remove stacks of newspapers and magazines, old CD towers, instrument cases… anything small that is taking up floor space that is not a permanent furnishing. Store these small items in your closet, garage or attic or donate any unused odds and ends to a local charity. Instantly, your home will feel more open, airy and elegant.

    While you’re at it, edit your wall art and accessories. Remove any inexpensive looking pieces and leave one wall bare in each room as a resting place for the eye. This will make the room feel bigger, too. Then, for greater impact, gather, group and display any collections all together in one spot – in a china cabinet, on a tray on your cocktail table or on a bureau – to free up other surfaces and make your home feel more spacious and look more cohesive.

    If you want your home to look and feel bigger, whether for you or your guests, these simple solutions don’t cost a penny yet can provide surprisingly dramatic results.

  5. I will take a cheap shot at this by saying installing a Tankless Water Heater on an exterior wall and use the Tank spot for space smart Shelving. However it may not be a cheap shot, so if you have a large gas line and the water Pipes are inside the Building and only need to to poke them out to other side of wall, you are in. No expensive vent needed. Exterior models come with frost protection and all of it is designed to be done that way. Another, if your house has more than one tub, then you could reduce it to a shower and you would have room on either side of that area (Bathroom or other room side) to do shelving etc. Another option is a stackable washer dryer combo that are HET (high Efficiency) and laundry room shelving is there, and you end up using less water, get a rebate and better washed clothes! How about this one, they do make Toilets that are shaped to go into a corner and sometimes they are easy to swing over the pipe and wa-la!. Do you have an unused Bar sink? Rip it out put in a shelving system or an entertainment nook! Sorry, all my ideas are not original, I stole them from my customers over last 35 yrs!

  6. When building homes, we carefully consider floor plans to maximize living space. For example, in one of our floorplans, we include a built-in counter on the outside perimeter of the family room so that there’s more space for residents to use the room however they choose. In rooms like the kitchen, we carefully place islands to allow for a wide walking path so you can easily navigate the kitchen as you cook. You’ll find that most of the rooms in our homes have at least two unobstructed walls for furniture or art placement, which allows you more flexible options for how to set up the room to fit your lifestyle. You’ll find that many of our homes have family rooms and owners suites. That’s because we appreciate that everyone needs their space every once in awhile and it can be useful to have an added retreat inside your home to take care of business or pleasure. When you’re buying a home, make sure the space fits your lifestyle and provides flexibility for you to use the space as you wish.

  7. For my clients I always attempt to think “outside the box” to maximize solutions to their circumstances. In this case, my suggestion to make space inside the home when you need it is to think ‘outside.’ Outdoor living spaces are functional, growing in popularity and offer homeowners an inexpensive way to unwind, and add value to the property. And, in this example, a viable way to open up more space inside the home.

  8. Your basement is a terrific place to start when in need of extra space. Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, it can at least act as a storage area. Many homeowners don’t use this space to its full potential due to the fear of leaks, water damage, mold, mildew, etc. The best thing anyone can do for their home is check for foundation problems and signs of moisture. Get your home waterproofed and it prevents serious problems to your home in the future and you can get your unused living and storage space back!

  9. You need to find a way to make each space comfortable, with a purpose. If you just keep piling up stuff, or just keep adding shelves, you’ll end up with clutter. But if you can find a purpose for each space, you’ll maximize the area while keeping it a place you want to use. For example, if you have a family room, and fill it with furniture that’s too big, or ironing boards or other items that don’t fit the room physically or style wise, you’ll end up using it as just another “clutter room.”

  10. Organize your pantry! With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s wise to get your pantry in order in time for the busiest cooking and entertaining season of all. By getting things in order early, you will gain time; which is a high commodity this time of year.

    With a perfectly organized pantry, you’ll spend less time searching for that missing spice, serving bowl and gravy boat and will have more time to spend enjoying the holidays with your friends and family.

    Here are a few tips for getting an unruly pantry in order:

    • Purge your pantry before you start the organizing process. Expired foods and sprouted spuds should be tossed!
    • Get rid of spices that are more than two years old. If you can’t smell them, you won’t be able to taste them either.
    • Add an efficient storage system like freedomRail. It’s the smartest way to maximize space and since the shelves are adjustable, you can switch them around according to your needs.
    • Add bins and baskets to tame loose items like food storage lids, potatoes and onions.
    • Be sure to place the most frequently used items front and center like snacks and spices. Store less frequently used items up high like punch bowls and bread machines.
    • Use airtight food storage containers to keep dry foods fresh. Maximize vertical space by choosing containers that are stackable.

  11. Great suggestions so far. Here’s another slant on making the most of your living space over the holidays, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Some of your guests may be staying overnight. If you have more overnight guests than you have beds, it’s a good idea to keep a couple of blow-up beds on hand. I use them all the time for home staging and find them very reliable. A good quality blow-up bed will be comfortable when used on a short-term basis. You can adjust the amount of air added, to give the bed the firmness level that suits your guest. One idea: if you have a few kids among your overnight guests, set the blow-up beds up in the basement and they can have their very own slumber party away from the adults – they’ll love it!

  12. A simple interior design trick for making a room feel more spacious is to get things up off the floor. For example, install wall-mounted shelving and lighting instead of heavy end tables and floor lamps that take up space on the ground. Its so simple you’ll be amazed at how much more space you have just by freeing up the floor.

    If you’re willing to do a little remodeling, I strongly recommend finding unique, underutlized spaces where some well designed built-in storage can help you de-clutter other parts of the home. Awkward spaces underneath stairways are the classic example. If well designed and unique, built-in storage will add a lot of character to your home in addition to serving its functional purpose.

  13. The count down to the holidays is on. Your first step to making more space in your home is to tackle your project a little bit every day. Take a clip board and walk through the house and make a list of EVERYTHING that needs to be done, now or later. Make notes about items you are ready to part with. Pretend you are a stranger seeing your home for the first time. What do you notice that you have grown to overlook? Where can you create space? Can you move or eliminate a large chair for a small one? Install shelves? Using shelving to get items up off the floors and off of counters will create a large amount of space elsewhere with a small footprint.

    Take your list of ‘to-do’s’ and prioritize. Which projects can you do quickly, easily and for the lowest cost? Which projects will give you the most space? Take advantage of Purple Heart, Salvation Army and other donation pickup services to clear out unwanted but still useful items. Freecycle.org is another great way to pass along those items you no longer need/want to someone who will use them. You can often have your items gone the same day!

    Check out Rev-A-Shelf (sold online and at retailers such as Lowes) for cabinet organizing systems that will give you a lot of bang for your buck without a whole kitchen renovation.

    Work for 30 minutes every day. Set a timer and commit to it. You will see a huge change is a very short amount of time once you focus on getting your project done.

    Keep in mind, decluttering is not enough if you do not change the habits that got you there in the first place. Take this first step then consider setting new habits for yourself to maintain a more open space.

  14. Providing well-designed storage of all kinds is fundamental! Analyze, prioritize and maximize your home by eliminating the clutter – and provide some special places to conceal, organize and display the items you really want and need.

    Here are some great solutions to make the most of your living space:

    * Utilize the void space beneath your stairs and design a storage closet, built in shelving unit, bar area or a sleek powder room.

    * Maximize every inch of your kitchen with organized cabinet interiors. From pull out spice racks to built in pantries. Everything should have its place.

    * Design a beautiful and highly functional banquette with large spacious drawers. It’s perfect for cozy meals and storing all kinds of supplies.

    * Add recessed shelving anywhere there is ample wall space to do so. Always keep your home’s architecture in mind when designing those living room niches, bathroom shelving or floor to ceiling book,shelves in the family room.

    * Built-in storage is perfect for every room of your home and allows you to display all your favorite collections, and conceal the everyday mess.

    * Bedroom or living room window seats with storage drawers below will provide you with ample space and create a cozy and inviting reading corner.

    * In your home office/library wrap the entire room (even around the windows and doors) with custom cabinetry to store books, binders and your favorite objects d’art. Remember you only need 12″ deep shelving.

    Remember small spaces can be big on style.

  15. Who says size doesn’t matter? Oh, did I say size? I meant SPACE. Space DOES matter — greatly!

    Listen up, when it comes to getting the most out of one’s space think in terms of mechanisms. Huh? Allow me to explain. If a piece of furniture has a mechanism it likely does double duty. Well, certainly not ALL things that have mechanisms do double duty, but some do. And, here are two:

    #1 PROBLEM: You’ve got a studio apartment where the bedroom is simultaneously the living-room-cum-dining-room and yet you don’t have a way to have it all at once. Oh, but you do! SOLUTION: Install a “hydraulic” style lift on your coffee table base and the table can raise and lower at will. Soooo, lower it for your feet when watching TV “in living room” and raise it up when you’re “in the dining room” when you’re chowing down. Just don’t get confused and put your feet up on the table when you’re eating. Your Mom would be pissed!

    #2 PROBLEM: You’ve got a guest room that doubles as your home office. Don’t we all! The issue is you don’t want to stare at a queen bed all day long while you’re working. SOLUTION: Take a twin day bed and install a trundle bed mechanism underneath and VOILA you’ve got a bed built for two when guest come, but you don’t have to stare at it all day long while you’re taking names and making deals! As well, a Murphy bed has a righteous mechanism and allows for the bed to be hidden when not in use, though they generally cost a helluva sight more than a trundle bed. I’m always thinking about your wallet as if it was my own!

  16. Make sure you have a clear, defined purpose for each room – not just, “Living Room”, but determine what activities will actually happen in the space. Then, devote your furniture arrangement to providing what is needed for those activities – for example, a small writing desk can be a great sofa table, to be used as a desk when you want to surf the web on your laptop. Store items near the space you use them, such as DVD’s in drawers under the TV, or extra linens for a sofabed inside a storage ottoman. If you never go into a room, ask yourself why and give that room a reason to be. Then you’ll start using it and getting the value out of it. Add bookshelves to make a dining room into a library if you only dine a few times a year; put a wing chair at the head so you can read and do projects in there comfortably.

    Be honest with yourself – if you have a big furry dog and 3 kids under 5, don’t even attempt to have a formal living space. A casual room that is appropriate for family living can still look great for guests. Having a play room and keeping the family room off limits for toys means constant nagging to pick things up. Put easy storage, such as baskets under a coffee table or lower cabinet doors on bookshelves, for toys and games right where the kids want to use them, and if your playroom is underutilized, make it into a cozy parlor for adults – if it is out of the fray, it will stay clean and you can hole up in there when adult friends come over.

    The same applies to retirement homes – why so much square footage? Many people dream of the huge family home where all the extended family comes for the holidays, everyone has their own bed and bath, and no one bunks on the floor. Unless these gatherings are guaranteed to happen every year, having a 5 bedroom home is a huge waste of resources, both personal and ecological. Why not downsize and treat guests to a B&B when they come? They’ll be pampered, have privacy, and in the long run, it’s probably cheaper than maintaining a large home.

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