Naturally, we can be quick to point out the flaws in other people’s homes. Whether it’s a terrible design choice or problem with the layout, we can objectively identify issues when there’s no personal or emotional connection. But it’s often hard to tell which mistakes we’re making in our own homes. Whether through blissful ignorance or purposeful denial, we’re generally blind to our own mistakes.
Certain mistakes are innocent enough. For example, a poor color selection or unflattering fabric isn’t that big of a deal. Though it can ruin the aesthetic appeal of a room, there’s no functional impact. But then there are issues that significantly alter the way in which you use your home. These are issues that need to be brought to light.
The Problem of Wasted Space
Real estate is expensive. A flourishing economy, housing scarcity, and appreciating property values mean real estate doesn’t come cheap. While values can vary drastically from city to city, the average price per square foot has steadily climbed over the past decade.
According to this map, the average price per square foot in the United States is $132. In major markets like New York City ($1,397 per square foot) and San Francisco ($878 per square foot), prices are exponentially higher. But regardless of where you’re located, wasted space is wasted money – both in terms of functionality and resale value.
According to a recent study published by researchers from UCLA, most families use just a fraction of the space in their homes. You can see the findings here.
“Take note of the different areas of this home, especially the dining room,” personal finance blogger J.D. Roth. writes. “The dining room saw extremely little activity from this family. The porch was almost never used. The study found that 68% of the family’s time was largely spent in the kitchen/nook as well as the family room, typically near the television.”
Despite the fact that the average family essentially uses less than 1,000 square feet regularly, the average new home build is 2,400 square feet. And when it comes to existing homes – small, moderate, and large – the square footage that’s already there isn’t being used efficiently.
2 Simple Ways to Maximize Your Home’s Space
The size of your house is a discussion for another day. In this article, we want to focus on how you can maximize the space that you already have. This happens in two primary ways:
- Reduce Dead Space
Whether you realize it or not, you have hundreds of square feet that aren’t being maximized to their full potential. This may include a formal dining room (roughly 200 square feet), formal living room (roughly 330 square feet), an extravagant foyer (roughly 100 square feet), oversized bedrooms (up to 100 square feet of wasted space per room), and guest bedrooms (roughly 150 square feet).
Depending on the size of your family, your home’s layout, and the different ways in which you use your home, some or all of these rooms may be problem areas for you. The key is to repurpose these rooms so that they can become more functional. Ideas include:
- Dining room. Unless you frequently entertain guests, your dining room probably doesn’t get used more than once or twice per year. That’s the definition of wasted space. Depending on how it fits into your layout, you may be able to turn it into an office, kid’s play area, craft room, or extension of the kitchen.
- Formal living room. Formal living rooms were once a staple, but they’re now essentially useless. Like dining rooms, they sit there and collect dust. Consider turning it into another bedroom or a home office.
- You probably can’t do much about a massive foyer, but you can make it more functional by turning it into a mudroom with practical storage options.
- Oversized bedroom. Oversized bedrooms are rarely used for anything different that normal sized bedrooms are used for. It’s just dead space. Depending on how it fits into the floor plan, consider adding a walk-in closet, laundry room, or storage closet.
- Guest bedroom. Do you really need a dedicated guest bedroom? (You may or may not.) If you don’t actually use it during the year, why not transform it into a practical space? You can still keep a pullout sofa or daybed for those rare instances where a guest stays over.
Simply addressing two or three of these rooms could change the entire dynamic of your house for the better. Look for opportunities to increase functionality without compromising aesthetics. It’ll take some creativity, but you can make it happen.
- Be Purposeful With Storage
The second way homeowners miss out is by failing to properly utilize storage space, which leads to cluttered living spaces and dead areas that don’t live up to their potential. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but here are some tactics to consider:
- Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are great for storage, but they rarely get used well. Items are tossed in, never to emerge again. For more functional use of deep cabinets, install interior drawers that slide in and out.
- Most garages are so cluttered that cars are forced to park in the driveway. Plus, it’s impossible to find anything when you need it. While a decluttering session is the first step, the next step is to utilize vertical storage. This will allow you to organize your belongings and simultaneously create room to park cars and/or utilize the space as a hobby area.
- Under stairs storage. If you have a staircase leading up to a second story, consider making use of the space underneath the stairs. In many cases, there’s valuable unfinished square footage that can be used to make a closet or nook.
Green Residential: Houston’s Real Estate Leader
At Green Residential, we take pride in helping Houston-area homeowners and real estate investors maximize their enjoyment through smart investments that are cared for and maintained over time. Whether you’re interested in buying real estate, selling your home, or hiring a professional property management service, we’d love to chat!