Downsizing, flat sharing, subdividing rooms. The trend these days seems to be for the space we have to live in to get smaller and smaller. As rents and house prices spiral in popular cities, the hard reality is that many of us are having to get used to coping with less space. Square footage is becoming a premium luxury that only the well-off can afford.
The trouble is, it’s coinciding with an age where many of us have more stuff. As easy credit and fast fashion transform what we have available to us, it’s getting easy to feel overcrowded –and the result is the trend of a minimalist life, with the KonMari method inspiring millions of us to spend a weekend folding our entire collection of winter jumpers and asking ourselves if that tatty collection of trainers really ‘sparks joy’ in our lives.
If you’re fortunate enough to own a home, it may still not meet your space requirements fully, or these may change over time – it’s easy to have changing needs and expanding families leading you to run out of space. But moving to a larger property is not necessarily always an option. So what do you do if you’ve outgrown your space and need to add more space? Here are some options to get you thinking:
ADD SOME SQUARE FOOTAGE
Although this is the most expensive option, its also the one that will add more space and real value to your home, so if you can find a way to do it, it’s usually a worthwhile investment. Especially with older houses, adding some open plan space to the back creates a real selling point. It’s essential to assess costs upfront, and think carefully about what you need the space for. Many people like to add an extra bedroom, a family room or a utility room – check with an estate agent what the most desirable addition is for your local area. Take your time finding a quality contractor who has worked on similar projects and will be able to bring relevant ideas to the table. Start by looking up recommended tradesmen in your area – for example, a search for ‘renovations and extensions Melbourne’ will let you access customer reviews. Speak to previous clients to check the standard of work beforehand.
GO UP OR DOWN
If expanding outwards isn’t an option, you could consider extending upstairs or down by converting the loft into a bedroom, extra bathroom or study or tanking your basement level to create additional living space. Any form of major construction is going to cost money, but if you can access a reasonable loan rate it could be worth considering as high-quality extensions usually pay for themselves when it comes time to sell – plus, you get to enjoy the additional space while you’re living there. Find a good structural engineer to survey pressing ahead with any major projects.
ADD A GARDEN ROOM
A growing trend over the last decade has been to add a ‘garden room’ to your house. These standalone structures sit halfway between an outbuilding and a permanent dwelling and can be wired for electricity. They are easy to construct and cost a lot less than a traditional extensions while providing vital extra space for that coveted craft studio, home gym, office or guest bedroom. They can be configured in all sorts of ways and customised to suit your needs, and don’t require any upheaval in your current living space.
TAKE OUT SOME WALLS
If the flow of a space isn’t working, you can transform the layout completely by removing non-load bearing walls – it’s not a huge job, but it can really make a big difference to the look, feel and uses of your home. Walls are the physical parameters that dictate the scale and size of your useable space, and also determine what fixtures and furniture you can use – so taking them out give you a blank page to redesign a space better suited to your needs that will of course add more space.
CHANGE UP YOUR FURNITURE
If expensive building works really aren’t a possibility, then considering swapping out key pieces of furniture and a simple clutter busting exercise can really help. Getting rid of inherited pieces that you no longer need, and opting for compact furniture that is specifically designed to perform multiple functions or stow away when not in use can help add more space. Look at things such as a folding dining table, or sofa beds to really make your space adaptable. You could replace traditional chairs with ottomans that function as a table or seating and also contain hidden storage. With so many people facing this problem, there’s a whole world of cleverly designed solutions out there.