How to Get a Bigger House Without Buying a New One

by Jason on March 10, 2010

If your family’s growing and you need extra space, get it without buying a new home or building an expensive addition onto your house. Here’s how.

Clear the clutter in every cupboard, closet, drawer and storage area. Evaluate your keepsakes. Scan photos to revive the memory later. Do you really need nine things to remember Aunt Lucy by?

When it comes to furnishings and décor, think vertical. Get as much off the floor as possible to create more space. Reduce the amount of furniture you have. Instead of using plant stands, hang them on hooks.

Simplify and Sell

Get rid of some of your seating, especially if kids enjoy plopping on the floor instead. Remove clutter catchers like extra tables. Minimize the scale of your furniture, too. Sectional sofas and giant coffee tables gobble up more space than separated seating and diminutive end tables.

A friend sold her oak entertainment center/curio cabinets, her children’s outgrown movies, and standard television. She then used that money to buy a wall-mountable flat screen TV with a built-in DVD player and two slim storage towers for her DVDs and found extra floor space without blowing the budget.

My family started keeping electronic records, which eliminated two filing cabinets in the home office. Downsizing from a sprawling desk to a taller, slimmer desk also created space.

On eBay, Craigslist or on a community bulletin board, list items that you wish to sell.  Hosting a garage sale is a perfect way to create some extra space.Search Ebay’s Want it Now section to see if anyone’s looking for your items.

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Maximize Space and Decorate Effectively

Now that you have more room and cash, you can really make strides in expanding your space. Select lighter colors to make your rooms open up visually when painting. Certain things can visually shrink rooms, such as heavy drapes, dim lighting, dark woodwork, busy patterns, and an abundance of knickknacks.

Efficiently use your storage areas. This will make your rooms seem bigger because you have fewer items in sight. Also, as an added benefit, you may be able to thin out more furniture per room.

By adding shelves in large cupboards, hanging shoe holders in closets and using over-the-door hooks, I’m given more closet space and the need for a coat tree is eliminated. I also like cascading closet hooks so shirts, skirts and folded pants use much less space.

Stow more with tables and ottomans that have built-in storage space. For example, using small, freestanding cabinets for nightstands lends us more storage than many tables would. Bunk beds with built-in drawers spared us from crowding the kids’ room with two beds and dressers.

I maximize the space under beds, couches and under the rod in closets. Plastic storage containers provide storage for whatever you want to stow nearby, such as throw blankets, board games, extra sheets, and toys.

Strategic Functionality of Your Rooms

Get more value from each room by multiplying its functions. This strategy may even garner an additional room. To merge his family room and home office and get an extra bedroom, Rich, a Pennsylvania dad, installed a tuner chip in his computer.

It functions as their television and DVD player, which eliminated the need for an additional screen and piece of furniture to house it. They aren’t big TV viewers, so this solution worked well for them.

Tuck a computer armoire in a kitchen or den because when the armoire doors are closed, it blends seamlessly with the room and nixes the need for a separate office.

Dale, a New York dad, gained two new bedrooms and a bathroom for his growing family by finishing off half his basement (check the building codes of your city before making structural changes). By completing most of the work himself with the help of knowledgeable friends, Dale saved quite a bit.

Compared with the cost of buying a larger home or building an addition, selling furniture and things you don’t need to “buy” more functional pieces and dividing large, open spaces to gain rooms still makes plenty of sense.

This has been a guest post by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant.  Deborah writes from her home in Wolcott, N.Y.

You can also find more room in your home by selling unwanted items. Hosting a garage sale is a perfect way to create some extra space.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai March 10, 2010 at 8:58 am

Ahhh decluttering… one of my favorite activities Deborah. Like your ideas!
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Mental To Physical Connection For A Healthier Lifestyle =-.

Jason March 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Sam, It’s always a liberating feeling to throw out a bunch of junk you never really used to begin with!
.-= Jason´s last blog ..Is Money Your Functional Savior? =-.

Kevin@OutOfYourRut March 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm

When people say the “need” a bigger house, you often have to wonder if they need it literally for more space for the family, or to have more room to store their stuff?

If we could learn to practice minimalism where furniture and household contents are concerned, there might not be such a need for trading up to a bigger house every few years, with all the expenses that come with that.

In fact, a bigger house guarantees one thing: more stuff to fill it. Then we’ll be back to needing a still bigger house a few years later. And we’ll call that “success”.

It’s more like a perpetual arms race with ourselves.
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Why It Might Be Better to OWE on Your State Income Tax Return =-.

Len Penzo March 10, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Check for wasted space in the walls!

For example, we maximized storage space by opening up a small door in the wall under the stairs (that created a brand new storage room for us). We also made a hinged door in a bay window bench to create storage under that.


Len Penzo dot Com
.-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..The (Dead)Beat Generation =-.

Jason March 11, 2010 at 7:02 am

Great ideas Len – it’s amazing what you can do when you get creative! Nice job.

Jason March 11, 2010 at 7:04 am

Kevin, you’re right – it seems like we create this perpetual cycle of consume, upsize, consume, upsize – when in reality, just looking at true needs vs wants will help us get rid of the junk we don’t need and keep us content with what we have so we don’t always have to go bigger! “Perpetual arms race with ourselves” – I like that!

Financial Samurai March 12, 2010 at 12:33 am

It’s crazy Jason. When I lived in a 1 bedroom, the place was packed. Then i doubled my space to a 2 bedroom, and the place still got packed. Then i doubled again to a house, and it’s STILL PACKED!

The wife and I went to Goodwill this past weekend and gave away 7 bags of stuff. We need to give away another 7 bags before i feel like we have just enough.

IT doesn’t feel good having a lot of stuff!
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Art of The Interview =-.

Woodworking project plans September 13, 2010 at 7:19 am

Tuck a computer armoire in a kitchen or den because when the armoire doors are closed.

Sectional Sofas September 15, 2010 at 2:57 am

Thank you for sharing these tips. Using also modern furniture that are designed to be compact and space friendly are also a good option to maximize your home’s space.

Modern Furniture September 21, 2010 at 12:54 am

Following all the these tips can give your more space on your home and look even bigger.

aluminum patio furniture March 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

Your parents need to understand that financial assistance is for families who prefer to spend their money on expensive homes and not their children. No financial aid for that, nor should it be there.

Deb August 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I’m glad you liked my article. I have many tips on saving money on your grocery bill and low-cost, original recipes at Deb

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