Regaining Wasted Space
By: Danny Lipford
We’ll examine some innovative ways to utilize wasted space, maximize storage, and add additional square footage without increasing the footprint of your home.
Typical closets contain little more than a clothes rod with a shelf above it. To provide better use of the space, a complete makeover can be done by a company that specializes in home organizational solutions.
The process begins when a consultant comes to the home to measure the available space and determine the homeowner’s needs. The layout of the closet is then designed on a laptop computer utilizing special CAD software. After cleaning out the closet and removing any existing hardware, the walls are patched and painted in preparation for the makeover.
Prefinished components are cut to size and readied for assembly at the shop before being delivered to the home. Once there, a support track is mounted on the back wall, using a stud finder to make sure it is screwed securely in place. Prefinished vertical dividers are hung from the track and topped by a fixed shelf. The closet components—including clothes rods, drawers, pullout baskets, and adjustable shelves—are then installed between the dividers.
A custom professional makeover for your closet can cost over $1,000. If that’s a little steep for your budget, you can do the work yourself using stock materials that are available at home improvement centers.
- Watch this video on a Complete Closet Makeover
Laundry Room Renovation
The laundry room is another part of the house that often becomes cluttered and contains wasted space. To better utilize it, construct shelves and storage units from sheets of medium density fiberboard (MDF). After ripping the sheets to width, the individual parts are primed and given a coat of paint before being installed.
To make use of the space near the ceiling, mount a shelf around the laundry room flush with the top of the door and window casings.
A storage unit is used to hold multiple laundry baskets while the space over the dryer is a perfect location for a hanging rod.
Fold-down ironing boards are another great way to maximize your space in the laundry room. Models made by NuTone are recessed to fit between two studs and include a shelf to hold the iron as well as a plug and light. When folded down, the ironing board pivots to allow it to turn sideways in tight quarters. The door comes in a number of styles ranging from natural wood to a beveled mirror.
- Watch this video on How to Organize a Laundry Room
- Watch this video on Adding a Built-in Ironing Board
- Watch this video on How to Install a Built-in Ironing Board
Converting a Basement
If increasing your storage space still doesn’t give you enough breathing room, you might want to consider converting an unfinished basement into additional living area. Unless the basement was built with conversion in mind, however, the location of ductwork, wiring, and plumbing can pose a challenge. While working around them may require creative solutions, carefully planning can turn these limitations into positive design elements.
Another problem with basements is the lack of windows and doors to provide ventilation and natural lighting. Some building codes may require the addition or enlargement of windows or doors to serve as an escape route in case of emergency.
Adapting an Attic
An attic can often be converted to useable living space. While this may require adding a staircase and beefing up the existing framing, it’s still an attractive alternative to building an addition from scratch. As with a basement conversion, adapting an attic often requires working around or relocating the mechanical systems in the house. Dormers are a good way to add light, as well as additional floor space, to an attic room.
Enclosing a Garage
If you don’t mind parking the car outside, a garage or carport can easily be converted into useable living space. To make it blend seamlessly with the rest of the house, try to match the home’s existing materials as closely as possible. It’s also important to disguise the old garage door opening and remove a section of driveway where it meets the home, so the conversion is not obvious.
- Watch this video on Converting a Basement, Attic, or Garage
Removing a Wall
If you’re not able to expand your existing living area, then consider taking out an interior wall to open the house up and make it feel bigger. In order to replace any storage space you lost when the wall came down, line one of the remaining walls with cabinets. In bedrooms, tall dressers or wardrobes can replace any lost closet space while giving the room a more open feel.
- Watch this video on Removing Walls to Open Up Living Area
- Watch this video on How to Remove a Load Bearing Wall
An old hollow core door makes a perfect workbench that is both lightweight and easy to store. Lay the door on the floor and position two collapsible sawhorses upside down on top of it a foot or so from each end. Screw the sawhorses to the solid wood frame that runs around the outer edge of the door with 1¼” screws. After turning it upright, it’s ready for use. The workbench can be stored flat against a wall by flipping it over and folding up the collapsible legs. (Watch This Video)
The Zircon MetalliScanner m40 is a combination metal detector and stud finder that not only finds nails in walls but can detect other hidden metallic objects as well, such as copper pipes or ductwork. It works on everything from drywall and plaster to paneling and tile. The Zircon metal detector is available at The Home Depot stores for around $40. (Watch This Video)
Ask Danny: Hiring a Handyman
Danny, can you give me some advice on how to hire a decent handyman? -Zeb from North Carolina
When hiring someone to work on your home, start by asking how many years they’ve been in business, how they price their work, and if they provide a free estimate. It’s also important to be sure they carry liability insurance. If not, you may be responsible for any medical expenses—or more—if they are injured on the job. Get a complete description in writing of all the work that will be done and exactly how much it will cost. Remember, some jobs are best left to professionals who specialize in the field. (Watch This Video)
Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® were provided by Ryobi.