Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Make Use of Wasted Space in Your Home


There are many ways to better utilize the space in your home, including organizing closets and adding storage to the laundry room. Watch this video to find out how to take advantage of the wasted space in your home from small projects to large. ...More




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How to Make Use of Wasted Space in Your Home

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There are many ways to find and use wasted or unused space in your home, including:

  • Installing shelves and pullouts to organize your closets.
  • Adding storage space to your laundry room.
  • Finishing a basement to turn it into living space.
  • Converting an attic to extra bedrooms or a bonus room.
  • Enclosing a garage and turning it into living space.
  • Removing an interior wall to enlarge a room.

Read episode article to find out more.



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This week we’re looking at ways to regain wasted space in your home. One of the easiest ways to do that is to maximize the efficiency of your storage space. We’ll also explore some options a little living space to your place whether that’s in the suburbs or right in the middle of town.

This week we’re looking at a number of different ways to maximize every bit of space we have in our homes. And of course, one challenge we all have is how to get the most out of our storage area. Now we’ll look at several different storage areas in the home, but first we want to look at a typical bedroom closet. This closest is about 2 feet deep by 6 feet wide. You’ve got the closet rod that’s about five feet off the floor with the shelf above it. Very typical use of a space like this. But not the most efficient. Now the homeowner that’s about to tackle this project is Lisa Wages, and Lisa obviously one of your son’s closets.

Actually is my two teenage boys share this room, so this is their closet. You know, it’s, as a mom, it’s so frustrating and try and put things away, because there’s not a place for everything. And it’s frustrating for them too, because there’s nowhere to put it so they either throw it on the floor or the floor of the closet.

Well it defiantly can be used a lot better than that, and what Lisa’s decided to do is to hire a company that specializes in home organizational solutions. And makes it a lot easier when you have someone, a company that’s familiar with design and they’ve been through this situation quite a bit to come in and kind of reorganize it for you but you’ve got the hard part having to get rid of all this stuff.

As soon as Lisa finishes clearing out the boys stuff, the pros go to work, removing what little bit of hardware there is in this closest, The old hanging rod and shelf come out so that the installers can start from scratch. But before the new stuff goes in, they have to patch the walls, and repaint the whole closet so that it has a nice, clean look.

When the paint is dry, the new hardware starts going in with a single support track mounted on the back wall. Now Brad Tucker is in charge of putting this project together, and he’s making sure this track is attached securely to several studs because it’s supporting so much. Next, the major vertical pieces of the puzzle hang from this track to begin subdividing this space. Along the top fixed shelves add stability to the growing structure and creates the largest horizontal service in the new closet.

They’re also fixed shelves across the bottom, which allow the space in between to be filled with adjustable shelving. Now the center section is also set up for some real cool hardware like this wire basket and these drawers to organize some of the smaller items. As soon as brad finishes putting the new closet together, Lisa is right on his heels, ready to move her boys into the reorganized space. Brad, I’m really surprised out how quick this came together. Now how does the whole process start, because every homeowner has a different need for their closets.

First we sit down with the homeowners and asses what their needs are and determine what they’re storing in their closets and then we sit down out our laptop and design something for them and show them in 3d and then they can kind of tweak it from there and we come up with a custom design that matches their specific needs.

That’s got to help a lot because many homeowners have a little trouble visualizing what a particular space will look like, especially if they’ve seen the same old closet over and over. Now after you get through that process then what all it takes just a little while to get in place.

We do a lot of the prep work in our warehouse then it’s just an assembly job when we get it here. Not very disruptive at all.

Now when you’re going over everything with the homeowners, I guess you almost have to get a little personal. If they have long hanging dresses and long coats, I think here with the boys that are in this room, they have mostly just the short need for the racks and so forth so it makes it able to cram a lot more in here I guess.

It sure can.

Now I know this is not a do it yourself type system, so what are we looking at as far as overall costs. I know things change from one part of the country to the other. But what’s the approximate install cost.

It’s about an 1,100 to 1,200 dollar project that we install for them and, you know, some of the components that drive the cost are drawers and baskets. We could certainly make a more affordable closet with more open space and more hanging space.

And most of the closets you do are the white finish?

Most of them are, and we warehouse that and, so we can turn it around quickly. But it also comes in other wood finishes.

Well this is probably the most common need for some organization in most people’s house. But you do a lot more than just closets.

We do. We do laundry rooms and pantries and garages and home offices as well.

I see. Well this is defiantly and improvement here. Thanks a lot Brad. Now Joe has a tip for you if you’re having a little trouble figuring out how to organize your workspace.

Well we’re talking about saving space around the house. Let me show you a great way to build a space saving workbench. This is great for all your home improvement projects, wood working projects and even arts and crafts. It starts with a hollow core door. This is a door I salvaged from an old closet remodeling. And it’s hollow core meaning it’s hollow in the core and it’s lightweight and it makes a perfect portable workbench. Then I bought two collapsible saw horses and they screwed them to the door with one quarter inch drywall screws.

Now, because this is a hollow core door, it’s lightweight, but it has a solid wood frame that runs around just the perimeter of the door. So when you’re driving the screws, be sure to keep them close to the edge of the door so you catch some good solid war. When you’re ready to put the workbench away you simply pull up the legs and fold them in. When you get them all folded down, you get a really nice small package you can store almost anywhere. Then, when you’re ready to work, you slide the legs back into the sockets, turn it over, and you’re ready to work.

After the break, we’ll take on the laundry room.

This week we’re trying to help you eliminate any wasted space you may have in your home. And one of the areas that always needs a little organization is the bedroom closet. Now earlier we showed you how a company completely reorganized an existing closet. Made a big difference in it but you can do it yourself just like this homeowner did when he revamped his son’s closet. Basically has a rod here and another rod here. Great use of the space. Then on either end, he has plenty of shelving for all those little games and odd and ends that boys will accumulate.

Now, this takes a little bit of basic carpentry skills, a little bit of time, and a little bit of materials, but it’s very easy to but this together and reorganize your own closet. Now another area of the home that’s notorious for being quite a magnet for a little bit of everything and really needs some reorganization so your laundry room.

And that’s especially true when you’ve got a laundry like this one. This is called a walk through laundry for obvious reasons. You come in through the garage and you walk through it to get through the kitchen. That means it’s a very convenient easy access. But there’s some disadvantages here too because this is a major traffic artery. You got the family walking in this side, and some small children here. The first thing they want to do is put stuff down that’s in their hands. So books, toys, clothes, all kinds of things get laid right here just like Danny said it becomes a magnet. The homeowner knew something had to change so recently he came in here and actually took a lot of advantage of the wasted space but I don’t want you to look at it just yet. Let me show you what it looked like before.

The laundry wasn’t a huge mess but it certainly didn’t make use of the space available. But if fact the laundry basket caddy was a great idea but it just didn’t handle enough baskets for this family. The only other storage was single wire shelf over a washer and dryer which was pretty much maxed out. So for starters, everything had to go just like Lisa’s closet. But in this case, the homeowner Scott was taking on the work himself. It become obvious how overloaded the wire shelf was when we took it out so the new stuff would have to be sturdy.

Scott chose medium density fiberboard for his shelving and he began by ripping it down into 16 and 12 inch widths with a table saw. Then he laid out the location for the cleats that would support the shelves and mark the studs. Now to speed up the work, he coated all the materials with primer and the first coat of paint before cutting them to length and installing them in the laundry room. 1 by 4 cleats connect all of the door casings so the upper shelf can run all the way around the room just above the door height.

To replace the laundry basket caddy he removed, Scott planned a unit to run all the way from the floor up to this overhead shelf. One by two cleats divided into six equal sections would be transferred into the wall once in place. A brace on the other side of the window will let strength and support a small hanging rod over the dryer. The upper shelf is notched with a 45 degree cut on each end so that when the other pieces are ratted, they’re opposing cuts will overlap and support each other.

Opposite the washer and dryer, a narrow set of shelves uses what little space is left between the two drawers when they’re open. Once he got it all together and touched up the paint, there was plenty of space for baskets, three times more overhead shelving, and just the right amount of hanging space. Plus the new shelf between the doors turned out to be the perfect size for detergent, bleaches and other products. The cleats behind the doors even created some create opportunities to hang brooms and mops.

Speaking of laundry rooms, one of the chores we often do there is ironing clothes. And no matter how big your laundry room is, it’s hard to find the space for a full size ironing board. The solution, the fold down version. Though these things have been around for decades they’re not exactly like the model your grandmother used.

Ironing and ironing centers have changed over the years to make a stylized product that will fit nicely in your laundry room or in a master bedroom closet, a very attractive unit that has a number of features. Easily installed, they fit within existing stud dimensions. They can we electrified, they don’t have to be. Features that allow you to operate in a door way. Easily adjusted in many different ways. Different cabinet options to fit your decor. They fit different irons and all the accessories that you might need to make it a very effective unit.

Before you start the installation of your folding ironing board you maybe want to check out the new tool that Emilie has for us on our Best New Product of the week.

Sometimes the simplest chores around the house can become very complicated very quickly. Like putting that new mirror you just bought on the wall seems easy enough. That is until you try to find a stud so that you can hang it. Now an ordinary stud finder will do the job as long as you don’t you have lather plastic walls. But if you do, well now there is a solution. This the MetalliScanner m40, and it’s from Zircon.

It can identify the pattern of nails that hold wood to the studs within a plaster wall. It also gives you the ability to find both magnetic and nonmagnetic deep within other materials and this allows you to find things like plumbing pipes, duck work and rebar that are beneath the service before you drill holes through dry fasteners. And what really makes the MetalliScanner versatile is that in addition to finding metal between drywall and plaster, it also works on paneling tile, stucco and even concrete. Now at 40 dollars it costs a bit more than some stud finders. But, considering all of the extra things that it can find, I think it’s worth the price.

Next, we’ll explore how to add some space to your place.

This week we’re talking about making the most out of the space we have. And so far we’ve looked at some pretty good ways to maximize storage space and we all need more of that. But for many people, it isn’t just storage they need. They need more living space in general. The space that family grows, our needs change, and we just need more room. But what if a new home isn’t in the budget or you just don’t want to move?

Well, that’s a story I’ve heard hundreds of times over the years as a remodeling contractor, but to make matters worse, there isn’t always room or money to build onto your home, but often you’ll that space that’s already available, just needs to be converted to usable living space. You start looking around your home, you might be amazed at the options you’ll find to create more room.

One of the most obvious and popular options is the basement because it’s completely enclosed and usually accessible. But there are some challenges to a basement conversion and one of them is all the mechanical elements like plumbing and ductwork which are routed through this space. They can break up the area, making it barely usable. But, with a little creativity, you can frame walls and ceilings around them and even use those as opportunities to make the living space for interesting. Now because they’re mostly or completely below ground, natural light is hard to come by in a basement. But in some cases, building codes will require you to add windows or increase the size of the existing windows in order to create an escape route. But done right, a basement conversion can add some very cool extra space to your home.

Now, if looking down doesn’t work, how about looking up? Many homes have lots of unused attic space that’s perfect for an additional room or two. Here access is usually an issue since a folding ladder may be the only way to get to and from the attic. But, adding a landing and a turn to a staircase is a great way to squeeze it in to an existing space. The layout of an attic room is very important because any bracing for the roof that is removed must be handled by the new wall that you build. And, when you’re adding attic space, dormers are the best way to add in more light. Plus, you get a lot of extra square footage as well.

If the basement or attic conversion won’t work, how about a garage or carport? If you don’t mind parking the car out in the weather, you can grab a lot of space this way and do it pretty inexpensively. But you don’t want a garage conversion that looks like a garage conversion, so it’s important to do a few things like match the exterior materials to the house, discuss the old garage opening, and cut back the driveway where it used to be. Now these areas like basement are ideal for playrooms because they offer bulk space that can be set aside for a single purpose.

But one of my favorite garage related renovations is a sun room I saw recently. Instead of converting the garage itself, the homeowners filled in the space between the house and the detached garage by building two walls and a roof covered with glass panels that created a wonderful bright space that must be an ideal place to enjoy the sun on a cold, cold day. Glass doors into this area let the existing house benefit from all of that light and the old garage windows were shuttered and converted into a nice, small entertainment center.

But what if the space you call home has no basement, attic or garage from which to borrow space? Well that’s a situation faced by many homeowners of condos and coops in large cities. Recently, I was in Milwaukee and I had a chance to see how some of these urban dwellers go about finding more space.

Now, this is a great example of that type of urban living. Now this building was build about 40 years ago as an apartment complex, and over the years it’s been changed to condominiums so it allowed individuals to buy the separate units and renovate them any way they want. One of the most popular renovations in this building is removing as many walls as they possibly can to make they’re little bitty space a lot larger. It also gives some great views of beautiful lake Michigan. But when you start removing interior walls it can present a storage challenge.

In the original floor plan, you entered the apartment on the left and the door to the bedroom on the right as you moved in to the living room. There was almost no view at all from the kitchen because the wall divided it from the living room and the opening to the dining area was so narrow. Even though these walls block the views, they also house storage in the form of closet, cabinets and shelving.

With a new floor plan, the whole apartment is opened up with views in two different directions so the storage has been moved into cabinetry. On the outer walls with now windows, the cabinets run floor to ceiling and offer storage of all kinds. Underneath the windows, base cabinets use the space in two different ways. First, they create horizontal storage, or workspace on top of them. Second, they have the inside with features open space with adjustable shelves as well as roll out drawers for some of the smaller items. Even the view from the bedroom has been opened up to maximize the feel of space. But again, cabinets offer the storage that was lost from the elimination of the closet.

You know cabinets are a great way to maximize your storage space but you’ve got to keep in mind that by the time you buy cabinets and have them installed you spend a lot a lot more money than simply customizing closets. But if you have a situation like our friends in Milwaukee where you can really enhance your view, probably well worth the money.

Danny, can you give me some advice on how to hire a decent handyman?

I’ll be honest with you, Zeb. Hiring a handyman is not easy, and many people have had some fairly bad experiences trying to do so. You know, they may not show up, some don’t return calls, and some say they can do a particular type of a job and then they do a very poor job. So in order to avoid this kind of disappointment, here’s some advice.

Before hiring any handyman, ask him or her questions. How many years have you been in business? How do you price your work? Do you give free estimates? And do they carry liability insurance? If not, remember that you’re responsible for any medical expense and possibly even more if they’re injured while they’re working for you. Finally, make sure you get a complete, detailed descriptions of all the work they plan on doing and exactly what it will cost. And remember, even though most handy men do have a variety of skills, some jobs are best left to the specialists.

More space saving ideas, coming right up.

This week we’ve looked at some great ways to maximize space in your home, and we’ve tried to hit the stuff that will help you the most. Now whether you intend to do the work yourself or hire a pro like the ones we talked to earlier, there are tons of ways to get more out of the storage areas in your home. And you’ve also seen there are more than a few options when it comes to getting the most from the living space in your home, whether that happens to be a three bedroom, two bath ranch, or a high rise condo.

There are so many different ideas to maximize the space you have available in your home and we’ve only been able to cover just a few of the ideas that are available on our website. Fortunately, some of you viewers have posted some great ideas. Hey thanks for being with us. We’ll see you soon.

Next week we’re updating a seventies flashback and expanding the kitchen for the home’s new owner.