Get Extra Space Without Breaking the Bank

Find the unused space in the house you already have -- and feel better in the processHave you ever found yourself wishing for a bit of extra space in your home?

Maybe you’d like a place where you can leave messy projects set up on a permanent basis, or a place where you can work without disturbing others or being disturbed.

You don’t have to buy a bigger house or rent space to accomplish that goal. Most times (especially if you live in the U.S. or Canada) there’s plenty of room available right where you’re already living.

You just have to get creative.

I spent three years working out of a 4×6 walk-in closet, because it turned out to meet my needs almost perfectly. It wasn’t a spare closet either, so don’t think you need to have an empty room available in order to gain usable space. (I moved some of its contents to other places, and just lived with the rest.)

If you’re looking to gain extra space without breaking the bank, here are some steps that will help.

Evaluate your needs

Evaluate your needs by asking this question: What’s the bare minimum that you would need to accomplish your goal? Get extreme when thinking about this, and create a list of those needs.

So if you’d like space to write, you’d need enough room for yourself and your computer, and that’s about it. That could be as little as a 3ft x 4ft square. (Or smaller, if you’re using a paper notebook.)

See things differently

Getting extreme helps you to see things in a different light. Look around your house, and pretend that every room is up for grabs. What areas of each room are empty right now? Make a list of those specific areas.

If there’s an empty spot in the middle if your kitchen or half a closet that might work if it were empty and the door was open, write them down. Don’t let any “buts” or thoughts on suitability slip in at this point. That will come later. Right now you’re just brainstorming, so include everything as a possibility.

Give yourself more space

Chances are, you don’t use all of the things you own. So give yourself more space to work with by decluttering. How?

Figure out which areas are filled with stuff that you rarely (if ever!) use. Maybe you have a bunch of stuff stored under your bed that you only see when you’re looking for the cat. See if you can’t donate or sell some of that stuff. (My vote is for donating, since it will get the items out of your house faster.) If you have things that you only use once a year, you may want to move them to a more difficult-to-access location.

The more storage space you free up at this point, the more space you’ll have available to put things that are currently filling up the area you actually want to use.

Combine your lists and go!

Go back to the two lists you made originally. Which areas might work to meet your needs, if you rearranged things a little? Remember that a room might be labeled a dining room, bedroom, living room, or hallway on a floor plan, but it can be anything you want to use it for.

Sometimes this can be as simple as setting up a screen to break an existing space into two separate rooms. Other times it might mean clearing things out or shuffling things around. For example, you might take a newly cleared-out closets and install shelving in it to act as a desk that you pull a chair up to. Don’t get hung up on a room’s official “function” either. Focus on what will work for you.

By doing so, you can gain extra space on a shoestring. (And maybe even make a little extra cash in the process.) Look around your house with new eyes, and let us know what you find!