How to Make Your Current Home Work for You (If Moving Isn’t an Option)

It’s spring now, which means it’s the time of year when my husband and I thought maybe we’d move into a bigger house. In fact, we have been thinking this for the third spring: the first was just when the pandemic hit, the second was when we were finally vaccinated and ready to start looking, but the housing market did what it did, and the third is right now. when the housing market the market is still doing what it does. “Maybe next spring!” was our mantra for almost a third of the time we lived in this house, and I decided it was time to take a different approach: I decided it was time to love (or at least better tolerate) the house we live in. already inside.

Of course, the mere desire to have a home that meets all your needs does not make it one. This nearly 100-year-old home lacks things like closets, large open spaces, or a driveway. However, nearly 100 years old, this house has also been great for many families for many decades, and there’s no reason why it can’t be perfect for us for a few more years – with a few changes. Some of this requires a change of mind and some requires strategic purchases, but here’s how I was able to get myself to stop yearning for things like big decks in the backyard and a decent amount of counter space.

Make a list of what you don’t like

I’ve already mentioned some of the limitations of my own home, and you probably have yours too. We are not trying to dwell on disappointment here, we are looking for solutions. If you’ve ever been to my house or talked to me for a while, you probably know that kitchen storage (or lack thereof) is one of my biggest frustrations. I like to cook; I don’t like going down to the basement every time I need a blender, a hand mixer, a frying pan, a slow cooker, a jar of chicken stock, some beans or a jar of mushrooms. (Oops, I linger, it’s a habit.) So, I need more storage space, or a way to more easily access things I use regularly.

You may need a place for guests to sleep, a dedicated play area for your children, or a quiet place to work. You probably won’t be able to fix it (this house of mine will simply never have a driveway or garage unless my neighbor agrees to demolish his house to make room), but you may have lived there so long that reconciled to their home. flaws as facts, not as obstacles that you can overcome with some creative thinking. List everything you would like to have so you can figure out how to actually get some of it.

And the things you can’t get? You can probably live without. I wish I had a four-bedroom house so I could have a separate guest bedroom, but just the other day I was able to let go of that fantasy by saying out loud, “You know what? People can just stay at the hotel. That’s great.” The few times a year that we actually have out-of-town guests, they can either lounge on my pull-out sofa or air mattress or stay in a damn hotel. It may not be ideal, but it’s okay. .

Buy the right furniture

For literally a few years, I hesitated to buy something decorative or even functional that I thought would look especially good in this house, for fear that then we would move and the new things would not work in the new house, and I spent everything this money. However, here’s what I’ve come to realize over the past year: If you really love a piece of furniture, you can probably make it work in the house next door (if you ever really move), but what if you can’t? You can sell it or give it to someone who likes it. At the same time, if it makes your current space more usable, it’s worth it. I am, of course, referring to the buffet that I bought in January, and which gives me unquenchable love and affection:

I used to have a smaller decorative table in this space that I also liked, but that didn’t have the three cabinets and drawers that this beautiful piece has. I still have to go to the basement for chopped tomatoes, but NOT for my slow cookers, broilers, or portable appliances. One piece of furniture has opened up so much extra storage space for me that it’s literally a game changer. The right piece of furniture for you might be a sofa bed to help your home office become a guest bedroom , or a room divider to help you create a separate play area for your kids . All these things are cheaper than a new house, so you really save money.

Repurpose space

The fact that a room or space once served a specific purpose does not mean that it must always serve that purpose. My house has three bedrooms, which is a pretty good ratio for the three people who live in it. The third bedroom has been used in many different ways over the years: first the guest bedroom, then the children’s bedroom when we were foster parents for a couple of years, and now it’s my home office. Our unfinished basement was once primarily used for storage until we converted half of it into a makeshift “baby cave” a few years ago .

An unused bedroom corner or dressing room can become a reading nook. The formal dining room, which is currently used a couple of times a year, could become a games room that is used every day of the year. The garage can be a place to play . An enclosed porch can become a home office overlooking nature. Try to look at the space with a fresh eye – not at what it is now, but at what it could give you with some changes.

When all else fails, add what you need

Adding an extension to your home isn’t the cheapest option, especially with all the inflation and supply chain frenzy right now. But if you have some money set aside for your next home and find that the next home isn’t likely to come up anytime soon, that money is better used to make your current home fit your needs, especially if those additions also add value to your home. Houses.

Add entire rooms or couple suites if you like, but even small touches like a back porch fencing can create more living space. We are currently considering converting the enclosed back porch into a pantry and half bathroom, which would mean 1) I no longer have to go to the basement even for canned food and 2) we will improve the current environment in our house. unacceptable ratio of three people to one toilet.

For your purposes, you can add a backyard shed to store your lawn care tools and supplies. Or you can add a deck or awning to enjoy your outdoor space more fully. The goal is to cross off as many items as possible from the list we made at the beginning so that your current home becomes less of a trap and more like the space you want or need to be.

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