Increase Your Living Area - Cheap

We moved into our first house in 2001 from a small apartment. My wife and I had 2 small kids and with 1,200 square feet of living area, the new house was nearly double the size of our prior rental unit. Kids got bigger, we bought stuff, and after a couple of years, to our surprise, we began to yearn for more room.

The kitchen suddenly seemed small, and the bedrooms, some of which were without closets, had lost their charm in our eyes and were quickly downgraded from cozy to tiny. It was time to renovate.

"But why renovate? The market is full of larger homes" some may ask. True, we could have sold our place and re-bought. However, by upgrading our living space, we saved ourselves nearly $20,000 in various moving costs. Moreover, we got to continue living in a neighborhood we fell in love with while remaining in familiar surroundings.

Doing renovations to increase your living space is well worth the investment. If you would like to know how to turn your underused space into something practical and functional please continue reading. Even if you have just $100 to spend we are sure you will find some tips below that will suit your budget.

$2,100 or less

To begin, let me stress that decluttering your home costs nothing and can free up a lot of room that may be better utilized than it is right now. Start by sorting all storage areas in the house, especially closets, into 3 piles. Pile one is for items you're keeping. Second pile is for things you no longer need that can be given to friends or charity. Finally, the third pile is for items that need to be thrown away or recycled. Here is a tip; if you or your family haven't used something in 3 years or more than it should go to pile 2 or 3.

Assuming you gave away pile #2 to friends/charity and disposed of pile #3, let's now focus on the main pile made up of things you want to keep. "Don't leave stuff on the floor", says Joanne Kerry of Wisconsin, advisor to "Organize every item into boxes (clear, plastic ones are best) and stack them neatly on the shelves."

Incase you lack sufficient shelving, now would be a good time to invest $200 to $800 to install some into your closets, basement and/or garage. If your house is particularly large you may have to spend a bit more. Luckily, a basic, 4' x 6' x 20" deep shelving unit sells for well under $100 at home reno stores. If you are handy, you can build your own for even less. A good organizational tip is to use the shelves during winter for summer clothes and during summer for winter gear.

Paint Your Way to More Space

Paint is your best friend have no doubts about it. For a relatively small amount of money you can create an illusion of space by cleverly "painting your house bigger." Combined with a small investment of personal time, needed to paint, you will get a big bang for your buck. In fact, no other type of home renovation offers better value.

It doesn't have to be complicated, dark rooms always seem smaller than lighter rooms. Next time you want to repaint, pick white or beige for that very reason. Just by turning the ceiling white, you can make the room look bigger. When painting the ceiling be sure to paint the crown molding also. This will create an illusion of a wider ceiling.

Our final suggestion to expand your house is to tear down a wall. Many houses have two tiny rooms running parallel, side by side to each other. Removing the wall between them should open up the area nicely. Knocking down the wall between the living room and dining room is a popular option. Similarly, removing the wall between dining room and the kitchen is also commonly done.

Before you begin, make sure it's not a load bearing wall you are modifying. Additionally, if the wall conceals pipes, wires, conduit (electrical tubing) or ductwork, you may want to reconsider since your reno could become very pricey. On the other hand, if it turns out just to be drywall and wooden studs, you can have the work done for well under $1000 in most cases. ther hand, if it turns out just to be drywall and wooden studs, you can have the work done for well under $1000 in most cases.