Space Case: Customize Your Home’s Spaces to Your Lifestyle

Make the most of your home by customizing your spaces to your lifestyle.

| November/December 2011

Architect David Maurer was recently asked to draw plans for an addition to the house of a Raleigh, North Carolina, couple who wanted a larger eat-in kitchen to replace their tired, cramped model. Upon careful examination of Fred and Catharine Staleys’ home and needs, Maurer steered them in another direction: instead of adding on, why not reconfigure existing space?

The Staleys bought into his vision by moving the laundry room from the kitchen to the upstairs, expanding the breakfast room to accommodate all meals (including holiday feasts) and transforming the existing formal dining room into a his-and-hers home office. It didn’t hurt that nixing the addition shaved $75,000 off of the original $100,000 estimate. “It was a no-brainer when we looked at the numbers,” Fred says.

Until the recent downturn, adding on almost always made economic sense. “It was all about resale,” Maurer says. Today, with a sluggish housing market, additional square footage does not necessarily translate into enhanced salability. As new house size shrinks and family budgets are stretched thin, reconfiguring what you already have has become the go-to remodeling option. Not only does working inside your existing footprint generally save money up front, but smaller homes are cheaper to heat, cool, furnish and maintain. What’s more, with the installation of energy-efficient appliances, water-saving plumbing fixtures, and high-performance insulation and windows, most remodels double as state-of-the-art greenovations.

Reconfigure It Out

If you’re thinking about reworking your space, begin by analyzing how you really live in your home. Walk through with a notebook and a critical eye. Does anyone ever use the formal living room? Is the basement game room twice the size it needs to be? Does everyone always seem to be in the kitchen? Look for high-use zones that call for enhancement and underperforming areas that could better serve your needs.

Don’t avoid customizing your space by trying to second-guess the resale market. “A lot of people are hesitant to do something that might be too particular and rob themselves of enjoying a restorative lifestyle in their own home,” says architect Matthew Schoenherr, author of Remodel: Great Home Makeovers from Connecticut to California. Unless you’re moving out next month, allow yourself a home suited to your own needs and desires. Once you determine your priorities, you can start on your creative remix. We’ve compiled a few ideas to help inspire you, but the possibilities are endless.

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