What To Do With That Unused Room?

Most existing homes today have a layout that doesn’t quite match your lifestyle. It’s like a square peg in a round hole. There’s a kitchen, a dining room, a foyer and two living rooms. Your realtor probably referred to them as the 'living room' and the 'family room'. Most people don’t actually use both rooms, they just choose the one that’s more convenient.

Then there's the dining room. You know, the one with the table and chairs set you spent too much money on and it barely even gets used at Thanksgiving? 

We’ve got some eye-opening data that will make you think twice about letting that room sit idle. Do you know how much each room in your house costs you? Keep reading to find out. Also we’ll give you 4 ideas to get you thinking about how to flip that room into a thing of beauty.

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The Root of the Issue

Before the rise of the open floor plan, houses were generally sectioned off by room type. A portion of that was due to construction limitations, but mostly it was just a cheaper way to build. What these layouts are missing is the empathy side of the equation. How are people actually going to use this space? How are they going to host and entertain their families and friends?

All these rooms are usually too small to host a big group and are disconnected from all the other common spaces. You probably said something like, 'oh this is going to be myyy reading room!' Yea, for all those books you've been meaning to read for years. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good non-fiction, but rarely do I actually find a quiet place to read. It usually happens where I'm sitting at the moment, whether it be the couch, out on the patio or in the bedroom. These three places are where you'll find me at our place, and I'm guessing you have a similar schedule.  

What I'm getting at is that I think we all can use that extra room in a more useful way. Just to spark the conversation, what if I could put a dollar amount to how much that unused room is costing you? Well I can, and here's how.

Do the Math

  1. Take a tape measure and measure out the length and width of that room. Multiply those two numbers together to get the total area (remember this from math class?) or otherwise known as the square footage of the room. Now, take that number and divide it by the total square footage of your home. For instance, say the room is 15’x15’, which is 225 square feet. Divide that by your total home square footage, say 2,500. So that extra room is .09 or 9% of your total home square footage.  
  2. Next, add up your monthly mortgage payment, all your monthly utilities and the monthly home insurance premium. The average monthly mortgage payment in the U.S. is $1,061, the total average monthly utility bills are $393, and the average monthly property insurance premium is $63. In total, the average homeowner in America is paying $1,517 per month to operate a home.
  3. Ok, now take $1,517 x .09 for a total of $136.53 per month, or rather $1,638.36 per year. And that's just using the average household in the U.S.! It costs you $1,638.38 a year to have a room in your home that you don't even use! Think about that over ten-year period, that’s $16,383.80 invested in that unused room!

Create a Plan

When you decide that it’s time to remodel that unused family room, living room or dining room, here are four tips to think about before you swing any hammer.

  • Look at your whole house holistically. Are there walls in this room that could be removed to open up the space to the kitchen, living or dining room?
  • Is there a way to add a doorway to provide a connection to other parts of the house which would increase circulation into the space and thereby make it more usable?
  • What if you did the reverse and closed it off to make it an additional bedroom or office?
  • What if you brought up that pool table that collects dust in the basement to create an entertainment space on the first floor where your guests could hang out in the kitchen, living room and new pool table room while all being within earshot of each other? Then it’s not a detached party with half of the guests in the basement and the other half upstairs.

I want you to be able to optimize your house so it fits your lifestyle. So many people today think the only option to solving the ‘I need a bigger house’ question in their home is to do an addition or move. Sometimes, it is the right choice. But at the same time, I would venture to say that there’s a lot of creative ways to solve a space crisis in your home by thinking holistically and remodeling what’s already existing.

Design is more than just finishes and colors. It's strategy and planning and thinking through how real humans use real spaces. We design beautiful homes, but we also focus on making sure it's functional, usable, and unique to you. If you're looking to build a new home or remodel an existing, we're here to help! To get in touch, click here.