Earlier this year my wife and I decided to stay put in our current home. Now we are in the “how can we make this work” mode where you walk room to room with the realization that you will be here for a while, and the chances of building or buying a new home with all your needs will sit on the back burner for a while. Here are a few ideas for making the existing space around our home more productive. We’ve already implemented a couple of these items, and the remaining ones are on our to-do list.
Ways To Make Spaces Around Your Home More Productive
Convert spare bedrooms, garages or back porches to a home gym.
Our neighbors recently closed in a garage and added some gym-quality exercise equipment. They now have a full squat rack, Smith machine, an elliptical machine, bike and treadmill. To say I was a little jealous would be a major understatement. I’ve always wished I could lift weights at home, mostly because I don’t care for the social setting at most gyms. While I don’t think I’ll be able to close in the garage, I could put a weight bench with a bench press rack on the back porch. I could also add a small set of dumbbells, a used exercise bike (for rainy days), and a heavy bag.
Create a home office with just a feet of empty wall space.
When I started writing here at Frugal Dad, I recognized quickly that I would need to carve out a quiet area to do most of my writing. My requirements were simple: a door, enough room for a table to hold my laptop and a few notepads, magazines, books, etc. Finding a spot with a door proved to be the hard part. That is, until I got creative.
Our washer and dryer are in a large utility room. We have a rolling metal rack in there to hold canned goods, along with a spare freezer to store meats and vegetables we occasionally find on sale and stock up on. The room may have looked full to the “unfrugal” eye, but I saw an opportunity.
I set up a four-foot folding table and small rolling task chair with no arms. My laptop, a small lamp, a couple bookends to hold five or six of my favorite books, and a scratch pad for making notes all fit perfectly on the table. The chair easily pushes up to the table, and is out of the way when doing laundry.
Plant vegetables in a table top, square foot garden on your balcony or porch.
Who says you have to have a ton of green space to grow a beautiful garden? Consider building a square foot garden, or planting in containers, on your balcony or other outdoor space. I had a friend who grew beautiful tomatoes and a variety of other salad vegetables on his balcony. Before dinner, his wife would pluck a few tomatoes to slice and eat along with their meals. She also maintained a variety of herbs and flowers.
Turn your formal dining room into a den, study or playroom.
How often to you eat dinner in your formal dining room? If you are like us, probably not that often. Maybe a few times a year we gather there to host Thanksgiving dinner, or a similar occasion. But, for the most part it sits empty as a placeholder for our dining table, chairs and hutch. Consider converting this space to a den, a playroom for the kids, or perhaps a study or home office (the latter may require adding a door or two).
One word of caution: I once pitched the idea of replacing the dining table with a pool table. I was half kidding (only half), but let’s just say it didn’t go over very well.
Create a reading and meditation nook.
I’ve frequently heard this advice, but it really stuck when listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer once describe how everyone should have a little “nook” where they can go to get lost in their thoughts. It could be as simple as a quiet corner of a bedroom, or as large as an unused guest room. The point is to create a quiet corner in your home, surrounded by things with positive energy such as pictures, drawing, motivational posters, etc.
When thinking about rearranging your home, keep in mind that any configuration changes you make may not be desirable to future homeowners. Unless you plan to stay put forever, think long and hard about knocking down (or adding) any walls, hanging doors, etc. For the most part, consider enchancements to your home’s space that do not require any structural modifications. But don’t be afraid to get creative, and don’t be afraid to make the space work for you and your family. After all, homes are meant to be lived in.