InspirationUsing your space

Make the most of existing space without extending

We’d all love to have more space at home – for a study, guest bedroom, dressing room, playroom or home gym. However, while an extension is a good option for most, there are some properties that remain stubbornly un-extendable or don’t have enough outside space. Fortunately, there’s another option that isn’t moving and that’s making the most of the space you already have. By rethinking your rooms, you could transform your home and add value. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Convert your loft

If your loft is stuffed with junk, it’s time to have a clear out to see if it’s suitable for converting. First, check if there’s enough head height – you’ll need at least 220cm at the highest point (leaving 190cm of headroom when the floor and roof are insulated). Less head height doesn’t make a loft conversion impossible, as you can raise the roof, but this is a costlier option and will require planning permission.


Image source: Velux

Next, see if there are any obstacles, such as a water tank or chimney breast, which again may make your project more expensive or challenging. Ideally, you should be able to add a roof window, which will make it a brighter, more welcoming space. Then you can turn it into whatever type of room you need – extra bedrooms or bathrooms will add value, but it could also be a home office or second living room. Speak to a local loft conversion specialist for advice and info about relevant building regulations.

Repurpose a garage

It’s almost gratuitous to have all that lovely space for your car, or an Aladdin’s cave of paint cans and power tools. As well as being a project that can be carried out with minimum disruption to everyday life, if the garage is already watertight with stable walls and floors, it’ll also be cost-effective (structural repairs will push up the price). Attached or integrated garages that can be accessed from your house will make the project even easier. Detached garages may require planning permission, and both will need building regulations approval as its usage is being changed.


Image source: Anglian Home Improvements

A builder specialising in garage conversions will be able to advise you. Try and fit in plenty of windows (so it feels more like an extension of living space), raise the floor in line with the rest of your home so you don’t have to step down into it, and think about the most natural way to access it – this may not be from the front.

Read more: how to create more space without moving

Create an en-suite

Inspired by hotels, en-suites are a great way to achieve everyday luxury at home. The most common ways to realise the space are by portioning off part of a master bedroom, or taking it from an adjoining bedroom. It’s unlikely that you’ll need planning permission but again, the work must meet building regulations, usually for drainage and ventilation.


Image source: Twyford

Talk to a plumber about what’s possible. As the en-suite will be next to your bedroom, it’s a good idea to choose WCs with quiet flushing, low-level sensor lights so you can use it at night without waking up your partner, and some overhead or wall lighting if there isn’t the option of a window.

Turn a cupboard into a cloakroom

Once you start looking around your home for underused space, you’ll be surprised at how much can be turned into something more liveable. Large cupboards or the space under your staircase is ripe for refitting as a cloakroom with a short-projection WC, compact basin and slimline furniture. The key is to plan it so there’s sufficient space in front of the basin and WC to stand without bumping your head (it requires less space directly above the WC as you only need sitting height) and to make sure access is easy with folding or sliding doors, or a door that opens outwards. As it’s such a small room it usually won’t need heating, just power for lighting and ventilation if required.


Image source: Ideal Standard

For more advice on making the most of the space you already have, check out our guide to utilising your space to the max.

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