How to Make a Small Home Bigger

Are you thinking that you need a bigger home? Perhaps your current home has become a giant storage unit. I worked with a gal who was moving because she said her home had become too small. Thing is, it wasn’t too small. It was TOO FULL.

Here’s the actual inventory of her furniture: three beds, two bedside tables, three dressers, a sofa, loveseat and recliner, two end tables and a coffee table, a futon in the finished basement, two TVs, and a dining room table with four chairs. The problem was the rest of her STUFF.

Unspoken Truth #1: What she didn’t yet know: at this rate, any new home would be “too small” in a couple of years. She would continue buying and keeping, so her new home would fill quickly. Why make a decision about something when we can carry it to the basement or shove it into a closet?

In the grand scheme of things, the cost to move across town isn’t much. It’s the costs AFTER the move that add up. For instance, you might need window treatments so the neighbors don’t glimpse you in your birthday suit. Thing is, we rarely stop at window treatments. We need new décor for our new digs, especially if this home is larger. That extra bedroom we wanted for guests will need a bed. Our hand-me-down dining set went to the curb at the last place, so now we’re furniture shopping.

We also want hardwoods on the main floor instead of carpet, and a fully-enclosed fence for the dog, and this home has neither. Maybe the sellers took the refrigerator, so now we need to purchase one, fast. No biggie. They’re one-time purchases.

The new home costs more, though, so our mortgage payment is higher. The taxes are higher, too. So is the insurance. More space also requires more energy to heat and cool it.

Far be it from me to suggest you don’t need a bigger home, though. It’s how I earn a living, after all. I’m just thinking out loud here. The added guest room will be important when mom visits for three months to help after the baby arrives. Having a dedicated office with a door is important now that your job has permanently become work-from-home.

Unspoken Truth #2: If we buy a bigger house because we need more storage space, we’ve allowed our stuff to force a major life decision. Our stuff owns us, rather than the other way around. Essentially, our home has become a lovely but very expensive storage unit.

The alternative is to purge our storage spaces—the garage, closets, and cabinets, then offload random and redundant items that haven’t seen the light of day for years. If we must re-purchase something at a later date because we do, in fact, need it again, we’re money ahead in the long run, especially if we don’t have a monthly storage unit payment.

Unspoken Truth #3: We live in five rooms: bedroom, TV room, kitchen, bathroom, and what I call “an escape room.” The rest of our home has rooms we rarely use, filled with items we rarely need. We keep it all because we can. There’s always a place to stash it. Until there isn’t.

Moving for more storage space seems logical. Renting a storage unit is another solution, but it means we’re “re-buying” everything in it each month we make our rent payment. The stuff we rarely need or use becomes the most expensive stuff we own.

Unspoken Truth #4: If we move and take it all, we might promise ourselves that we’ll go through it all later, after we settle in. But we won’t. It was too big a job before the move. It’ll still be a big job “later.” Besides, there’s no rush because there’s plenty of space for it all. Over time, we’ll believe our myths for keeping everything: “The kids might want it.” Or, “It belonged to someone important who has passed, so we must keep it.” Or, “We might need it.” Among others.

Unspoken Truth #5: We will eventually want to downsize. We’ll close off vents and doors to an entire second floor, and try to manage the spider population in the abandoned basement rec area. We’ll have far too much stuff to downsize without first experiencing a lot of anxiety. What to do with everything we’ve accumulated? We’re still telling ourselves we might need it. Or the kids might want it. Or we can’t get rid of it because it belonged to someone important who has passed.

The Real Truth? We are each on the same path. 95% of everything we own in our lifetime ends up with strangers or in a landfill. After all, we’re not buried in pyramids.

There’s a show on HGTV called “Love It or List It.” A designer and real estate agent compete to make a conflicted couple happy (one wants to move, the other doesn’t). The designer works with a budget to redo the current house to meet a “must-have” list. Meanwhile, the agent shows the couple other move-in-ready homes that already have the “must-have” features. In the end, the couple either stays with the redone house or opts for one of the houses they saw. They either Love It, or List It.

So, this is what I propose: If you love your home but need more from it, discover ways it might be repurposed before you put a sign in the yard. What could it hurt to have a fresh set of eyes on it? Having worked in over 9,000 homes, I’ve seen some pretty amazing solutions that, in the end, could provide what you want. The saved cash could fund your other dreams that require sizeable chucks of cash. What would they be? Trip to Africa? A sabbatical? Start your own business? Perhaps your dream is a house on some land, or at the lake, with a boat. What if you could be living your dream life NOW instead of someday, because you chose a road less traveled? Life is short after all. Ten years will have passed in the blink of an eye.

Unspoken Truth #6: The years of raking in the high salary are short and not guaranteed. No one wants to think that way, but that’s what I’ve seen play out over and over. We then take stock, look at how “the big house”—and everything in it, all used to be money. I’ve staged these houses over and over, the massive piles sold for pennies or donated to charity.

So yes, while we’re chatting about your house, we can chat about the abundance of stuff. I have some incredibly useful tools for hacking away at the “overwhelming-ness” of it all. It’s painless, fast and truly transformational work, chock-full with “ah-ha” moments that you can use for the rest of your life.

Our stuff is supposed to support our life. Not the other way around.

What is your dream life, and how is your home supporting it? Let’s talk about it. Now. Get started now by downloading your FREE Dreamsheet: What Your 80-Year-Old-Self Wants You to Know.

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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