Reclaim Wasted Space: Dining Rooms, Garages, Attics and Closets(page 1 of 3)

Explore the evolution of floor plans from previous decades and gather inspiration for designing a space that fits your lifestyle.

CI-Susan-Jay-contemporary-brown-garage-living-room_s4x3 This garage was converted into a work and entertaining space. Design by Susan Jay; photography by Tom Bonner

Just like hemlines, home layouts are influenced by the tenor of the times, and subject to the whim of fashion. Whether you're thinking of repurposing one room for another use or knocking down walls to bring your outdated floor plan up to date, the trend today is to reclaim unused space so that your home is truly a reflection of what you value and how you live. Looking for ideas? Here are some outstanding projects that have turned yesterday's homes into today's havens.


Leave Your Dining Room in the Past

When was the last time you dined in your dining room? In 1978, 16 percent of meals were eaten away from home. Today, almost one-third of all meals are eaten in restaurants. Many meals that are eaten at home are eaten on the run between work, school and sports, so it's no wonder many dining rooms sit unused for months at a time. If your dining room is dusty from lack of use, consider turning the space over to another purpose: reading, crafting or telecommuting. In many cases, you won't have to do any major renovations. Just bring in the furniture you need to be comfortable at work or at leisure, and replace or supplement the central chandelier with good task lighting.

"I find that clients are becoming more open to the notion that they can break away from traditional room uses in their homes, and make them work for the way they actually live," says designer Timothy Corrigan. "We have turned living rooms into wine cellars and dining rooms into libraries. The result is that every room in the house is actually being lived in."

CI-Timothy-Corrigan-green-victorian-dining-room-no-resize_s4x3 Designer Timothy Corrigan turned this space, formerly an under-utilized dining room, into a library. The central table can be used for dining as well, on the rare occasions that the homeowners wish to do so.

Think Outside the Two-Car Garage

In the 1950s many homeowners added garages to homes that pre-dated widespread automobile ownership. With the McMansion boom of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, three- and four-car garages became increasingly popular. But for every family that wants to give their cars shelter from the storm, there's another household just as happy to leave their cars in the driveway and use the garage for additional living or working space.

CI-Bill-Fry-Construction-garage-apartment-kitchen-no-resize_s4x3 Before renovation, this garage was over 500 square feet of junk storage. Bill Fry Construction cut it down to create a 20x20-foot guest suite with its own kitchenette and bathroom and used the remaining space outdoors to install a pool.

Browse Before-and-After Pictures of Garage Remodels
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