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How to change your floor plan to suit your lifestyle

We’ve all done it – chosen a home that we thought would be perfect for us and then wondered “What were we thinking?” Here are three tips for altering your floor plan to make your home work for you.

1.     Don’t start knocking out walls

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This is a big mistake if the wall happens to be load-bearing. Even if it isn’t, it can be more expensive to remove a wall than you think. Not only will you need to cover up the gap around your ceiling, walls and often your floor, but you’ll need to consolidate the larger space you find yourself with. You’ll probably need to repaint and re-carpet. And many people find the space isn’t as useful as they imagined. We recommend you get an expert – that is, your local Fix It Renovations owner – in to provide practical insights and ideas.


2.     Transform One Room into Two

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If you’ve got the reverse problem – a big open space that you would prefer to divide into two or more for privacy and functionality – don’t think it’s always easier. In the situation shown in the photo above, they divided the room with a simple framed wall. Simple, you might think, but there was more to it than that. They had to build in another door for access to the second room, two more windows, and more electric lighting and power points. But the end result was worth it – they transformed the house from three to four bedrooms and added around $100,000 to its value.

An alternative to building a permanent wall is to install a moveable partitioning system to separate the spaces, but then have the flexibility to open it up when you need to. There are plenty of brilliant partitioning systems on the market.


3.         Alter the kitchen


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In a lot of older homes, kitchens can be big and clunky with lots of wasted space. They can also be cut off from the rest of the house. By gutting the room, restructuring to create a better work triangle and adding more usable storage, you may be able to reduce your kitchen’s floorspace and extend your dining area or other adjacent space. Using an island or breakfast bar instead of a solid wall can open up your living area, too.


4.         Bring the outdoors in

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Even if you can’t realistically make better use of the space you have, opening up the exterior of your home with French doors or bifolds and a deck or flowing outdoor area can make it look bigger and give you better indoor/outdoor flow. See also “Build up, under or out” below.


5.         Transform your garage into living space

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Whether you have a built-in or separate garage, many Kiwis are transforming them into extra living space, a guest or homestay bedroom, a workshop, home office or studio. In our case, our garage made a great family room until our eldest decided to move back home but needed his own space. We’re hoping that one day we’ll get it back so we can turn it into a home theatre.


6.         Add another bathroom

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Often in New Zealand homes built twenty or more years ago, there’s only one bathroom, which can add stress in even larger homes. The simple solution is to add another bathroom but the inevitable problem is, where? We’ve become experts at thinking outside the box on this one. We’ve pushed out walls, transformed wardrobes and converted laundries and storerooms. If all else fails, you can move the hot water cylinder and put in an extra toilet in its place. We love a challenge – just give us a call.



7.         Use a nook or cranny

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Almost every house has them, and many older homes have loads of them. Even when you don’t have the luxury of a completely separate room for an office, sewing area or storage space, you can usually find somewhere ingenious to tuck them.


8.        Build up, down or out

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When all else fails, the best way to gain more space is to go up into your ceiling cavity and develop your attic or down below and develop a basement. If those are no-go’s, the only remaining option is to build out with an extension. All of these can be expensive, but often the additional living area justifies the cost. Talk to your local Fix It Renovations owner about the cost/benefit aspects.

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