How to add space to your home without adding square footage

Richard Taylor
September 17, 2012

Space is something our culture can't seem to stop talking about – office space, parking space, even personal space – it's everywhere, but it seems we always want more.

And while the culture is changing, too many of us still automatically equate "more" with "better." It's something I see frequently in my practice as an architect — homeowners considering a remodeling or addition project often assume that "more space" is the solution.


But is it? Adding more space doesn't always solve problems in an existing home, and sometimes creates more. Rethinking and replanning existing space can often result in much better living spaces – for far less money and hassle than adding on.

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A great example is the project in the before and after floor plans below. This cool little contemporary home sits up above a river, with views of the water below (towards the top on the plan drawings).

A closed-in kitchen that blocked views of the water, an awkward L-shaped living room, no utility storage, and too much space devoted to the "den" were robbing the owners of a comfortable daily life in their home.

They wanted a new kitchen, pantry, mudroom, office, much better living space, and better views of the river.  With so much on their wish list, it'd be natural to think that adding on would help.

Yet a close study of the house revealed that the problem wasn't a lack of space, it was lack of well-planned space. So here's what we did to get this home working the way it should, without adding a single new square inch.

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The den was pushed towards the back of the house, freeing up space for a coat closet, mudroom shelving, and large pantry. That allowed us to move the kitchen towards the right side – which opened up the family room.

The dining area stayed where it was, but with a low bookshelf separating it from the family room (see the perspective view below). Partial removal of the wall between the dining room and stair opened the floor plan even more – and allowed us to design a new railing that matched the character of the existing woodwork.

The result is an open, comfortable living space that seems much bigger than it is and is packed with storage and practicality.

More open space, more livability, more comfort, more storage … hmm, maybe more is better!

Richard Taylor is a residential architect based in Dublin, Ohio and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with him at

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.