When we watch grand designs and pick up an ideal homes magazine or scroll through instagram and pinterest it's so easy to start to believe that we really need to do something major to our home.
We need a huge extension.
We need to add sliding folding doors to our back living room to open it up to the garden.
We need an open plan family room.
We need all these things, even though we didn't think we needed them before we started comparing our home to others.
I know because this is how I've felt. I bought my home dreaming of building a big extension to it that would have all the fashionable things – the wildflower meadow roof, the inside outside living, the glass box window seat, the open plan kitchen with sociable island unit, the large masterbedroom with ensuite wetroom.
All these things are possible with my home because I bought a home that has that potential.
But I've realised that I don't really need all of that. Because I've upgraded my home in other ways and I've made it work for me without needing a large extension.
If you don't need to extend why go through the expense and hassle?!
My kitchen is too small and at some point I will extend to resolve that, but I've reconfigured the space I have and curated it so it's a comfortable dining kitchen and the space is elegantly efficient.
This tendency we have for comparing ourselves and our homes to others is natural. We are social creatures and we measure our own self worth against what we see as normal in the world.
It's so easy to get caught up in feeling like you need something because you are being shown all these seductive images and these ideas that seem so appealing.
The way to overcome this is to look within before you look without.
To really know if you do need and want an extension then you have to look at your own life and home and see if you are being defined and restricted by the space you have or not.
The main tell tale sign that you do need to extend your home is if there is not enough room to live as you wish.
Here are some examples...
If you want to be able to cook with the kids and get them started on a journey of independence and being able to boil themselves an egg, then you need a kitchen that is big enough for you and them to be in together.
If you do not have enough space in your kitchen to share the space safely then you need a bigger kitchen. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to extend your house, as you may be able to allocate more space to your kitchen or reconfigure the kitchen units to be able to make more of the space you have.
If you want to enjoy hosting a movie night with your friends but there's not enough space in your living room for everyone to have a comfortable seat and see the screen then you need to reconfigure or enlarge the space.
If your kids don't have the space to do their homework, hang out with their friends or get away from their siblings. Perhaps the space isn't big enough or the way the space is allocated isn't working.
When you feel like you don't have enough space you can test this out.
The three things you can try first are to
Curating your space is the easiest, cheapest and quickest option. Though as anyone who has struggled to declutter will know it's not always that easy.
I have slight hoarder tendencies so I find this actually quite hard to do but I've found techniques that work for me and basically you need to find a way to make it fun and simply get started by setting a time to do it.
I teach you how to curate your space by applying the principles from the 5 Love Languages in my Create Your Loveable Home mini-course. You can get a taster for how to do this with my 5 Hot Tips to Love Your Home here: https://i-architect.activehosted.com/f/4
Repurposing your space can involve some mental gymnastics because it takes looking at your space and using your rooms for different purposes.
I've done this many times with my own home as I've switched bedrooms around, who sleeps were, and changed my office and dining room to a hobby and music room, and moved my office into a bedroom.
Often we place our sofa where the previous owners placed theirs and use the house in the same way as they did. But we don't have to do that. You can have your masterbedroom downstairs if you want to. You can share your bedroom with your kids if you want to. How you use the space in your home is up to you and if it doesn't work the way you're using it now, why not try switching it up?!
Rearranging your space is about how you place your furniture. While your repurposing of rooms may mean that you move your bed and the sofa to different rooms, then you need to decide how that furniture fits into the space you have and gives you the room to move around it to do what you need to.
As a child I used to get up in the middle of the night to rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. I'd push the wardrobe over to the opposite wall, turn the bed 90 degrees, pull in a chair from the dining room, and a few nights later move it about all over again. When I found a layout I was happy with it would stay for a while until for whatever reason it didn't feel right and I wanted the space to work differently. For example what I was studying for exams I pushed my bed into the corner to have more floor space to spread out my papers and do daily workouts.
If your home isn't working for you try these three steps to check if it's because you need more space or if you need to use the space you have differently. To get the Create Your Loveable Home mini-course and try curating your space in a new and inspiring way click this link: Www.i-architect.co.uk/loveablehome
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Jane Leach, principal architect at i-architect