Monday, January 14, 2008

How to Get More Value From Your Home

There's a simple mathematical formula that will help you calculate the hidden value in your home. Divide your mortgage or annual lease by the total square footage in your home and use that value to calculate the cost of your living room, dining room or other underutilized rooms.

''You may be spending thousands of dollars for space that you use only twice a year,'' says Standolyn Robertson, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and owner/founder of Things In Place, an organizing consulting company in Massachusetts. You can increase the value of each room by finding new uses for the space.

Myscha Theriault, a personal finance and home-living blogger at, knows the value of space. After relocating from Arizona, Theriault and her husband David -- a retired military man -- moved into a small New England cottage, a temporary home until their permanent house is built. Faced with limited space, Theriault developed several tricks for expanding her living quarters.

Use the restaurant model. Vertical wire shelves and racks popular in industrial kitchens can serve several functions in homes. In her cottage, Theriault uses vertical shelves in the kitchen, entertainment area, bathroom and on a porch.

Experiment with lofts. Medium-density fiberboard, plywood and other affordable materials can be used to build a platform, stage or bilevel lofts in an attic, bedroom or garage. Raised platforms can create a teen hangout, entertainment zone, craft work space or storage for sports equipment.

Forget room titles. ''If you're stuck on labels, you're losing a lot of available space,'' Robertson says. A formal living room, for example, can double as a home library or rehearsal room for family musicians. Likewise, a buffet credenza in a dining room can serve as a work space for a home office during non-meal hours. When it's time to set the table, tuck office supplies into decorative baskets.

This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere! , which will be published in the Spring of 2008 by DPL Press.

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