Erin Hochschild and her husband, Aaron Fortner, live in a 1906 Craftsman in the heart of Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. “We love the location,” Hochschild says. But now that they have two small children, a baby and a 3-year-old, they’re feeling constrained by the home’s small size.
The house has two bedrooms — and a single bathroom. “There’s no bathroom on the first floor,” Hochschild says, which means that the kids’ bath toys and all of the family toiletries are on full display for any visitors (in pre-pandemic days).
Finding a home with more space in their price range would mean leaving the city, which they don’t want to do. “So we’re going to try to make this house work,” Hochschild says. For them, that means turning one of the bedrooms into a pair of small but separate bedrooms for the kids, plus adding an extra half-bath downstairs, which will be carved out of space that is now a porch.
Making existing homes work better is something that designers and remodelers are increasingly seeing around the region and across the nation.
“With much of the country having spent more time at home than ever, people have a vested interest in creating homes that serve them better,” Buabeng says. “[We saw] a surge in home projects — from small refreshes to large renovations — throughout 2020, and I believe this will carry well into 2021 as people continue to use their homes more and see them through a different lens.”
Many people are looking to finish attics or basements in order to create more space, says Emma Zimmerman, marketing specialist for Queen Anne-based Model Remodel.
“People are asking for the highest and lowest levels [of their homes] to become fully functional,” she says. “There are a lot of creative solutions for almost doubling the square footage by utilizing those spaces.”
Others are reaching outside the house and into open spaces to claim more room for living.
“People who can, I’m seeing more of them create an outbuilding,” says Amy Panos, home editor for Better Homes & Gardens. These spaces can be used for storage, as school or office spaces, or as a retreat from the main house.
Sacha Panko, of Kirkland, is working on just such a space for her boys, ages 5 and 2. Her family is nearly done building a shed of just under 200 square feet outside their house. She says their house is on the smaller side and includes her husband’s work-from-home space.