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How to Turn an Almost-Perfect Place Into Your Perfect Place

There’s a saying that “close only counts in horseshoes,” but we argue that “close” can also work during the house hunt. Especially in a fast-moving market, checking nearly all of the boxes on your home-shopping wishlist can be a major success. After all, just about every house comes with some quirks. From funky layouts to questionable design choices from past homeowners, one of the joys of homeownership is having the chance to turn those quirks into charms.

All you need is a little inspiration as you browse home listings—conquering a common challenge could be the key to turning an almost-perfect home into an entirely perfect one. As a bonus, you get some bragging rights to use when you tell future guests about the before and after!

If the home is older than you…

There is undeniable charm with older homes. Still, the fact is that homes built in the last century don’t always accommodate modern needs. Short of tearing down walls and doing a major renovation, you can quickly bring the functionality of your home up to date by using a critical eye with the space. Just because a room was “intended” for one use doesn’t mean that you need to use it that way. For example, you can turn the infrequently used dining room into a play area for the kids. Then add eat-in seating to the kitchen and—voila!—everyone is happy.

Another fast update is adding smart-home devices, which can almost instantly improve the convenience of managing your home as well as its overall safety.

If you need to get creative with multiple WFH spaces…

Getting one dedicated office is a big bonus for many homebuyers. Getting two dedicated offices? That may take a little bit more imagination. Not only are a growing number of workers completely remote, but internet connectivity is essential for students these days.

Working from down the hall, up the stairs, and around the corner is no problem with a Wi-Fi extender along with the router to make sure the powerful, virtually lag-free service reaches every corner of your home.

If the space is smaller than you hoped...

Making do with a smaller footprint is a matter of maximizing the space you have. Start by envisioning how rooms can take on multiple purposes: That craft or music room can speedily transform into a guest room with the addition of a Murphy bed or pull-out couch. Make a main-level space an office by day and family room by night with a rolling desk that can be quickly tucked into the corner. Or create a four-season outdoor living space by enclosing a porch or buying a propane heater for some bonus square footage.

With less horizontal square footage, making use of vertical space is another smart trick. If you’re fortunate enough to have tall ceilings, look upward to install additional shelves or cabinets. Or take to the floor and slide low-profile storage boxes under beds. By hiding items when they aren’t in use and keeping the visible areas uncluttered, the house will feel bigger than it is.

To take your expansion to the next level, really look to the next level: Can you convert an unfinished basement or attic into more living space? Depending on the existing conditions in the spaces you’re eying, this can be a relatively inexpensive renovation that can make a big difference.

If some renovations are in order…

A little paint and new carpet can go a long way toward refreshing an unpolished home in a hurry. If those cosmetic fixes aren’t quite enough and you need to call in the professionals, you’ll want to limit the disruption to your life during the construction process. Although many, many homeowners have gotten by just fine with a short-term basement kitchen thanks to help from microwaves and slow cookers, putting your work (and after-work entertainment needs) on hold while the renovation is in progress isn’t as easy.

If you need to log on during the workday when a remodel is ongoing, you might need to get creative with your office or living room space. Warmer months are ideal for major home renovations because you can expand outside the home’s four walls to a covered patio or deck.


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