Wasted Space to Avoid in Your Dream Home

Some fads come and go; some become classic styles. Sometimes it’s time for those once classic styles to be traded in for something more functional. Some classic home features no longer fit in modern life. These classic features often lead to wasted space in your home that serves no purpose. Wasted space includes areas of your home that don’t get used frequently, are larger than necessary, or serve no function. I’ve rounded up 5 of the largest areas of wasted space in most homes. As you search out your dream home or design and build your dream home consider avoiding these 5 wasted spaces.

wasted space to avoid

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Why should you be concerned with wasted space? Well, for one all the square footage in your home has to be heated and cooled which cost money. Additionally the spaces need to be decorated (wasted money), cleaned (wasted time), and maintained (wasted time and money). Our dream home will have over 4000 square feet. BUT we are very concerned with making sure that we have ZERO wasted space in our floor plan.

Why would you spend your hard-earned money for wasted space? Extra square footage that’s only purpose is to be empty and unused is not something you want in your dream home. So here are 5 examples of entire rooms of wasted space not to include in your dream home and how you can save up to 700 square feet of wasted space.

1) Ditch the Formal Dining Room.
Wasted Space Saved: 200 sq ft*

formal dining has wasted space
Via This Old House

Be honest. How many times per year do you use a formal dining room? I would guess most people use theirs less than once a month. Typically they are saved for holidays or other special occasions. Use that square footage instead as an extra bedroom, a home office, or a walk in pantry. Get rid of the wasted space of a formal dining room and make your space work for you

Check out this post from The Turquoise Home on turning a formal dining room into a playroom. Here’s a before and after from their tutorial:

I grew up in a house with a formal dining room.  I have no memories of utilizing this room for it’s intended purpose; eventually it became a storage room.

We have a formal dining room in our current house (a flip we moved in to temporarily). Our formal dining room serves as a junk room for now, where extra things hang out that we are saving for our dream home but don’t have a set place for in our current house.

Most homes have an eat in kitchen that can serve as your dining area. New builds are often created with one large great room that includes the dining room, family room, and kitchen all in a single giant room. The preferred set-up for dining options and to eliminate wasted space would be an all encompassing great room.

Here is a great example of a great room from Proverbs 31 Girl. You can read all about a cabin remodel she did on her site. It’s a beautiful rustic, yet inviting design.

great room no wasted space

Newer builds can opt to have larger “breakfast areas” built into the great room instead of having a completely different formal dining room. Having an open great room allows for better fellowship with guests as well. No one is hiding or waiting alone away front the hosts. Formal dining rooms are wasted space.

2) Let Go of the Formal Living Room
Wasted Space Saved: 330 sq ft*

Nearly everything said about formal dining rooms apply to formal living rooms as well. We don’t use them efficiently, they cost additional money to furnish, and they tend to collect junk instead of memories. A home with a formal dining room, formal living room, and a casual family room averages about 900 square feet dedicated to these spaces; compared 500 square feet in a great room that has all of these spaces in one room. (click here for source).

formal living room wasted space
Source: For the Love of a House

While they look beautiful, they typically don’t get much use. I don’t know about you, but my family is not fancy.  We don’t need a separate fancy room with fancy furniture to fancily sit on that just ends up collecting dust. Living rooms are basically parlors and should have been done away with once we got indoor plumbing.

Growing up, both at my house and my grandmother’s house, the ONLY time I remember using the formal living rooms were during Christmas and hide-in-seek. We always set the trees up in these spaces at Christmas.  So for 11 months of the year the formal living room sat empty so we could enjoy it for 1 month. The formal living room also held our piano – during piano practice a few hours per week it was utilized. A piano could easily be placed in another space or if used often; a formal living room could be remodeled into a music room. But it seems a bit wasteful for such a large space to only be used for piano practice and Christmas celebrations.

Don’t fall into the trap of wasted space in a formal living area.  There are many ways you could utilize that space in a more efficient way. Consider a game room, home theater, library, or music room instead depending on your families interests. There are a ton of options for remodeling formal spaces into more functional spaces or just leave them out of new home plans completely.

Check out this home theater DIY from Jenna Sue Design

home theater no wasted space

3) Forget Extravagant Foyers
Wasted Space Saved: 100 sq ft

There are houses that have foyers as large as a bedroom. Our current home has a 154 sq ft foyer, that’s about 100 sq ft more than I would prefer to sweep and mop! Large foyers are a total waste of space and also a money pit. Your foyer only needs to be large enough for a small bench and standing room for about 4 people. Any larger and you will just be looking at wasted space that honestly serves zero purpose other than to look pretty.  This one from Southern Weddings is just right.

small foyer no wasted space

Meredith Teasley Photography www.meredithteasley.com

Great rooms that blend the foyer into the room are also nice option. No need to have an entirely separate space to decorate. Just add a table and mirror on the wall with storage space underneath for shoes and such. This optimized entry way from House Tweaking is amazing, check out the link for a tutorial.

Foyer entry way no wasted space

Now if you plan to turn your foyer into a mudroom that’s a different story. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Mudroom for some design ideas and tips. Many people prefer the mudroom to be off the garage though, not the front door. So you can always have an amazing mudroom but still need to address your foyer space as well.

Due to some house designs you may have to have a small foyer area. For example, we will have a foyer because our front door will open into the middle of a hallway and without a small foyer space the design didn’t flow. But we kept it just large enough for a table against the wall with a picture frame or mirror above it. Shoes, coats, purses, etc will be placed in the mudroom off the garage entrance. Most of our guest will end up coming through the garage doors (where our driveway leads) instead of the front doors anyway.

4) Bye-bye Extra-Large Bedrooms
Wasted Space Saved: 50-100 sq ft per bedroom*

We spend 1/3 of our life sleeping. But we don’t need a large room for that! Especially for Guests or kids. You may choose a smidgen above the traditional 10×10 but there is really no need for a 16×14 guest room or nursery.  All they do is sleep in there!

There are a ton of great posts out there with ideas on how to decorate, organize, and manage small bedrooms. Here’s one from the Debrief about small bedroom hacks. Home BNC has gathered 18 of the best DIY Murphy bed how-tos to maximize small room space. Marble Buzz has 45 ideas for small bedrooms; check out the post for info on storage tips, built ins, hideaways, and other ideas for a small bedroom design like these two below.

small bedroom no wasted space

small bedroom no wasted space

We decided to splurge on our master bedroom because we are set on having a space to set up seating in our room. However, it’s not necessary and depending on your home budget you could definitely easily enjoy a master bedroom oasis in a smaller room. Designing your dream home is all about figuring out what will work for your family. Check out this post from One Kindesign on small and beautiful masters.

5) Give Up the Guest Room
Wasted Space Saved: 150 sq ft*

Hear me out. For some of you guest rooms are wasted space, for others they may be well utilized. Be honest with yourself. If you only have someone using your guest room a couple of weeks per year it’s not an efficient use of space.  Consider turning it into a multi-use room by combing guest bedrooms with home office or a home gym. Little Victorian has this awesome home office/guest room combo below.

office bedroom combo no wasted space

We absolutely have to have an extra bedroom due to nearly all our family living out of state. We average about 3 months total of guests staying in our home. However, when no-one is staying at our house I still plan to utilize this space.  My dream is to have a Murphy bed in the guest room so I can use it as a home gym for the majority of the year.  I use free weights, resistance bands, DVDs, and a stationary bike at home. So I don’t need a ton of equipment space in the room but I will need enough room for a yoga mat and to be able to do a full burpee without hitting furniture. Reena Sotropa has an awesome home gym/bedroom combo in her portfolio.

home gym bedroom combo no wasted space

This Murphy Bed would work great in a home gym or home office:

murphy bed no wasted space

*Wasted space saved estimates were all obtained from the National Association of Home Builders.  They are just estimates and could be more or less depending on the size of the home.

Bonus Idea: Wasted Space Under Stairs

There are many other areas in your home that can become wasted space. A popular wasted space area people have started turning into useful and functional spaces is underneath stair cases. Consider using under stair space as storage, a bathroom, a dog kennel, or a mini playroom.

no wasted space under stairs

Via Level Building Projects

no wasted space bath under stairs

Via Well-Made Heart

no wasted space under stairs

Via Ethan Abramson

no wasted space under stairs

Via Thrifty & Chic

A quick search on Pinterest will give you ideas for extra shelving in closets, making use of awkward corners, or installing shelving between wall studs. You can maximize space in your kitchen by installing baseboard drawers or use the space above your staircase for a playroom. The ideas and possibilities are endless. Aim to utilize all the wasted space in your home. Drop a note in the comments to let us know your wasted space turned functional tips!

wasted space to avoid

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