How to Plan a Bonus Space Conversion

So, you’ve found some extra space in your home and want to make it functional. What’s the first step? It’s important to match up your desired outcome with the existing structural conditions of your bonus room.

That starts with being realistic about what can and can’t be moved. Lally columns and girders may not be your first choices in room décor, but they’re there for a very good reason. You want to bring the house down with your wit and personality, not your home improvements.

How to Plan a Bonus Space ConversionBonus spaces are also famous for more head-banging than your son’s favorite garage band, what with the sloped ceilings and exposed pipes. And, they’re a common location for functional elements such as boilers, furnaces, water heaters, appliances and all-important shut-off valves. All will need to be serviced and eventually replaced, so don’t enclose them so well that a door or wall has to be torn out when it’s time to make the switch.

It’s also important to match the style factor with access and environmental conditions. In other words, you don’t want to find out on delivery day that the cushy new home theater couch you’ve splurged on won’t fit through the door or go down the stairs. Or find out after the first rainy day that your fluffy new carpeting has turned into the New Jersey Meadowlands.

Don’t be afraid to geek out by not only measuring for but mapping out your furnishing plan with to-scale sketches on graph paper and craft paper cutouts of your furnishings’ footprints, just for extra assurance of a happy, predictable result. Not only will this ensure that the furniture layout flows, it will help you plan for important utilities. You need a good cable connection for that big-screen TV. You’ll need a place to plug in the sound system. A wet bar is more fun, but you need to plumb the wet part. 

With the exceptions of any special rewiring or HVAC system adjustments in your bonus space, most finish and furnishing jobs are well within the reach of an experienced do-it-yourselfer. There are a range of easy-to-use products and finishing systems on the market, many of them suited specifically to the challenges and requirements of basements, garages and attics. So, with proper planning and smart shopping, your job is made easy, and the road to the grand opening of your new space is made dramatically shorter.


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