No More Space? Steal These Square Footage-Stretching Tips From 'Love It or List It'

'Love It or List It' contractor Eric Eremita goes behind a renovation that added space above and below.

Contractor Eric Eremita knows a thing or two about squeezing every square foot of usable space out of a home: He's the contractor-in-residence on HGTV's Love It or List It. (You may also recognize him from season two of Brother Vs. Brother.)  

Each week, he works with Hilary to make the homeowner fall in love with their space all over again. Many times, that means turning unfinished spaces into showstopping, useful rooms. In this house, Hilary, Eric and the crew looked up and down to expand the home's usable space. They borrowed some square footage from the attached garage to create an office, laundry room and larger kitchen, then added two bedrooms, a hangout area and a bathroom to the home's basement. The result? Almost double the utility in the same footprint. 

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Looking to optimize your home? The basement is a great place to start. "It's definitely a fantastic way to add free square footage to your home," Eric says. Get Eric's tips to avoid common basement reno pitfalls and create a space that's anything but dark and dingy. 

Dry it out. Water can be a big problem in many basements, but the right prep work can prevent further issues. "If water comes up through the concrete slab, install a French drain system around the perimiter of the house," Eric says. Damp basement? Add insulation and an HVAC system to keep it dry. 

Pick the right flooring. "If your basement is prone to dampness, stay away from carpeting and consider vinyl or tile flooring," Eric says. Add area rugs atop the hard-surfact floors to add softness to your new space. 

Upgrade electrical outlets. Often, there aren't enough electrical outlets in a basement to support rooms full of electronics. The soultion? "Upgrade electric service with another breaker box to handle the basement separately," Eric says. (Unless you have electrical experience, this is a job for a licensed electrician.)  

Avoid low ceilings with smart space planning. "When you are having new HVAC installed, run the trunk lines around the perimeter of the room instead of in the center," Eric says. This will give you the highest possible ceiling in the center of the room, and "look like a designer option instead of a DIY gone wrong," he says.

Brighten with paint. To make your basement bright and light (even with limited or no windows,) just add paint! "The easiest and cheapest way is to paint your walls and ceiling bright and airy colors," Eric says.  

Lighting is key! Add recessed lighting in every new room that you create, he says, and maybe some decorative sconces in the primary hangout space. "Be generous with lighting; you can always install dimmers to dim bright lights," Eric says. "You will never feel like your in the basement when it's comfy-cozy." 

Don't forget the closets! "Closets, closets, closets!! You can never have enough storage," Eric says. Ample storage space will make your newly-renovated space feel even larger and more useful. 

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