I have renovated and added to my own home for many reasons, including the fact I hated the existing kitchen.  I added a porch  and a bedroom because I love porches and  my oldest daughter needed a room of her own.  Many people renovate a home because no one thought to incorporate light or views in the original design.  Sometimes the existing home is outdated, dark, too small, poorly laid out, or all of the above.

In any case, some of the additions/renovations, which our clients and we have found to have the greatest impact for the dollar, are as follows:

1.  Kitchen and Breakfast Room

The kitchen is the heart of most homes.  No matter how hard we try to direct family and friends to other parts of the house, they always come back to the kitchen.  A breakfast area or bay window is a natural accompaniment to the kitchen.  Again, this is the opportunity to increase the light and views in a part of the house where we spend a lot of time.

Grossman Kit Toward Barn

Renovated Kitchen

2.  Master Bath/Master Suite

My master bath had low ceilings and was poorly heated, so when we renovated it, we included tall ceilings and radiant floor heat, there is now a huge difference in the way we feel about a room we use every day.  The same is true when our clients renovate an entire master suite.

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Master bedroom

Mstr Bath

Master Bath

3.  Porch

One of the additions, which provides the most impact for the least cost, is a porch.  I can’t wait for the spring when I can drink my morning coffee on my porch and sip a glass of wine in the evening with my wife,  listening to our favorite music while swinging on the porch swing.  You can include  many bells and whistles on a porch or make it quite simple, either way they are a lot of fun.

Werther Porch

Renovated Porch

4.  Family Room/Sun room

A family gathering space can come in many forms.  A sun drenched room with a fireplace in midwinter is a great place to spend time with both family and friends.  In the summer all the windows can be opened to create a very nice screened porch.

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Sun Room Addition

5. Basement Renovation

Not everyone’s basement can be made into livable space.  My basement would be better as a root cellar(which is probably what is was) or a place for bears to hibernate.  But for those lucky people who have dry, warm, basements that you can walk around in without hitting your heads, we have some fun ideas.  We have turned basements into home theaters, wine cellars, recreation rooms, home gyms, and even a pub.  There is virtually no limit to the ways a basement can be used.

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Wine Cellar

6. Garage/Studio/Guest Bedroom

While a separate garage with living space above is not technically part of a home, the overflow space and storage created can help  the rest of your home work better.  When building a garage there is real economy in adding useful space above  since you already will have a roof and foundation.  Plumbing and mechanical systems can be added at a later date if you want to phase the expense.

Schaad Garage Overall Copy

Garage/Guest House

About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

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