Making the Most of Every Corner

In Hawaii, space is at a premium.  A postage stamp size yard comes with a high price tag.  In Wellman, Iowa the average price of a home is just over $100,000 while in Kihei, Hawaii, it will cost around $540,000.  When we moved here we absolutely wanted to live close to work, so that eliminated some of the areas that were relatively more affordable.

When we moved into our home on Maui, our kids were 6, 10, and 11.  A three bedroom home seemed like it would work well.  The girls could share space and all would be fine.  We forgot that they would grow.

I’m 5′ 4″ and both girls are suddenly looking down at me and declaring that their shared 9’x12′ room just isn’t quite big enough anymore.  Since adding on to our home isn’t an option, it was time to get creative.  The first step involved a trip back in time to the college days.  The Loft.  We lucked out with 9 ft ceilings in the girl’s bedroom, which meant we could build up.  IMG_6422My incredibly handy husband built this great loft in their room and included book shelves along the edge.  They serve a dual purpose since I was a little worried about them falling 6 ft to the floor, and in our home of bibliophiles, there is NEVER enough book space.  IMG_6425This solved part of the problem, but even then, two young ladies trying to get all their school work done in the same room just wasn’t working out so well.  One likes to sing at the top of her lungs while doing math, and the other likes it perfectly quiet.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  What to do when every space in the house is already serving several functions?  Move out to the garage. 

Our garage does not have a beautiful history.  It mostly stores surf boards, the bus, and a wide range of art projects that will probably never be finished.  When my sister-in-law comes to visit with her 9 kids, it doubles as the teen boy bedroom.   This is fairly normal in Hawaii as many garages are not actually used as a garage.  They become guest rooms, living rooms, and, as in our case, office space.  Here’s how we turned this boring corner of the garage into a great study area for Miss M.IMG00140-20101119-1207

We spent about $300 on this project, mostly for the shelves.  A wireless doorbell was added to call Miss M up for meals since sound doesn’t travel well from the rest of the house.  A coat of paint, a bunch of carpet that was taken out of the upstairs, and a few repurposed items from another room had the area starting to look fairly inviting.


Emma is happy because no-one glares at her when she’s belting it out with her iPod, and Miss M is happy to have a quiet corner that SHE gets to decorate and call her very own.

How have you created more functional space in your home?

2 thoughts on “Making the Most of Every Corner

  1. Looking good, Miss M! We added storage by putting racks on the garage ceiling for storage, adding custom shelving for holiday decorations in the garage, cutting a door into the dead space under the stairs to our 2nd story and putting double racks in all of the closets. But that just scratches the surface of all the handy little “storage” solutions we’ve done. Storage comes at a premium for certain here in Hawaii!!

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