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How to turn an unused garage, attic or basement into your new favorite room

See how three people turned their unused space into a brand new, functional room.
Illustration of a room being transformed
if you’re not yet sold on the idea that your unused spaces could ultimately be your dream room, see three amazing transformations for inspiration.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

Has the pandemic made you crave more square footage? Before you go and buy a new house, you might be able to find some extra space in your current home.

An unused garage, attic or basement can be turned into your favorite new room with a little imagination and work. And if you’re not yet sold on the idea that any of those spaces could ultimately be your dream room, see three amazing transformations below for inspiration:

The home office that was once a garage

Image of a desk/home office in a garage.
Once a garage, this space is now a cozy and cheerful home office.Courtesy Michael Hunter

Lizzie Pincoffs who owns Lizzie Pincoffs Interiors in Austin, Texas, needed a space to work from home. “At first I had my desk in my bedroom, and it was just depressing,” she told TMRW. “I started to just get my laptop and stay in bed working and quickly realized this was not going to work — I didn’t even need to get out of my pajamas. So I knew even the gesture of leaving the house to go to the garage would help.”

The previous owners had installed a sink and window air-conditioning unit in the space, so the framework was there, but it was still a garage. Pincoffs got to work to make it more practical and pretty. “My goal was to warm it up and make it feel like an extension of our home,” she said.

She added shelving units to keep everything organized and installed neutral foam poster boards on the walls so that she can display different color schemes she’s working on. One of her favorite pieces in the room is the vintage chalkboard she found at an antique mall. And to make it extra cozy, she added a couple black-and-white-striped rugs. It cost around $700 to fix it up.

She said she’s noticed a lot more of her clients are using unused spaces in their home for offices these days. “In the past, offices were saved for later phases. Now, people are seeing how useful these spaces are.”

The home theater that was once a basement

The basement was once a barely used room, but after this amazing renovation, it's used all the time. Courtesy Jen Woodhouse

Design blogger Jen Woodhouse, who is based out of central Kentucky, had a basement she said was really just a place to store unpacked boxes and forgotten furniture. “It was a shame we rarely used the basement because it was such a great space with tons of potential,” she said.

Woodhouse was inspired to create a 1920s Art Deco home theater after binge-watching all five seasons of the TV series “Peaky Blinders."

“My husband Adam loves going to the movies. He’d go every night if he could, but I’m an introvert who doesn’t enjoy large crowds so this was our compromise,” she said.

Before the renovation, the basement was just a storage space for unpacked boxes and forgotten furniture.Courtesy Jen Woodhouse

They did a lot of the work themselves to stay within their $5,000 budget, and it took about a month to finish the project.

From the gorgeous green wall paint to the glamorous gold ceiling tiles, the room feels like an entirely new space. And the best part is that it actually gets used now.

“We hang out here every single night,” she said. “It’s truly been a huge blessing and a place of refuge for us, especially during these tumultuous times when it felt like the world turned upside down in a matter of months.”

The family room that was once an attic

This gorgeous space was once an unused attic. Courtesy Deborah McDonald

Deborah McDonald, who co-runs the Vintage Design Co design blog based out of Alberta, Canada, wanted a new space to hang out with her family in her 118-year-old historic house, so she opted to converting her attic over the basement into a family room. “The deciding factor was for sure the roof line in the attic space,” she said. “It was not something we could pass up.”

Unfortunately, the previous occupants had been using the attic for storage over the past 45 years, and a lot of garbage had accumulated. “It took many truck loads to the dump to clean the space out,” she said.

Before the renovation, the attic was a mess. Courtesy Deborah McDonald

There were already hardwood floors in the space, so McDonald just refinished them. She added pine shiplap to the walls and painted them in Oxford White. “We also added a natural gas fireplace to heat the space as we didn’t have any other source of heat up there.”

The total cost of the renovation was a little over $30,000 U.S. dollars, but she feels it was money well spent.

“We spend so much time up there now,” she said. “I added a concrete desk to the space that I work at all the time as well as it is our favorite family hang out area. Most weekends and evenings you will find us hunkered down watching a family movie or playing board games right here.”