When we say addition, what do you think of? Do you think of an additional structure off the back of the house, a full room? Do you think of the “big box” addition? Well, we are here to say home additions come in all shapes and sizes — and bigger isn’t always better.

Large, “big box” additions are not always the answer. Many people try to get more out of their house with a large room addition only to find that the addition didn’t solve problems that still exist in the rest of their house.


 Small addiitons B Small additions 2

Before: While remodeling their kitchen, this client added a 2-foot deep bay addition that allowed space for two “mud room” lockers and a bench that doubles as a window seat off the kitchen. (Brent Murray, Renovation Design Group)

Additions adding a relatively small amount of square feet are less expensive and yet can be effective alternatives to large room additions. Small but well-designed room additions can give you exactly what you need at a fraction of the cost of a larger addition. They also create minimal change to the exterior appearance of your home and take up less of your yard space. Small additions are especially effective in homes needing more space in bathrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.

For example, a couple in Holladay came to us wanting a larger shower and closet for their second-story master bathroom. Rather than making a large room addition, we simply added a 2-by-4-foot bay directly above an existing bay window in the dining room situated below the master bath. This created a perfect spot for a new jetted tub, which freed up space for a larger, separate shower and an extension of the closet. The overall configuration of the space was also much improved.

A couple in the Avenues had a living room that was only 11 feet wide. We designed a 2-by-6-foot bay window on one side of the living room. This minor addition allowed them to include the additional furniture they wanted to use — a coffee table and an extra chair.

Adding bays in living rooms or dining rooms also creates an attractive focal point in the space while increasing the rooms’ natural light and views to the exterior. Bays also allow for the inclusion of window seats, which are both functional and aesthetic. They can offer additional seating, create a cozy niche adjacent to a larger space and provide storage space under the seat.

In a kitchen, adding just two feet to one side may allow you to move the cabinets just enough to create sufficient space to allow the addition of an island.

If you’re interested in making a small addition to your home, keep the following structural aspects in mind:

It is possible to have a small addition, such as a bay window or cantilever several feet out from the wall of your home. By adding floor joists that extend beyond the wall to support such an addition, you can eliminate the need to pour a new concrete foundation. The rule-of-thumb is that the distance the new floor joists need to extend back into the existing floor space should be twice as long as the portion that is hanging outside the wall. This will involve tearing up the kitchen floor and subfloor, but this is often within the scope of a total kitchen remodel anyway.

When looking for additional space, you may be able to “borrow” a few feet from an adjacent room. For example, you can capture the space from a closet to add to a bathroom, which might be just enough to allow space for a new or enlarged shower or bathtub.

If you have a large roof overhang of 2 to 4 feet, you may be able to tuck an addition under your existing roof. If you don’t have such an overhang, you will need to build a new roof to cover an addition.

Meet with an architect to discuss your wants and needs for your house. They will be able to help you creatively assess the space you already have and discuss ways to help you achieve your goals within your budget. Many times the benefits of small creative additions outweigh the costs of large room additions that may not give you the results you really want. Look around your house carefully, and think small. It might make a big difference!

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to as*@Re*******************.com

Renovation Solutions: Consider small, creative additions