OTTAWA -- Some domestic terms have come to define the pandemic: ‘work from home’, ‘learn from home’, ‘home renovate’ and ‘home update’ among them.

The pandemic has been a time of unprecedented home improvements. How we are using our homes has changed.

“Some homeowners have decided to renovate their kitchens, bathrooms and basements to handle our new lives. However, not everyone has the time, or budget, to take on such a large project,” says Taylor Bennett of Bennett Property Shop Realty.

“You don't have to break the bank to improve your home.”

Bennett is in and out of a lot of homes and he shares affordable ideas that maximize space for minimal expense.

“I have been in homes that have four occupants, all of whom needed their own home office workspace,” he says. “With a little creativity, and looking at your home from a different perspective, you can unlock the full potential of your home during the lockdowns.”

Here are some of Bennett’s tips for affordable fixes and creating more space without breaking the bank.

Desk in disguise

1. Desks in disguise

- Murphy/fold-down desks

- Telescopic tables

“Some homes just weren't built with a home office in mind, but that doesn't mean you can't create your own work space. In today's virtual world, laptops have replaced most traditional desktop PCs and PDFs have reduced the need for printers/scanners and the bulky desks that were needed to hold them.”

“With the trim down in equipment needed for a home office along with a few cleverly designed fold-down desks (think a Murphy bed but a desk) or pull-out desks, a work station can be created in almost any room.”

2. Pop-Up Privacy

- Folding walls

- Curtains

- Room dividers

“Unless you own a home on a larger lot, there's a good chance you have an open-concept living/dining room layout.  Open-concept layouts reduces the number of hallways and walls while maximizing the flow of natural light - but in a busy household where 3 or more work stations are needed it can be challenging to find a private area for an office or desk.

“Room dividers and folding walls allow families to create a temporary office by day and return it back to the open-concept by night. For additional privacy, consider using a full-length curtain from floor-to-ceiling.”

3. Clever kitchen

- Portable Islands

- Pull-outs and turntables

“Some of the new homes our brokerage has helped design have focused on the at-home chef - increased counter space, pantries, maximized cabinet space, etc... but you don't need to buy a new home or renovate your kitchen to increase the the effectiveness & efficiency of your kitchen.

“Many kitchen manufacturers offer kitchen islands on wheels which can not only increase the usable counter space and storage space. Use cabinet organizers, pull-outs and turn-tables inside your cabinets and drawers to access hard-to-reach places and previously unused spaces.”

Hanging shelves

4. Shelf life

- Floating shelves

- Basement storage

- Bedside tables

“If you were like me, pre-pandemic my basement was a "catch-all" for all my miscellaneous sporting gear, unused furniture, seasonal decorations and equipement, etc... but after finding a good deal online for some free-standing shelves, I was able to quadruple the amount of usable floor space of my basement. Bulky bookshelves and be swapped out for re-enforced floating shelves, closet storage can be enhanced with a second shelf."

Hanging plants

5. Elevate your life

- Hanging plants

- Suspended lights

- Ceiling hooks

“In keeping with the theme of clearing floor space, hanging essential items like house plants or lights from the ceiling can not only increase the floor space but it can also give the appearance of a larger room by adding more light and/or drawing the eye upward. In unfinished areas like the basement or garage, hanging bikes, tools, etc... from the ceiling can free up much-needed space.”