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Spare bedroom

Costs: "A bedroom is basically the cheapest space you can renovate," says Tom Silva, general contractor with PBS's "This Old House." Most of what people do to a spare bedroom "is basically cosmetic."

Popularity as remodel target: "Multipurpose rooms are very popular right now," says Dan Tratensek, analyst with the National Retail Hardware Association and Home Center Institute.

New trends: Spare bedrooms are doing double-duty as combination guest room, hobby room, workout room, home office or playroom. And closet organizers are a hot item in spare bedrooms, says Shawn Gannon, assistant manager with The Home Depot in Pasadena, Md.

Also, many homeowners need more sophisticated electrical wiring in spare rooms. "Whether it's a study, office or game room, we're seeing some pretty elaborate electronic installations," says M M "Mike" Weiss, certified graduate remodeler, chairman of the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders.

Features to consider: Homeowners are looking for ways to cram the most uses into the smallest amount of square footage. If that sounds like you, focus on organization, storage and furniture that does double-duty.

Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: To make a small room look bigger, hang mirrored closet doors, says Darius Baker, certified remodeler, president of D&J Kitchens & Baths Inc., Sacramento, Calif. To increase space, add closet organizers.

For a different look, try plantation shutters instead of curtains, says Weiss. And look at sliding or folding doors to increase the usable space.

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New products: Homeowners are relying on some old-fashioned ideas to create more room. "Everything old is new again," says Lou Manfredini, author of Mr. Fix-It Introduces You to Your Home and home improvement expert for Ace Hardware Corp. Day beds, trundle beds and high-end pull-down beds are all making a comeback. In a dual-purpose bedroom, "daybeds really give you the best of both worlds," he says.

Special problems: If you get the itch to move a wall, make sure it's not holding up the house. "Anytime a wall is load bearing, [changes] should only be done by professionals," says Rich Trethewey, a master plumber for "This Old House."

Biggest mistake: Trying to overstuff the room or make it do too much. Decide on one or two uses and do it up right. And make sure there is plenty of light.

Professional or DIY: There are a lot of things do-it-yourselfers can do to put a personal stamp on their homes, says Silva, including a variety of painting techniques and new flooring or carpets, and even painting the ceiling.

-- Posted: April 7, 2003


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