Challenging Floor Plan? Time to Get Creative

Homes can be as unique as snowflakes. What happens when you fall in love with a home with a challenging floor plan? It’s time to get creative! Think outside the box on ways to utilize and maximize your space to make it meet your needs!

The moment has arrived! You found a house with great square footage in an awesome location, and it has everything on your wish list! If only you could get past the challenging floor plan, you would buy it in a heartbeat. This scenario is more common than you think in real estate. There are countless styles and layouts for homes in the San Antonio area. The good news is that with a little creativity and imagination, you can take something not quite perfect and make it fit your style! Here are a few examples of rooms that can be adapted with minimal effort.

Dining Room

I’ll admit it! I enjoy a house with a traditional dining room. It might seem old school, but I enjoy dinner parties and board games. However, dining rooms are one of the main problems I run into when dealing with a challenging floor plan. I had a house in Nashville, Tennessee, where the dining room was almost the size of the living room. It was gorgeous, but such a waste of space. Now I am looking at a home in San Antonio, Texas, where I will be lucky to squeeze in just my table and chairs. Here are some solutions that I’m considering:

  • Removing and storing a table leaf: Let’s face it, as much as I love a dining room, how often do I REALLY use it? I’d guess six or eight times a year. I could easily free up space by removing the center leaf, wrapping it safely, and stashing it in a closet until I need it.
  • Consider an alternate location: This home has an enormous living room. I’ve given thought to partitioning part of it as the dining room and the other as a formal sitting area. Then I can take the actual dining room and make it into a den.
  • Buy smaller furniture: Part of being a traditionalist is that I like big furniture. Maybe I don’t need an eight-seat dining set with a hutch and a buffet. My problem is that I JUST bought it about six months ago. I am not getting rid of it.

I will likely take option one as my solution. It’s the easiest and most logical for my situation. However, simply looking at things a different way helped me overcome some hang-ups I had about this house.

Small, organized kitchen


The last two places I have lived were plagued with the same problem — a shortage of kitchen cabinets. Kitchens are pretty much my favorite things in a house. It’s so disappointing to see a 2,000-square-foot home with a kitchen barely big enough for two people to turn around in! In this scenario, I have to get creative with storage. It’s all about prioritizing the space.

  • Cabinets get the items you use on a regular basis: Place the everyday items in the drawers and cabinets for easy access when you need them. Everything else can be stored in another location.
  • Utilize pantry space wisely: If you are lucky enough to have a large pantry, it can be a lifesaver. Store as much as you can in there while still leaving it accessible.
  • Consider garage storage: If you have space to put shelves in the garage, use it! I just realized the other day that I have an entire cabinet full of crock pots and vases. Do you know how often I use my crock pot? It might be six times a year! I can easily store that in the garage on a shelf.
  • Hijack other furniture: As I mentioned before, I have a beautiful hutch that I bought with my dining room set. It’s perfect for all my everyday dishes.

In a perfect world, I would have room to spare in my dream kitchen. That doesn’t appear to be in the stars for me at the moment. I will make the best of it by using the space I have efficiently!


This topic can vary widely but it’s usually on the list when dealing with a challenging floor plan. For those of us lucky enough to need home office space, it can be surprisingly difficult. I am, in a sense, stealing an entire room for myself. Per my accountant, my office cannot be multi-purpose if I want to take a tax deduction. Offices and guestrooms are the two biggest issues I have when looking for a house. Since I have to keep my office separate and single-use, I generally make the guestroom a multi-purpose room.

  • Exercise equipment: I bought an elliptical for Christmas that I love. However, I use it less than an hour each day. There is no reason I can’t put it in the guestroom that only gets used maybe 10 nights a year!
  • Personal TV space: Do you enjoy having your own TV to watch? Put it in the guestroom!
  • Get creative with the furniture: I love the idea of a Murphy bed! They look like a cabinet, but pull down into a bed. The problem is that I can be a bit of a spendthrift and don’t love the price tag. Another option is a daybed and trundle. Then I can get a twin-sized daybed with another pullout trundle that stores beneath it. Many of the trundles are spring-loaded and rise to the same level as the bed to create a king-size bed! It’s genius and saves a ton of space!

There are many other ways you can get creative with a challenging floor plan. I could write another article just on bathrooms. The point is to look at things from a new angle. You can get a good feel for a house by looking, but I recommend measuring your furniture to see where it will fit. They make really cool apps that can also help with furniture placement. If you love the house, you will find a way to make the floor plan work for you!


Stephen is a Brand Ambassador for Coldwell Banker in South/Central Texas and Louisiana and has been in the real estate business since 2001. He is a passionate trainer, published author, and avid foodie! He currently resides in San Antonio, TX, but has lived in amazing cities like Nashville, TN, and New Orleans, LA! Stephen loves food, wine, travel, karaoke, and local culture.

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