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Can't afford to move? Get the most out of the home you have

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A brick patio with wooden patio posts and a cover of canvas curtains. The back ground has green grass, a birdbath and hammock. (iStock / ©Vallarie Enriquez)

For many of us, a new, bigger home is simply out of reach. If you’re tired of your old digs and feel like your current home is bursting at the seams, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to make better use of the space you have.

Get Vertical: The first step in sprucing up your home is to solve storage problems. A cramped, cluttered house is no fun to live in, so in order to make things feel a little more spacious, you need to make better use of vertical space. Ceiling-high shelves and overhead storage bins can help you get your house in order.

Trick yourself: Lighter, brighter colors can make a room seem larger than it is, so you can start by putting up a fresh coat of paint over those darker hues. Glass-topped tables and mirrored walls can also help create the illusion of space.

A tiered garden is a great way to maximize the light your plants get in a small space.

Tidying up the yard: A weekend’s worth of landscaping can transform your cluttered yard into a garden paradise. The first step is to cut back any overgrown shrubs or trees, and replace fast-growing plants with species that are easier to control. If you’ve got a green thumb, but not a lot of room, a tiered garden is a great way to maximize the light your plants get in a small space. Trellised plants and espalier are other great ways to put your vertical space to use.

Improving flow: Sometimes you can really improve a room just by adjusting the arrangement of your furniture. Tables and couches that run perpendicular to high-traffic areas can create bottlenecks, making things seem more cramped than they are. You can also improve a room’s flow by replacing oversized furniture with sleeker, more compact items, so that the furniture better fits the space you have.

Rent a storage locker: For the stuff you rarely use, but just can’t part with, you’re better off renting a storage locker. For around $60 a month, you can pack your stuff away, keeping it out of sight, but at the ready should you need it. If there are objects that you rarely use, and aren’t worth storing, it’s time for a garage sale.

Digitize it: Books, CDs, movies and records add a lot of clutter to the home and take up precious storage space. If your shelves are overflowing with media, it might be time to ditch the physical copies for digital ones. Turning CDs into MP3s with iTunes, or DVDs into movie files with a program like HandBrake is dead simple and won’t cost you a thing.

Let the light in: Pruning a low hanging tree can do a lot to lighten up a home and turn dark, drab interiors into well-lit spaces. While you might not be able to increase the size of the room, a lighter, brighter room can feel a lot more spacious.  

Target a few spaces: Chances are there are a few highly trafficked spaces in your home, like the living room and kitchen. While you might not be able to afford a new home, a renovation project might be within your reach. By knocking down a few walls, adding extra space to the high-traffic rooms, you can make yourself feel more comfortable in the spaces you use on a regular basis.

Take it outside: With spring upon us, it’s time to take the party outside. A patio, porch or sunroom is an affordable way to add extra square footage to a home, and it’ll boost your resale value when you do decide to move.