Photo by Tiare Scott

Update: Adding a den to your home is a great way to make your home work for you by making it more flexible. Having an informal relaxation space for kids and adults alike creates a space where the whole family can come together and relax without worrying about the room being pristine all the time! A separate, more formal living room is great for adults-only and for when you have guests. Another great thing about adding a den is that you can build it in spaces you wouldn’t normally use, such as a basement or attic space.

A den addition to your home can be a terrific investment of both time and money. Not only will it increase the value of your home, it will also create a wonderful cozy family gathering place you can enjoy for many years to come.

There are many ways to add a den to your home. One way is to claim attic space. The use of attic space offers a number of fascinating possibilities, ranging from a secluded and cozy retreat to a loft that overlooks the kitchen or great room. Unused space in the basement can also be converted into a very nice den. A third way, which offers unlimited possibilities, is to build an addition to your home.

A den will probably be relatively small (as compared to a family room or great room). You will want to make it cozy and comfortable for your family to use for TV or movie viewing, reading, enjoying music, or just gathering for an evening chat. Creating a feeling of warmth and comfort is generally the goal of den design.

The first questions you will need to answer if you want to add a den are these:

  • Will you convert an existing room?
  • Will you renovate your attic?
  • Will you finish a space in your basement?
  • Will your den be an addition to your existing home?
  • If the den will be an addition, where will it join the existing structure?
  • What will be the size of the room?

The next set of questions concern access and connection to the rest of the house:

  • How will you have access to your new den? Will you be able to use an existing stairway (to attic or basement)? Will you need to add and construct a new stairway?
  • How will you connect your new den addition to the existing structure? Will you need to create a doorway or hallway from the existing structure into the new den? Will you remove a wall from your house to connect with the new den?

One very popular approach to den additions is to remove an exterior kitchen wall, allowing the new den to connect with the end of the kitchen. This approach can create a very warm, comfortable and cozy living space for your family. If you choose this option, you will need to decide whether to remove the entire section of wall or to create either a doorway or an opening into the den. Using a doorway will have minimal effect on the look and feel of the kitchen.  A completely open area will affect the look and feel of both den and kitchen, and will require careful planning and design.

There was a time when a den was simply a small room that might have built-in bookcases and was probably paneled in wood (generally knotty pine). Families, builders and contractors have become far more creative in recent years, designing spaces that are both interesting and functional. Here are some room-design ideas you might want to consider in planning your den.

  • If you are remodeling an attic space, consider creating an open staircase from the floor below. Either a half-wall or a wood or wrought iron stair rail can prevent accidents and create a feeling of more space in both rooms.
  • If you are remodeling a basement space, consider ways you can create the same effect of openness in the way you provide access to your basement den.
  • If you are adding to your home, consider something more creative than a simple doorway to join the den to the existing structure. You might place a see-through fireplace between the kitchen and the den, with open space on each side for access. You can connect your den to other rooms in the same way.
  • If you are adding a den that connects with your kitchen, consider using a “breakfast bar” to delineate space. Or, just allow the kitchen and den to flow together.
  • You can create the feeling of warmth in a den through color choices for paint, wallpaper and furniture. Flooring materials can also create very exciting effects. Rather than paneling, you might consider adding the warmth of wood with hardwood floors and open-beam rafters in the den.

If your new den will be an addition to the house, you will need to think carefully about the grade of the land, the appropriate type of foundation, and the external appearance of the new addition. The external materials will certainly need to match or blend with the exterior of the existing house. The line of the new roof will need to be consonant with the existing roof line, and the shingles should match. You can, however, consider some options that will make your home more energy efficient, such as installation of solar energy panels or a skylight. A fireplace could provide alternative heating, as well as creating a feeling of warmth in the room. With so many styles of fireplaces available, you will certainly be able to find one that accents your den and other rooms with which it connects.

Whether you choose to remodel existing space or to add to your home, you will need to attend to heat, air conditioning, and electricity needs. This, as well as any requirements for a foundation and exterior walls,will help you decide whether this is a do-it-yourself project or one to be left to professionals.  If you are building a fireplace, proper ventilation will be critical. You could have a professional do some of the work, leaving the rest for you to do.

Whether you choose a simple plan or a very creative and exciting room design, you can have a marvelous living space for your family by adding a den to your existing home. The project will be great fun to plan and build, and you will have a renovation that will improve your lifestyle and increase the value of your home.

If this article was helpful, you might also want to read:

Successful Remodeling: Ten Tips for Keeping Your Sanity

Attic Renovation Ideas – 3 Tips to Create More Living Space

First Steps in Planning a Finished Basement