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What to Do With Crawl Spaces (6 Practical Ways to Use the Area Under Your Home)

What to Do With Crawl Spaces (6 Practical Ways to Use the Area Under Your Home)

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According to the Energy & Environmental Building Alliance, 15–20% of American houses have crawl space foundations.

They’re popular for a reason. Crawl space foundations are cheaper to build than basement or slab foundations.

However, if you’re like me, then I’m sure that you think it’s a waste to not use your crawl space to its full potential.

What to do with crawl spaces? I’ve come up with some interesting ways on how you can utilize this often overlooked part of your home.

What to Consider Before Giving Your Crawl Space a Makeover

Before beginning your project, you’ll have to make sure that your crawl space is in good condition to be ready for some change.

The most common issue people have to address has to be related to high moisture.

It’s important to fix this first since mold and rot can create problems with your indoor air quality. Excess moisture might even cause structural deterioration.

Moreover, moisture problems can destroy any items that you’ll put into the crawl space and invite pests to start living in there.

If rainwater gets into the crawl space, you can solve this problem with proper drainage. Sloping the crawl space so water runs to the drainage hole is a good idea.

Another tip is to install a vapor barrier if your crawl space has a dirt floor.

Lastly, you should regularly clean your crawl space to prepare it for a makeover.

6 Practical Ways to Use Crawl Spaces

Now that you’ve readied your crawl space, you can convert it into multiple things, including:

1 – Crawl Space as Food Storage

What food can you store in a crawl space? Food in cans and jars should be perfect!

You can make a year’s worth of these and store them in your crawl space. Homemade jams and jellies are also great for this purpose.

Still, you should note that food needs a particular environment to prevent rotting.

This is why you should keep your crawl space at 32º to 40ºF. The humidity level must be 85 to 95 percent.

It might be best to install shelving and lighting in the crawl space for this purpose. These should make sorting and labeling your food cans an easy task.

However, you won’t be able to use your crawl space as a food storage room if there’s a septic tank nearby. It attracts bacteria, which can contaminate your food and cause food poisoning.

2 – Crawl Space as a Living Room

Recessed living areas or sunken living rooms are best for homes with crawl space foundations.

Sunken living rooms can be any shape, size, and depth. They’re a great idea for a crawl space because they can increase the height enough to let you enjoy your time without feeling claustrophobic.

Better still, there are many modern designs you can use as inspiration.

To start, carefully plan the layout of where you want the living room to be. The furniture must all fit into the lowered portion.

If you’re not very good at planning interiors, you can always get help from an interior designer.

Next, you’ll have to hire an expert to remove the pre-existing flooring, lower it, then cement the floor and walls.

Afterward, you’ll have to insulate the walls, then install your decorative panels and lighting.

3 – Crawl Space as a Bedroom Nook

It’s possible to put a bed into the crawl space by turning it into a modern bedroom nook. This way, it can be an extension of an underground bedroom or a basement.

Humans have associated sleeping next to sturdy walls with safety. Having a nook like this is cozy and will help you sleep better.

It also looks like a private den!

4 – Crawl Space as a Library

Some days, it can be relaxing to curl up with your favorite book. It might feel too cramped to read in a crawl space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a secret library to store your collection.

Crawl spaces have the perfect conditions to preserve your books, if you make sure they’re free of excessive moisture, of course.

Plus points if you can make it look like a room from Hogwarts!

5 – Crawl Space as a Kid’s Play Area

You can’t usually stand upright in a crawl space, but do you know who can? That’s right, your house’s crawl space is the perfect height to become a kid’s playroom.

When turning a crawl space into a playroom, you should always consider your kid’s safety first. The main issue would be airflow.

Crawl spaces aren’t made to house people. You’ll have to install adequate ventilation to get oxygen down there.

Next, add proper lighting and a safe door your kids can open from the inside.

A lot of work needs to be done. If you can pull it off, then the crawl space will become the most magical hidden playroom for your kids!

6 – Crawl Space as a Hidden Bunker

If you’re in an emergency, a crawl space bunker might be what saves you.

It’s not an ideal place to live. That being said, you can store large amounts of food and supplies in the crawl space.

Like the playroom, your main issue should be ventilation. Build a proper system so you can get oxygen into the room.

I’d like to add that hiding in a crawl space during a hurricane may not be the best idea. The foundation won’t be enough to keep you safe.

Another scenario where we don’t recommend hiding in a crawl space is when there are floods.

Can a Crawl Space Be Used for Storage?

Definitely! This might be the most recognized way to use crawl spaces other than for utilities.

It’s a bit difficult to constantly be reaching through the floor to take items out. That’s why crawl spaces are best used for storing seasonal items.

On average, crawl spaces are 1.5–3 feet in height and cover the whole floor area of your home. That’s a lot of space to work with.

You can fit a whole Christmas tree and boxes of decor in there. Halloween decor might be another thing you can store.

Crawl spaces are perfect for storing winter gear. Even furniture, rarely used appliances, and toolboxes can fit under your home.

Don’t Put These Items in Crawl Spaces

Whatever you do, always use plastic storage bins for clothes and other cloth items. This can prevent pests from getting to your stuff.

It might be a bad idea to place old rugs and stuffed toys into crawl spaces. Mice and other insects can make nests in these.

Plus, old rugs can absorb moisture, which can promote mold growth.

Never put any propane or gasoline tanks or firewood under your home. This can be a fire hazard.

Unfortunately, some people “take out of sight, out of mind” too literally and put garbage in the crawl space.

This is a health hazard. It’ll give off a bad smell that can attract flies and other pests.

Can a Crawl Space Be Used as a Root Cellar?

If your crawl space has a cement floor, you could easily turn it into a root cellar.

Root cellars are areas under your home that are typically cooler than the rest of the house. They have served as food storage since the 18th century.

Before refrigeration was invented, people had cellars to store root crops like carrots, potatoes, beets, onions, and turnips. The cool, dry atmosphere of root cellars ensures that these crops don’t rot.

Your main issue here would be keeping pests from eating your vegetables. That being said, there are some measures you can apply to prevent this from happening.

  • Peppermint and other mint oils are great for keeping rodents and rats away.
  • Cinnamon is a natural ant-repellent.
  • Cover food containers with hardware cloth, as rodents can’t chew through it. It will still let air flow around your vegetables.
  • Mechanical cockroach traps can catch roaches without the use of poison.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of options on what to do with crawl spaces. It isn’t just an empty foundation under your house.

You can use the crawl space as a general and food storage. You may also convert it into a livable area or a root cellar.

Most importantly, you should see the crawl space as an extension of your home and turn it into any kind of room that you need.

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