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Santa Claus and the In-Laws are Coming to Town!

by Matt Goering

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The holidays are definitely a feel-good time. Bing Crosby songs start playing on the radio, your neighbor puts up a lighting display that can be seen from space, and it's a rare day that you can't find The Miracle on 34th Street playing on at least one cable TV channel. Unfortunately, that winter bliss can start feeling a little cramped when the extended family moves in for a week or two at the end of December. If you're worried about having enough elbow room come Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza, hold onto your reindeer! Here's a list of 7 home improvements, sanctioned by the fat man himself, that will help you maintain your personal space, and a little sanity, through the holiday season.

#1. Bathroom Upgrade—If folks in your home are already waiting in line to use the bathroom, imagine how cramped things are going to feel when all your guests arrive! Expanding existing bathrooms with two-sink vanities, larger mirrors, and a separate shower area is a great idea, as is adding a shower or tub to that half-bath down in the basement.

#2. Interior Design—You'd be surprised how much a good interior decorator or designer can do to open up your home. Whether they actually open things up by removing the interior wall between your kitchen and dining room, or just make things feel more open by rearranging furniture and optimizing interior lighting, these design experts are worth every penny when it comes to making your home feel more spacious.

#3. Small Scale Kitchen Remodel—Let's face it, the holidays revolve around the kitchen. If you're hosting the big gathering this year, maybe it's time to treat yourself with small scale kitchen remodel and spruce things up a little. You can go all out with new flooring, cabinets, and countertops, or maybe a new set of appliances will be enough to do the trick.

#4. Dining Room—If Norman Rockwell paintings are any indication, there's no better way to celebrate the holidays and family togetherness than around the dining room table while Grandpa and Grandma carve the Christmas ham or turkey. If your seating arrangements for the big feast include the couch, loveseat, and the stairs leading down to the basement, maybe adding a dining room to your humble home is in order!

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#5. Basement Remodel—Any football fan knows that the words "holiday season" might as well be secret code for "bowl season." And when you've got a ton of guests dropping in, what better way to pass the time than watching football? Whether you opt for a full home theater set up, or just a cozy basement nook for a couch and T.V., a basement remodel can be a great gathering area, or a welcome escape from the in-laws!

#6. Built-In Everything! —If you haven't heard of built-in home improvements, it's time that you catch yourself up with the times. Built in shelving, home entertainment centers, under stair storage units, and kitchen appliances, are all the rage these days, not to mention a great way to create valuable storage space in your home in otherwise neglected areas.

#7. Garage Apartment—Adding a garage apartment by December 25th might be a little ambitious, but if you're losing sleep thinking about your in-law's upcoming holiday visit, it just might be worth your trouble. Garage apartments are a great option for homeowner looking to provide a little separation from their guests at the end of the day, as well as an extra source of income if you eventually decide to rent out the space. Carriage houses and guest houses are other popular options if achieving space between you and your holiday house guests is your primary goal.

Whichever remodel you decide is right for, we wish you good luck as you move forward, and a happy holiday season as well!

Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.