Flipping older houses in historic districts can be profitable, but it also comes with challenges. Old homes are well-known for architectural detail but they often have tiny closets. The reason behind the small closets is that when most historic homes were built, people didn’t own many clothes because they were precious items that had to be made by hand.

In the past, there wasn’t much need for closet space. The clothes they did have were stored in armoires, chests, and wardrobes. Closets often weren’t even located in bedrooms, instead, they were tucked in off corners or underneath stairs. Fast forward to modern times with more clothing options these small spaces have become less practical. It’s time to repurpose them.

Below are 7 ways that you can turn these historic storage spaces into functional parts of a home, undeniably increasing your flip’s buyer appeal.

Build a Home Office Closet Conversion

Working from home and freelancing are hot trends among millennials, but they need a place to work. A built-in home office is a big selling point for young professionals, especially if you can put one in unused storage space instead of converting a bedroom. This works especially well if it’s located off the main living space or sleeping areas, and not in a high traffic area.

What you need to turn a closet into a home office:

  • Add electrical outlets with USB wall plate covers at both standard and desk height.
  • Install a floating desktop 30” off the floor to accommodate a small filing cabinet underneath.
  • Replace the closet rod with shelving for storage.
  • Add functional lights above the workspace.

Stage it with a laptop, a task chair, and elegant office accessories so your buyers can see themselves working there or even just paying the bills at their built-in desk.

Convert A Closet Into A Wine Cellar

Adding a wine storage or a dry bar can turn a tiny alcove off of the kitchen or living area into a focal point perfect for entertaining. If your target buyer is a professional couple or wants to add custom features, try this DIY wine cellar project.

What you need to create wine storage in a nook or closet:

  • Remove the closet doors if any
  • Build in wine racks with richly stained wood.
  • Add elegant lighting and an electric outlet.
  • Install an under counter wine fridge to keep bottles chilled to the perfect temperature, choosing one with front ventilation for airflow.
  • Take the rod out and replace it with wine glass racks, more wine storage, and a storage box for the corkscrew and other bartending tools.

Stage the area with a bottle of bubbly and a couple of champagne glasses to let homebuyers see themselves celebrating their new home.

Make a Home Gym in a Closet

Putting a dedicated fitness area in your flip is appealing to many buyers. Especially, if your property is a row house or condo that doesn’t have a gym in the building. A space for workout gear doesn’t have to take up a lot of space or fill up a bedroom. This is a good choice for closets with doors so fitness equipment can be stowed away out of sight when it’s not being used.

What you need to transform a closet into a fitness area:

  • Install a pull-up bar on the door frame and sturdy hooks on the wall for equipment.
  • Screw anchor points into the studs for resistance bands or tubes.
  • Add a shelf for an iPad to watch workout videos on.
  • Build shelving or low box storage for free weights, kettle balls, and yoga mats.

Stage it with a few weights, a colorful exercise mat, and a colorful exercise ball.

Create a Cozy Calming Room For a Special Needs Child

If your investment property is a family home, consider adding a safe space for a child with autism or other disabilities. This can be a fantastic custom addition especially if you are in a school district known for having great special education services that attract families with special needs. It’s a good choice for a weird bump out or to tuck under the eaves in a secondary bedroom, or a closet at the end of a hall away from the main areas of the house.

What you need to change a closet into a calming space for a child:

  • Paint the closet with soothing colors, like soft greens or blues.
  • Change the light to a dimmable fixture and put in a daylight bulb instead of fluorescent or incandescent lighting.
  • Add an outlet for a white noise machine or to charge tablets.
  • Consider installing an anchor in the ceiling joist for a hanging swing chair.
  • Change the door to a bifold or one without a latch and make sure it has some ventilation, or replace the door with a curtain.

Stage the area with rubber floor mats, noise-canceling headphones, and a bean bag chair with a soft, solid colored or weighted blanket.

Install a Panic Room Closet

Creating a fortified safe room as a luxury upgrade in addition to being a usable space for storage, is a valuable addition to any property. However, there still needs to be room for people to hide inside. The walls and door must be secured and creating a safe room is easiest for basement closets on exterior walls but any interior one with a door that swings in will work.

What you need to install a panic room in an existing space:

  • Reinforce the door frame to prevent it from being kicked in.
  • Replace the interior door with an exterior-grade steel one.
  • Put in a flip down door brace or attach a door jammer to it.
  • Add a keypad lock so family members can get in without a key.
  • Secure the walls with poured concrete or cinderblock if you’re on the ground floor or basement, or line the walls with steel.
  • Cover them with drywall and paint to blend it with the rest of the house.
  • Add an electric outlet for cell phone chargers, and install an internet cable and a landline connection so people can call for help from inside.
  • If your property includes an alarm or security system, put a panic button in the safe room as well.

Make a Toy Room

A home with children is a home with toys that parents trip over and clutter up the space. Built-in toy storage and a special play area can make your property into a family’s dream home. Toy room conversions are great for under-stair closets and odd corners with low ceiling heights that can be closed off with a door or curtain, and work in both bedrooms and main living areas.

What you need to create a hidden toy area:

  • Paint the walls in soft, fun colors that are gender neutral.
  • Add fun touches like a chalkboard wall or shatterproof mirror.
  • Remove door locks and replace door knob with a child-friendly lever.
  • Build in square cubbies for storage, which should be at least 14”x14” to accommodate widely available bins.
  • Add shelves for games and books.
  • Screw hooks or a coatrack into the studs about 30” high for dress up clothes or toys with handles.
  • Install recessed lights that are flush with the ceiling. Adding a motion-sensitive light that automatically turns on is a nice touch.
  • If you have room, consider a fold-down desk at child height.

Stage with a few toys, colorful cloth bins and a child-sized rocking chair with a picture book and a teddy bear.

Turn a Closet Into a Laundry Room

Turning a closet into a laundry room is a little more complicated, but it’s an investment that should pay off when it’s time to sell. It’s a good idea when you can move a garage laundry room inside. This also works if your property is a condo that doesn’t have its own machines. Without a doubt, potential buyers would enjoy not having to use the building’s public machines. This works especially well for a dead-end hallway that shares a wall with bathroom plumbing, but can also work off the kitchen or hall.

What you need to convert a closet into a laundry room:

  • Plumb the space for the washer. You’ll need hot and cold water lines and a drain at the minimum.
  • Install a 240 volt outlet and a vent for the dryer.
  • Put in durable waterproof flooring and good lighting.
  • Add shelving for laundry essentials and a built-in fold down ironing board.
  • Be aware you may need a permit for this closet conversion.

Stage it with new appliances, a wicker laundry basket, fluffy white towels, and scented laundry detergent.

Converting closets is a smart way to add bonus space without putting in a costly addition. Take a new look at the underused nooks and storage spaces in your investment properties, and use these ideas as inspiration to upgrade your flip making it stand out in the listings and sell it fast.