When Amy and John contacted their neighbor, architect Bruce Anderson, they were the third set of owners of the same house in Indianapolis who had talked about making improvements.

As Amy and John explained it, the entire first floor was one big hallway; a leaky front door opened into the center of the living room; and the first floor lacked a powder room — all of which affected not only Amy and John but also Amy’s home-based business, which she was running out of the dining room.

Happily, Amy and John had 7 ½ feet of driveway on the south side of the house onto which they could build. Within this narrow but sufficient confine, Anderson placed two small additions: a breakfast nook off the kitchen and an entry vestibule and powder room extending from the living room. At the back of the house, he added a dedicated home office adjacent to the dining room, which could serve as a conference room.

The additions gave the house a measure of clarity and utility it had lacked, as well as a more pleasing exterior look. But even three additions would not have solved the circulation problems in the original rooms if Amy and John had not been willing to give up half their coat closet in favor of a direct passageway between the front of the house and the kitchen. That half a closet sacrifice made all the difference.

Adapted with permission from Not So Big Remodeling by Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassalo, published by The Taunton Press (2009).