We bought our 1920 Colonial Revival seven years ago, when our son was a toddler. His sister was born the next year. We live on the top two floors of our home, and the terrace level contains two small apartments, which we have used for overflow housing for out-of-town guests (we also have a separate carriage house for guests) and have occasionally rented to law student interns in the summertime and other grad students during the school year.
We always intended to gut the apartments to make more living space for our family of four. In a variation on "if you build it they will come," we have begun to empty out the apartment spaces in the hopes that empty apartments will equal first step to terrace level renovation. After Christmas, the power company hauled off the energy inefficient apartment refrigerators and sent us a nice rebate check. A couple of weeks ago, we donated most of the furniture to the refugee ministry at our church. As a result, we now have two mostly empty spaces.
We also have a super high energy eight month old Boykin Spaniel, who is gated into the kitchen when I am not out spending hours every day walking him. My ongoing dilemma when friends and playdates come over is what to do with the puppy. Last week when I was making plans for my daughter's 6th birthday party at our home, it occurred to me that the larger, one-bedroom apartment was the perfect place to put puppy. I moved his crate, cot, toys, and food and water bowls down there, and he had plenty of space to rest and play while the party took place upstairs. If he trashes the carpet or gnaws on the baseboards, who cares? If the apartment is dirty, dated, and devoid of furniture, he certainly doesn't care! It worked out well, and I used it again yesterday morning when I met with our architect, which was a vast improvement over the prior week's meeting, when puppy sat under the kitchen table gnawing on some sort of Himalayan yak cheese thing, and pooting on a very regular and smelly basis. (I later thought, "You know you've chosen the right architect when you can meet with him while your dog poots under the table without being 100% completely mortified.")
P.S. Stay tuned for the next installment in the series, My Pets' Real Estate: My Cat has Her Own Screened Porch.