A guest bedroom can be converted to a spacious walk-in closet. (Photos: Dreamstime/TNS)

With winter coming on and a year where you’ve probably been inside more than usual, it’s an ideal time to rethink how you use your existing space. You can find many uses for those areas of your home that may have gone to waste until now. Combat cabin fever with these relatively simple home upgrades. As an added bonus, contractors who do this kind of work are in the middle of their slow periods, which means you can often hire quickly and get a good deal on materials and labor.

Reclaim your crawlspace
Repurpose this overlooked corner of your home by turning it into a storage area. The most important step is installing a vapor barrier, which will stop moisture from entering your home through the space’s damp dirt floors. This option isn’t for everyone, so consult a professional waterproofing service to see what’s possible for you. Expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for this service.

Upgrade your spare bedroom
Convert your spare bedroom into a space you and your whole family can enjoy. An interior decorator can turn your long-delayed dreams into a reality with a decor plan, materials and installation. Your options can include a workout room, craft room, a meditative reading area, or any other idea you can think of. You can even convert a spare bedroom into the luxurious walk-in closet of your dreams.

Rethink your unfinished basement
If your basement is unfinished and underused, don’t wait any longer to maximize its potential! Set up that home theater you’ve been dreaming of, or add a guest bed and bath to take full advantage of the extra square footage. Alternatively, install a game room for family time and relaxation. Basement refinishing costs an average of about $10,000, but it’s well worth it due to the comfort and utility it adds to your home, not to mention interest from buyers if you ever sell.

Odd nooks and crannies
Perhaps you have a large bedroom and dream of an elaborate window seat. Maybe a well-placed breakfast nook could breathe new life into your kitchen. You can install built-in shelving in otherwise unused space to add both functionality and beauty.
A remodeling or interior design pro can help create a space that’s both eye-catching and functional.

Bonus round: Prevent package theft this season
Online shopping is easier than ever, but that convenience comes with a cost in security. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent gifts from vanishing before they make it through the door. Internet-enabled doorbell cameras are getting more affordable; some cost less than $100. Many shippers now give you options to customize delivery times to make sure you’re there to receive the package. You can require a signature to make sure the delivery makes it straight into your hands. A locking drop box provides perhaps the most safety; it can be bolted to your home or the porch. Expect to pay between $100 and $250 depending on the size of the box.

By Paul F. P. Pogue, Angie’s List. Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.