While the “work from home” trend had already been growing, COVID put it into overdrive.
As a result, our homes have had to serve us in ways we never could have anticipated. Home is no longer just a place we go to unwind at the end of the day; it also serves as an office, a school, a restaurant, a movie theater, a gym, and frequently several of these functions simultaneously.
This change has led to the need for multipurpose spaces in our homes.
But it can be difficult to picture a space that can serve two or three purposes.
Here are a few things the experts advise you to think about whether you’re trying to make the most of a small space, build a flexible bonus room, or improve the functionality of an open floor plan.
1. Identify your needs
Choosing how to use the space is the first and most crucial step. Will it be required for both work and school? A space for overnight visitors? Maybe a den for dad’s music practice sessions or family game night?
2. Create zones
If there is room, set aside distinct areas for various activities. Take note of the room’s shape and plan how visitors will move around it.
Start with the largest wall in the room and plan the best way to arrange the furniture. Build around any architectural features with a focal point, such as a fireplace or large windows.
Begin with the largest zones, then organize the smaller zones around them.
If you wanted a room where the family could watch TV, read, and play cards, for example, start with the seating area around the TV and then add a reading nook and game table on the periphery, using square footage that doesn’t make sense for the main zone—for example, a sunny corner that would be much better suited to reading a book than watching a movie.
Use rugs to demarcate spaces, and if additional privacy is required, add a room divider
3. Use furniture that can be used for multiple things
The secret to making any room more functional is dual-purpose furniture, but it’s especially crucial if you’re working with a small space.
Wall beds and sleeper sofas are ideal for the combination of a home office and guest room. When not in use, the former can be completely hidden, whereas the latter serves as extra seating in the office when visitors aren’t in town.
Select a sleeper couch with a thicker mattress. Air mattresses are now widely used in many models because they are cozy and don’t take up much extra room.
Ottoman cubes on casters are good options because they can be easily moved for different uses, including as a cocktail table, seating, or a footrest. They also have storage for items like extra linens.
Tip: It’s a good idea to include USB ports whenever you can, whether they’re tucked away in a chair’s armrest or an end table’s side. It’s an added convenience because everyone is constantly using their devices.
Add a coffee table with a lift top that pops up to serve as a desk in a room where kids will also be doing homework. Bonus: You can also eat there while watching a movie.
4. Ensure there is a lot of storage
When you have enough storage, it can prevent a multipurpose room from becoming a “catchall” for household clutter.
If possible, opt for built-in cabinets or shelving that you can adjust to accommodate items like computer hardware in an occasional office, or toys and game consoles in an entertainment room.
Try to use areas that are frequently ignored, such as vertical space, under the bed, or the top shelf of a closet. Hanging things such as guitars, hats, or skateboards is a clever way to make the most of available space.
Layer on additional lighting
When redecorating a space, light fixtures are frequently treated as an accessory and added after the major furnishings are already in place, but in a room that serves multiple purposes, they must be taken into account from the beginning.
These spaces frequently require overhead, task, and ambient lighting. They will merely be put to different uses at different times.
Note: Multipurpose rooms frequently require all lighting types.
Bright overhead lighting, for instance, would be adequate for a home gym or playroom, but you’ll need task lighting if the same area has a reading nook or craft table.
Add desk and nightstand lamps in addition to the overhead lighting if the room doubles as an office and bedroom. Choose dimmable lights that can be adjusted according to the activity in a room used for entertainment.
Additionally, always pay close attention to window placement when arranging the furniture because natural light is preferred for activities like painting and working with puzzles, and you don’t want the sun to shine directly on a TV or computer screen.
5. Recognize that some combinations will simply not work
Finally, while it is simple to convert a home office into a guest suite with the help of multipurpose furniture and creative storage, some uses should be kept apart.
For example, a home gym can’t be used as both a workspace and an entertainment space because of the large exercise equipment that can’t be neatly tucked away when not in use.