Over the past few years, American families have found themselves at home more than ever before. So it’s no surprise that many families are rethinking their homes and how to use the square footage they’ve got. This is especially true for living rooms, bonus rooms, and basements—any space your family asks to serve many purposes to support different family members and their unique needs.
In this article, we’ll walk you through creating a highly functional multi-purpose space, offering design tips and other space-saving tricks to help you build the best bonus room ever.
Step 1: Figure out what you need from your space
Before you begin to shop for pull-out couches and activity tables, take a minute to determine what purposes you’ll want this new space to serve. Will it be an office? A place for your children to do homework? A place to craft, play music, or socialize? Will people eat or drink in the space? Sit down and relax? Read? Watch television? Nap? Exercise?
Once you’ve made that list, organize these needs by priority. Try to focus on the top few items first. For example, if the key requirements for the space are homework, exercise, and occasional guest sleepovers, you’ll know how to get started. Of course, you can always fold in the second and third-tier “nice to haves” into your room’s design later.
Step 2: Map out the space
Now that you know what you’d like your space to achieve, it’s time to consider how to host all these activities in the same space. If the room is larger—a basement, for example—this exercise could be easy. You can quickly create an exercise zone, a study zone, and a sleeping area. You can use rugs, room dividers, open bookshelves, curtains, and more to delineate zones and add distance between activities.
However, if you are working with a smaller room, you’ll need to plan more carefully. If your priorities are still a kids’ homework zone, a home gym, and a place for guests to sleep, perhaps you’d plan out a 120-square-foot bonus room by placing a pull-out couch along the largest wall and creating fold-up workstations along the other open wall. Exercise equipment could be stored in the closet and pulled out only during workouts. Chairs at the desks could have a small footprint—ideally, they’d be stackable. That way, when guests occupy the space, chairs are easy to remove and store.
If desired, a television could be mounted to the wall for exercise classes and your guest’s enjoyment. Storage ottomans could be used as end tables when guests stay the night, and a few drawers could be left open in the closet for guests who like to unpack.
Step 3: Add multi-functional storage and the right lighting
Adding decor that serves many purposes is always a good idea, no matter what kind of space you’re designing or how much room you have to work with. Storage ottomans, benches, and bookshelves that double as room dividers are perfect ways to add colorful charm to a space while making the room more functional. Many of these items can also serve as seats, side tables, and more.
You’ll also need to consider what kind of lighting a space needs. Office, craft, and study areas require task lighting that makes it easy to see, read, and write. On the other hand, this kind of lighting could be way too bright for socializing or relaxing at night. Add a variety of lamps and lights to each space and allow your family to select the brightness they need to get things done or sit back and take it easy.
Related: Secrets to Creating a Cozy Home
Step 4: Recognize your space’s limits
No space can be everything to everyone. Unless you have a thousand-square-foot, finished basement, chances are you won’t be able to create a swing space that serves your every family member’s specific needs. Instead, focus on creating a bright, compelling, and pleasant space whose functions will most improve the daily life of the people who live in your home. Give priority to those who spend the most time at home or have the greatest needs.
And remember, the best thing about multipurpose spaces is that they’re designed to evolve. As your family’s needs change, this space can change, too.