If you're working with an architect to custom design a new home or remodel your existing one, you're probably facing a wealth of seemingly endless choices. While it's nice to have a variety of rooms each with a different function, this isn't always spatially or financially feasible. Here's a look at how two flex room concepts could help simplify the design process for you.
Flex Room Basics
A flex room is any room that can serve multiple purposes. Many newly constructed homes today feature flex rooms (AKA bonus rooms), but they can be somewhat limited by their location in the home (usually off the kitchen, for example) and the fact that they are basically just an extra room to utilize as you wish for one activity. A truly useful flex room is designed with various functions already in mind to maximize its potential.
Carefully designed flex rooms are gaining in popularity for numerous reasons:
- Baby boomers are downsizing their living spaces.
- Homeowners are designing homes for longer use and "aging in place."
- Flex rooms help economize space and resources for green living.
- Houses in urban areas often have no additional physical space for expansion.
- The recent downturn in the economy has encouraged homeowners to be more frugal about construction and renovation costs.
- Many people are now working out of their homes and need extra office space but not necessarily 24/7.
- Flex rooms have appeal in home resale.
- Using one space for two or more functions make the home more efficient and easier to maintain and clean.
Dining Room to Library
If your family is like most, you probably eat most of your meals in the kitchen or breakfast nook. Think about it: how often do you really need and use your formal dining room? Likely it's less than a dozen times a year for holidays, family celebrations or the occasional dinner party. Why not make use of it by doubling it up with another, more high-use room, like a library or den?
This is actually an old-fashioned 19th Century layout that has come back into vogue. Imagine how sophisticated and cozy it could feel to dine surrounded by your collection of books. And what a great conversation starter too!
The key to making this work is to line the walls with shelves (use rolling ladders for an historic and functional touch) and to place the dining table in the center of the room. Be sure seating is comfortable enough to accommodate readers or writers sitting for a few hours at a time. This could mean using larger, plusher dining chairs than usual or adding a sofa or wing chairs against one wall. Keep the lighting flexible by putting a bright chandelier on a dimmer switch for both overhead reading light and elegant dining.
Exercise Room to Guest Room
Another common family home design plight is what to do with the exercise equipment. If you need to set it up prior to each use or if it's located in a less-than-motivational space (like the basement), you won't use it. But you don't want your treadmill in the middle of your family room or tripping you up in the bedroom either.
The solution is to give it its own room, which can be tricky if you've already maxed out your bedrooms. But just like your little-used dining room, your guest room probably sits unoccupied most of the year. It's a great spot to place your workout machinery.
When company comes, fold up the treadmill, push your weight bench to the side and stow your loose gear in a cabinet. Then open up a Murphy bed for your guests.
Yes, you read that right--a Murphy bed. No longer the purview of cramped big-city efficiency apartments, Murphy beds now come in all kinds of chic configurations. They're an easy and fashionable answer to your space dilemmas, and much less expensive than adding on another room for your home gym.
Remember if you're using a room for multiple purposes, to give yourself plenty of storage to stow belongings when they're not in use, and keep the space free of clutter that can make the room feel like a catch-all. With a little advance planning and a dose of creativity, you can find square footage for all your activities by using a flex room in an intentional and stylish way. For more ideas, talk to an architect from firms like Wolfe Architectural Group. An architect can help you design rooms suited for multiple uses.