Home has always been more than just a place to eat and sleep; Now, in the wake of COVID-19, it’s also the place where we spend most of our days, working or distance learning. Our space needs to be more flexible than ever before.
It seems no matter where we live — whether in a single-family suburban home or a one-bedroom urban apartment — we all invariably need more space. Luckily, you don’t have to upsize to get the added utility you need; with smart space-planning and a little creativity you can pack a ton of function into the tiniest of spaces.
Creating a multi-purpose room may feel like a daunting task at first, but chances are you’re probably already using one — whether your dining room also acts as your home office or your seldom-used guest room doubles as your weight room, most of us already try to squeeze as much function as we can out of our existing spaces. The trouble comes when our homes lack organization and thoughtful design; without the right storage tools and design strategies, we quickly find ourselves feeling trapped in a chaotic, cluttered mess.
Here, our editors share their top tips for creating and maintaining an organized, functional multi-use room:
It may seem obvious, but the very first rule of multi-functional design is to utilize multi-functional furnishings: pieces that fold away neatly to free up floor space when they’re not in use, or double-duty pieces that transform into something else entirely.
You probably don’t use that desk sitting in your guest room when the in-laws are over for an extended stay; so why should your work station take up so much valuable space when it’s only put to use a fraction of the time? Instead of using a traditional freestanding desk, why not go with a fold-away desk that disappears into your wall — or better yet, a wall bed with an integrated desk. When the guests are gone, simply close up the bed to reveal your desk, and — viola! — your home office has appeared in its place.
In fact, multi-functional wall beds come in every variety imaginable. Plain wall beds, like our Penelope 2, completely disappear into your wall, multiplying the size of any given space; wall beds with integrated sofas and sectionals, meanwhile, allow your living room or den to double as a guest room; and wall beds with integrated desks or dining tables provide needed table surfaces where they couldn’t otherwise fit. Because wall beds are specifically designed to create a multiplicity of use in any space they also feature a ton of built-in storage options. Many of our sofa wall beds, like the Oslo or the Swing, feature a hidden under-seat storage area for keeping extra bedding, shoes, winter coats, and other pesky items that always seem to take up too much space.
There are even wall bunk beds, like the Kali Duo, which can be true life-savers in shared kids’ rooms. Of course, these bunk options are also available with integrated sofas and desks — so the kids can fit their bed, their hangout space, and their homework desk all in one small room.
There is an incredible amount of space hiding in your home, no matter how tiny it may be — you just need to know where to look for it! Corners, for instance, are often-overlooked and under-utilized storage spots. The addition of a simple L-shaped corner desk or corner shelving unit can instantly multiply a room’s storage space, freeing up your floors and closets for other functional uses.
Corner desks are especially great pieces for dual-purpose home offices, as they keep all of your work items at arm’s length without taking up the real estate that a traditional desk would. Their distinctive L-shape also creates a sense of separation or delineation from the rest of the room so you will feel still as though you have a designated work space even if you are working out of a multi-purpose space, like a guest room or living room.
But don’t stop at desks or shelves — the uses for corners are truly endless. Use a banquette to create a corner dining nook and instantly double the size of your kitchen; make your own cozy reading corner in your guest room or home office; or use a corner to store kid’s toys, and keep the center of the room clear of clutter. To really make the corner feel like a separate space unto itself, consider painting the corner walls a different color from the rest of the room.
Ask any small-space designer, and they will tell you: vertical expansion is key to organizing any multi-functional room. Walls are extremely valuable real estate in your home, not merely places to hang pictures. Use your walls for practical purposes — hang a bicycle, hang your folding chairs, even hang a fold-down table or desk (our Specchio Table, for instance, folds down to transform from a hanging wall mirror to a work desk). The less floor space these items occupy, the more square-footage you have available for other purposes, whether that’s entertaining guests, exercising, or working from home. If you’re stretched for wall space, look to the backs of your doors as an alternative.
Multi-functional rooms need to store a whole lot more than your average, single-purpose space. Keep clutter at bay with creative storage options. Resource offers storage solutions to suit nearly any space need — everything from walk-in closets to shallow cabinets, shelving systems and wall hooks. You can easily pair a full-height shelving or cabinetry system with a space-saving wall bed to create the appearance of a seamless, wall-to-wall built-in.
If you’re not ready to install new cabinets or closets, there are plenty of low-tech storage options, too. Is your floor an obstacle course of children’s toys? (We’ve been there!) How about tossing those toys into open wire bins hung up on the bedroom walls? This is a great way to teach young kids how to tidy up after themselves, and it doesn’t eat up valuable under-bed storage or closet space. You can even hang up colorful tote bags on the back of your children’s bedroom doors for quickly stashing toys after they’re done playing.
Whatever storage options you choose, the key takeaway here is that everything in your multi-functional home needs its own designated storage spot. When every item has its home, it’s much easier to keep your space clean and find what you need in a pinch.
Your multi-purpose home should still feel homey, no matter how many other functions it may serve. You don’t want your bedroom to feel like an office cubicle, nor do you want your laid-back media room to feel like a stuffy, formal dining room.
If your furniture has to perform double-duty (think a wall bed that transforms into a sofa or desk), make sure the furniture still matches your style and décor in all of its various configurations. Our Cristallo table, for instance, transforms in height and length from a standard coffee table to a banquet table for ten — but its sleek, contemporary design suits nearly every environment so it never feels out of place no matter how it is being used.
Play with colors and textures to create a unifying theme across your home. Consistency across your color palettes and furniture styles and can truly take a multi-functional home from crowded to cohesive. Even when using wall colors to delineate spaces from one another (see our advice on delineating corner spaces), make sure your colors are complimentary — otherwise you run the risk of sensory overload.
When it comes to multi-functional rooms, it’s not about splitting your space in half down the middle — it’s about allocating your space according to how you’ll actually use it. If you only use your formal dining room on special occasions and holidays, why should all that square footage go to waste for the remainder of the year? If you only host overnight visitors every once in a while, why fill an entire spare room with a stationary guest bed that rarely ever sleeps guests? With transforming or fold-away furniture you don’t have to choose between a guest room or an office, a dining room or a den — so design your multi-functional space in a way that prioritizes the activities for which you’ll use them the most.
Resource Furniture offers a plethora of transforming and multifunctional furniture systems that enable you to maximize every square inch of your home:
In the wake of COVID-19, our home space needs to be more flexible than ever before.