It’s time to work the room
Whether it’s a third bedroom or an addition over your garage, many homes have a bonus room—and just as many homeowners don’t know what to do with the space. As a result, these rooms become catch-alls for mismatched furniture, random decor, and storage.
Reclaim that space by converting it into something usable and beautiful. From guest suites to home libraries to a plant lover’s paradise, here are 14 creative ways to use that spare room.
1. Purposeful Playroom
For many of us, a bonus room ends up being a catch-all. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the trick to making that extra room feel usable and not overcrowded is to curate. Becky of Our Abq Abode has a bonus room that looks both inviting and stylish.
“We call this the ‘playroom,’ but really it’s a multi-purpose room,” she says. The room houses games, toys, a TV, a bar, and a pool table, but it also serves as a home office and a place to do school work. “We spend a lot of time in this room for different reasons, which made decorating and furnishing it very difficult.”
Her advice to anyone trying to hone in on their multi-purpose room’s purpose? Designate zones for different functions to help the room feel more defined overall. Her other tip for homeowners is, “Use a consistent and cohesive color palette to tie all the different areas/functions together,” Becky says. “Try to balance textures and tones, so your eye moves around the space.”
2. Moody Man Cave
Using a room's best assets as your guidepost is a great way to determine just what kind of direction you want to go with your bonus space. In this case, homeowner Jennifer Cox turned what was a plain room into “a dark and moody study” for her husband.
She created a dramatic focal point by painting the entire fireplace wall, including the built-ins and the surround, the same deep green color. To see the transformation, check out her before pictures.
3. Restful Retreat
A spare room is a great way to experiment with a bold, all-over color that you might not use in other rooms in your house. This extra room designed by Angela Free Design doubles as a media room and a guest room. The vibrant deep blue color is a welcome contrast from the lighter colors throughout the residence, and the luxe decor and soft lighting make it feel like an escape from the rest of the world.
4. Fill the Space
Although you don’t want your spare room to be a place for clutter or decor you can’t place elsewhere, don’t be afraid to fill the space. A multi-purpose room should be functional and stylish, so fill it with the things you need and the things you love. Melissa Marcus of Melissa Marcus Designs curated this bonus room (captured by photographer Keyanna Bowen) for clients who had several requests. “
When it comes to a spare, it's important to talk about the functions the client needs and then put those needs together in a stylish way,” Marcus says. Part of what makes this room work is that it is unapologetically multi-use. It has a comfy couch, a big table, and a desk. But because Marcus curated and styled the furniture purposefully, it feels welcoming and not crowded.
5. Lots of Living
There’s no reason to stick to “rules” when claiming your spare room for new use. Artist Lesli DeVito of My Old Country House has not one, but two living rooms. The side-by-side living rooms connect via pocket doors, a common feature in Victorian-era homes when one of the rooms was likely used as a formal parlor. Instead of using the bonus room for something conventional like a guest room or home office, Lesli opted instead to have two living rooms.
Both are arranged with comfortable couches and chairs, and one houses the television and electronics, while the other is more of a quiet room. Lesli decorated the rooms with her signature mix of pastels and patterns.
6. Botanical Bonus
Creating a tropical oasis right in your own home can be a restorative hobby that also helps purify the air in your home. With the popularity of houseplants, more and more homeowners have become plant parents. If your plant obsession is spilling over, it may be time to consider a green room, like Michelle Opela, Senior Integrated Pest Manager at Costa Farms, who uses her dedicated plant room as a place to decompress.
“I am one of the many plant parents out there that just ended up with so many plants that a few shelves and window sills no longer cut it,” Opela explains. If you want to create a plant paradise of your own, Michelle advises grouping plants together to help keep the humidity up. She also recommends using lights on timers to be sure your plants are getting the light they need. “You don’t need the high-tech expensive grow lights; I have found that LED T5s do just as good of a job, or better than other ‘grow lights’ on the market.”
7. Office Oasis
Your home office doesn’t have to be completely private, but it should have doors. Ideally, French doors. Just because your home doesn’t have a set of beautiful French doors already doesn’t mean you can’t add them, even if the doorway to your office is a traditional size. Christina Lauzon of Our Bould Life and enlarged the standard entrance of this office to accommodate the antique French doors. Once that was complete, it was a matter of painting, adding fabulous wallpaper, and swapping the light fixture. The doors now look like they were there all along.
8. Book Haven
If you’re a bibliophile, chances are you’ve got books in every room of your house. You can convert a spare room or extra nook in your home into a library without spending a ton of money. If you don’t have the know-how to create your custom built-in shelves, you can consider hiring a local carpenter to build them for you, particularly if you have a room with angles or alcoves.
Alternatively, a homeowner can assemble modular shelving or pre-made bookshelves in just a few hours. Take over an entire wall (or three) to replicate the floor-to-ceiling books befitting a proper library. Don’t forget to anchor your shelves, because a wall of books can get heavy. Add a comfy chair or two and a floor lamp, and you’ll soon find yourself in a little literary heaven all your own.
9. Pretend Play Paradise
With children in the home, the reality is that toys end up everywhere. If the bins in the corner of the living room or your kid’s room just don’t cut it anymore, a bonus room dedicated to the world of imagination can serve a dual purpose: your children have a place to play, and the toys stay (relatively) contained.
Take your child’s playroom to the next level by adding whimsical paint and textures, a mural, or cheerful wallpaper. Add plenty of storage, arts and craft supplies, and a cozy rug. Don’t forget a chair for the grown-ups to sit in. As the kids get older, you can convert it to their tastes and include a study space or gaming center
10. Fitness Hub
The treadmill that’s become a clothing rack can get a new lease on life when you dedicate an extra room in your home to working out. It doesn’t need to be the largest room in your house, just big enough to hold the gear you use the most.
With lots of space-saving, folding options for exercise equipment, that oddly shaped room you can’t quite fit a guest bed is a great candidate for a home gym. Don’t overlook spaces like enclosed porches that are too chilly for a regular hangout in the winter: Once your blood gets pumping, you’ll welcome the cool air, and you’ll be motivated to work hard to get warm.
11. Artistic Escape
A room with a view and lots of natural light is an artist's dream. But even if you aren’t a renowned oil painter, dedicating an entire room to it can be liberating if you have a creative outlet. Whether that’s painting, writing, textile arts, or scrapbooking, having a space that not only holds all of your supplies but that inspires you is any creative person’s dream. Commandeer an odd-shaped room with great light, or a small room with a fabulous view, or even an unused basement bedroom that you can makeover to your heart’s content with dramatic colors and wallpaper.
12. Suite Dreams
Of all the extra rooms in your house, the guest room may be the one that you end up valuing the most. Having house guests can be a joy, but navigating a more extended visit can be challenging when they’re in your living room or office. Offering guests a space of their own is a luxury that is worth investing in, particularly if you have frequent out-of-town company.
You may want to keep the decor minimal, but little welcoming touches like fresh flowers, a water pitcher, or a basket with toiletries can be added before guests arrive. Store dedicated guest room blankets, sheets, and towels in the guest room closet or dresser to simplify your life when you’re expecting visitors.
13. Walk-in Wardrobe
If you’ve always dreamed of having a walk-in closet, you can convert an entire room into one. You can use a smaller room, or choose one with a beautiful window and plenty of light. To turn your spare room into your dream closet, start with a blank canvas and measurements. Evaluate your clothing, shoes, and accessories to determine how much shoe storage, drawers, or hanging closet space you need. Keep your eye out for an oversized mirror, a cozy rug, and a chair or two to complete the space.