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What to do with an extra room in your home

LIVE brighter | 9 MIN READ | 2020-05-15

If you’re lucky enough to have an extra room (or two) in your home, there couldn’t be a better time to make the most of it. There are so many more possibilities for these unused spaces beyond storage or a guest room – and given how we’re currently adapting to life indoors, these 12 ingenious ideas may inspire you to find the space you need without adding square footage. Read on.

A work space 

Woman in jeans and shirt talking on a cellphone in a home office

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Needless to say, a dedicated work space is a pretty high priority right now. If you find yourself playing musical chairs between the counter, the dining room and your lap to accommodate everyone else in your home who needs to focus, a home office may be just what you need. 

A home office offers the luxury of a door you can close (no offense, family), and a place that motivates you to be more productive and hone in on your creativity. Now that time alone is a precious commodity for some, having the ability to escape and focus on tasks is not just a nice to have - it’s a must.

The fun part is, you can set up and decorate the space in a way that’s truly motivating – whether you repurpose furniture you already have, pick up basics at IKEA or have a desk and shelving custom built. We love some of these stylish ideas from The Spruce to add personality to your home office:

• Choose a bold wallpaper that really speaks to you and helps get you excited for the day ahead. This is an opportunity to do something different and experiment with patterns and textures – especially if you choose removable wallpaper or decals.

• Add greenery to bring life to the office, filter the air and give off a sense of calm.

• Bring in a comfy chair that gives you a break from the more rigid desk chair. Stepping away and changing positions can help with clarity and get your creative juices flowing.

• Add string lights for a little touch of twinkle and a warm glow. Getting the lighting just right in your home office can change your entire mindset.

• Float your desk in the middle of the room and line the walls with bookcases stocked with resources, art, jars of candy or trail mix and other supplies. This simple trick will make your home office feel like a “real” office – and your workday feel pretty legit. 

• Hang a gallery of artwork your kids have created, favourite quotes, postcards and prints. All of these things will inspire you to do your very best work.  

• Remove window coverings to let the sunshine in and add natural light. If you’re in there for hours on end, you’ll appreciate it.

If the idea is to share the space with your partner or kids, there are lots of great ways to do this without compromising anything – like one long desk divided in two, two desks side-by-side, or an L-shaped desk that hugs a corner. 

The main thing is to create a clear delineation between work or school time and home life. You may even want to dress the part each day as though you’re headed to work!

A fun zone 

Indoor swing in a little girls bedroom

Photo by Jelena Mirkovic on Unsplash

With kids at home (All. Day. Long.), it’s not easy to keep them entertained in between work, homeschooling and the everyday realities of life. That extra room is the perfect place to set up a “kids only” playroom, where toys, video games and art supplies are all in one spot and not scattered about the house. 

A few ideas to add to the fun: 

Paint an entire wall with chalkboard paint 

Add a window bench for the perfect sunny day reading spot

Decorate with wall decals – there are so many great options!

Have a tickle trunk full of old clothes and costumes for dress up time

Hang colourful bins for crayons, pipe cleaners and other art supplies so they’re easy to grab – and put away

Suspend a DIY swing and make it a spot everyone wants to hang out in  

Consider the type of flooring that makes the most sense here, like an easy-to-clean laminate hardwood or tile instead of carpet, and add a washable throw rug for a bit of softness for reading or playing on the floor. 

A fitness room

Mom doing yoga with her toddler daughter

Photo by Valeria Ushakova from Pexels

This one is a no-brainer, now that public spaces are closed for the time being and we’re looking for ways to stay fit at home. If you have a spare room to turn into a home gym, all you need is a set of free weights, a yoga mat, a stationary bike or treadmill (scour Kijiji for deals) and a great playlist and you’re all set. You may want to add a full length mirror, set up a table with lemon water and towels and have cleaning wipes at the ready for the full gym experience. 

A maker space 

Woman sitting in a chair painting a bowl

Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels

Many of us have taken up new hobbies while self-isolating, like knitting, painting, photography and calligraphy. Why not take it the next level and create a space just for crafting? We turned to the ultimate maker, Martha Stewart, for tips on how best to set up your space. She suggests things like:

Organizing pens, pencils and markers by colour 

Creating a wrapping station with everything you need to wrap the ultimate gift, like scissors, tape, ribbon and pretty paper

Using colour-coded cubes to organize yarn, fabric and other supplies

Installing a peg board to keep ribbon handy

Hanging a bulletin board to pin up inspirational mood boards

We suggest a portable island with a butcher block top for durability, like this one from IKEA – perfect for stashing baskets and supplies and keeping everything tidy. Check out The Spruce and HGTV for other great tips.

Looking for some fun craft projects to try? Check out Design Improvised and be prepared to tap into your inner crafter.

A media room 

Living room with a tv and a guitar in the corner, black out window treatments

Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

Sometimes it’s nice to have a separate room just for Netflix binging, away from your main TV room (and maybe any teenagers at home). There’s nothing wrong with a little alone time after a lot of togetherness. Set up a big screen TV, hook up a soundbar, consider a sink-into-it sectional and don’t forget blackout blinds. We have a feeling you may never want to leave.

A game room 

little boy with a virtual reality headset on

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Have you always wanted a room to hang out in as a family? That extra room in your home can take on a whole new life as a game room, complete with a pool table, dart board, table tennis or a retro pinball machine. Paint the walls a dark navy or blue/black, add a cool light fixture, install a big screen TV for epic PS4 tournaments and fill it with all the makings for a fun night in. You may even want to add in a wet bar for easy-to-grab beverages and snacks. Done!

A reading room

pillows and throws with books piled up on a bench

Photo by Krisztina Papp from Pexels

Reading is a great escape from the real world, and that’s a pretty appealing thought right now. Surround yourself in a sea of books on floor to ceiling shelves and set up a couple of cozy, reclining chairs and floor pillows, make sure the lighting is just right, make a fresh pot of tea and immerse yourself in a literary adventure. The great thing is, a home library doesn’t have to take up the whole room, so you can easily keep it as a guest room filled with lots of great diversions for visitors.  

And remember, libraries have a “no talking” policy, so why not enforce it at home, too?

A lounge

Lounge room with woman talking on phone and holding a glass of wine

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Rather than give up this prime space to the kids, consider turning it into a “grown up” room – a lounge with an island, mini fridges, stools and maybe even a beer tap or coffee bar! Install a flat screen TV and a Bluetooth soundbar, and It’s a great spot to unwind and catch the game, host a cocktail party or just hang out. Friday night Zoom call? You know where they’ll find you. And given “going out” is off limits right now, we’d say this is a pretty good way to unwind, don’t you think?

A music room

A girl in a yellow sweater playing guitar at home

Photo by Jessica Cao on Unsplash

Whether you or someone in your family is a seasoned musician or taking up a new instrument for the first time while quarantining, a dedicated music room is a great option. It’ll keep speakers, amplifiers and large instruments like a piano out of the main living area, and any “noise” associated with learning at bay. If soundproofing isn’t an option, consider heavy drapes, layered rugs and upholstered furniture to help buffer sound.

The ultimate walk-in closet 

Walk in closet with lots of clothes

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love a closet “room”? Imagine if you will, walls lined with cabinets, a dresser or ottoman in the centre and room for all of your things (and then some). No longer do the winter sweaters need to be packed away in bins or clothes switched over every season. Your clothes, shoes and accessories can all live together in one big happy closet. Need we say more? 

A green room and artist studio

indoor plants growing inside

Photo by Huy Phan from Pexels

If your spare room happens to be on the ground level and you can easily add an exterior door, a great idea is to turn it into a green room, where plants, herbs, flowers and vegetables can thrive before being transplanted to the outdoor gardens. Install lots of shelving for plants to enjoy sunlight, and to store supplies. A large sink is a must for cutting flower stems, watering plants and washing freshly picked produce. 

Why stop at a green thumb only? Paint it red, blue and yellow, too by sharing the space with an easel. Grab your artist’s smock, water colours and acrylics (or any other medium you’d like to try) and express yourself. It’s a great way to relax and get your mind off things while creating beautiful and interesting pieces for your home. Keep in mind no one is judging you – just enjoy.

A quiet room 

A basket chair with a pink pillow next to a white cabin and a record player

Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

In these crazy, unpredictable times, more and more people are turning to self-reflection, meditation and personal development. The extra room in your home can be transformed into a Zen space with neutral walls, soft rugs and pillows, chill music and natural light – no technology allowed. Make it a habit to wake early and watch the sun rise, breathe deeply and listen to Headspace or Calm. Grounding yourself in these practices can help you through any anxiety you may be feeling right now, and give you the foundation for mindful living from now on. 

Having an extra room in your home to turn into something incredible truly is a luxury. Enjoy it, embrace it and make the most of it – now and for years to come.

Have other ideas for turning your spare rooms into great rooms? Let us know!