In March 2019 the median U.S. home price hit the $300,000 mark for the first time, an increase of seven percent. That means making better use of the space you can afford, because buying a bigger home may not be an option. Here are a few space-sharing ideas for multi-use rooms that may save your family’s sanity.
Create a Kitchen/Dining Room Combination
We just don’t live as formally as we used to, and we tend to meet friends for dinner at restaurants. That means dining rooms are often completely wasted spaces, dusted and polished once or twice a year. Why not reclaim this room for another purpose—home office, game or media room, library—and revamp your kitchen so it works as a dining room, too.
Installing an island with a sink on one side and a bar table on the other means you can entertain your guests while you’re washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables. They can watch you cook, and you won’t have to constantly run back and forth from the living room to the kitchen to make sure nothing’s burning. The bar table works well for on-the-run family breakfasts, too. You can also have a regular height, more formal sit-down table at the other end of the kitchen for when you do entertain; simply direct your guests from the living room to your kitchen/dining room when you’re ready to serve.
Guest Room/Home Office
Unless you have guests often, the guest room is another under-utilized area in most homes. If you have overnight guests less than once a month, or for very short stays, it doesn’t make sense to devote so much floor space to a bed that’s rarely used. There are so many sleek, elegant, comfortable and affordable hide-a-beds available these days that it makes a lot more sense to use the guest bedroom as a home office and relocate if, and when, you have overnight guests. Chances are good you won’t be trying to work from home when you’ve got house guests anyway. Fold down Murphy beds are another option, and there are many new models and designs available.
If, however, you want to keep the guest room as a guest room, you can still create a home office in your guest room closet, if it’s large enough (cloffice is the not-quite-official name for this use of space). Now that printers and routers are wireless, they don’t even have to be in the same room as your laptop. It’s easy to add extra shelving to closet walls. In fact, you might find you focus better when the only visual distraction is your computer screen.
Even if you do laundry every single day, you probably spend no more than 10 minutes in your laundry room. That’s why it makes sense to make it a dual-purpose room and install pantry shelving or even an old set of kitchen cupboards that have been repainted or refaced.
Almost every new washer and dryer is stackable, so take advantage of that and get your appliances installed vertically. You can also buy drawers for under the washer and dryer to safely store detergent, bleach, stain remover, and fabric softener right under the machines (and out of sight).
If you’ve got a laundry room that also serves as a mudroom and back or side entrance to your home, buy a storage bench for near the door and install as many hooks as you can for coats and jackets. Coats are bulky, and only the ones you wear on a daily basis should be taking up front hall closet space.
Rather than store out-of-season clothes in every family member’s room, create a winter storage area in the laundry room. You can fit a lot of clothes in a blanket box and an armoire, and neither take up a lot of floor space.
Make sure all your furniture is space-sensitive and create a design strategy that favors dual- or multi-purpose rooms. Take advantage of corners and try to find corner desks or shelving units. Dining tables that expand with leaves and ones that fold down when not in use are always huge space savers. Ottomans and coffee tables are great opportunities for storing occasional-use items like board games and magazines. Instead of just a small table in your front hallway, use a small dresser instead. Be creative and invest in a variety of storage pieces. It’ll be a lot easier to keep everything in its place once you’ve created a place for everything.