Most of us — whether living in a studio apartment or a multi-bedroom family home — already had a pre-existing need for multifunctional space in our homes. Find yourself spreading out your work set up over the dining room table? Living room now home to your dumbbell sets and half-rolled yoga mat? Multifunctional living at its best (except — not quite).
Those of us with the privilege of working from home will likely be doing so for the foreseeable future. And even if you’re still headed to work during the day, in many parts of the United States schools remain closed, as do out-of-home amenities like gyms. That means what space we do have available to us will be utilized in as multifunctional a way as it has perhaps ever been.
Feeling trapped in your house? Not sure how to make this whole “multifunctional” thing… well, actually functional? No stress — whether you’re setting up an in-home homeroom, office, gym or entertainment space, we’ve got tips and tricks galore to make your home feel as though it was never meant to be used any other way.
First thing’s first: get rid of what doesn’t work
That clunky coffee table that takes up the majority of your living room? Those decorative armchairs no one actually ever sits in? Might be worth your time to consider removing them, along with any other clutter taking up valuable real estate.
Do a physical walk-through of your home: think furniture, books or decorations. If you’ve got a guest room, for example, think about how it could be reworked to suit your needs: does it really need a desk or a dresser? Could it possibly play host to your weight bench and dumbbells instead?
Clearing away clutter in general is an excellent way to maximize the space available to you. Been lugging old storage bins with you move after move — but still haven’t found yourself missing their contents? Now is the time to sort through, throw what’s not needed away, and use that newly-discovered space well.
Make the most of your furniture.
Speaking of furniture — the way you’ve designed and decorated a room can dictate how many ways it can be used. For renters in small apartments, nifty, inventive additions like drop-down desks, fold-up beds or easily-stored bulletin/whiteboards can turn a small bedroom into a workspace or a classroom just for the day.
Don’t have a guest room or a dining room available to utilize? Problem solved — the temporary, flexible nature of your furniture means you can call any room your office or your child’s math classroom during day hours. Downsizing furniture can be just as impactful. That stately (ahem… clunky) desk that takes up an entire half of your home office? Get rid of it for something sleek – and space saving. Trust us.
Get smart about storage.
Speaking of living in small spaces, a tip most studio-apartment goers are probably familiar with: make even your storage do the work. Multi-use pieces like hollow ottomans, bed frames with built-in drawers or compartments or over-the-bed shelving (Google it) are the cheat codes of space saving. You can also never go wrong with floating shelves — no need to keep your storage to the floor, which brings us to our next trick.
Use all the space you have.
We’ve mentioned floating shelves as a way to get your storage off the ground. Think bigger, though: utilize your walls.
Wall storage is versatile — and just like any free space, it’s valuable real estate. Struggling to store your bike? Wishing you had a better place to put toys or dirty clothes? There’s floating storage for that. The flexibility it grants you is very much similar to your drop-down desk or fold-up beds. No need to have your bike take up so much space in your garage — or, who are we kidding — in that hallway between the bedroom and your kitchen. Likewise, break out the toys, and your living room becomes a playroom for a few hours. (Put them away, and you can pretend like they were never even there.) Don’t forget about outdoor or semi-outdoor spaces.
If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space available to you in your home, use them purposefully: don’t just line the shelves of your garage or porch with old storage boxes, for example. Though this goes back heartily to our first tip — throw away what you don’t need — outdoor spaces can be multifunctional, too.
Perhaps most importantly — if you’re finding yourself over exposed in your yard or on your porch, create your own cover. Whether you’re dodging the sun or summer thunderstorms, investing in the right outdoor umbrella or even a small awning can reclaim an outdoor space once too exposed to the elements to use.
From there, create an outdoor work, study or workout area by investing in some quality outdoor furniture.
Smart, skin-deep renovations.
If you own a home and are assessing how to make it permanently more multifunctional, you may choose to move in the remodel/renovation model. Removing or partially removing an unnecessary wall between two rooms, for example, could help you create a larger floor plan. (At a more superficial level, you might consider built-in shelving or even removing carpet and putting in hard-wood, which tends to be a more versatile flooring).
More serious undertakings like finishing a basement or having a patio put in, too, can help expand the usable space available to you, too. It may be helpful to consult with a general contractor near you for personalized advice -- and, if you decide you're ready to remodel, you can use Punch List to streamline the process.
It may be true that for the time being we’re all very much confined to our homes — more than we’ve ever been. But there’s no reason your home can’t play host to all of your space needs, and it’s easier than it looks to make it that way, whether you decide to utilize furniture that’s right for your space or finally finish your basement.