A Room of Possibilities
Homeowners are getting creative with their “bonus” or “flex” rooms. Here’s how to make the most of your own multipurpose space.
The idea of a bonus or flex room—a multipurpose space that can be tailored to a homeowner’s individual needs—is certainly nothing new, but this past year, it experienced a renaissance of sorts at a time when many people are working, learning, dining, and overall just spending more time at home.
“I think what’s happening now is that people are appreciating flex rooms more. People decided they are going to have to spend more time at home, and they wanted their home to be more agreeable with their lifestyle,” says Chris Contreras, vice president of operations for M/I Homes.
With customizable floor plans and finishes, homeowners are getting creative and personalizing these spaces like never before, using them not only as home offices and virtual classrooms, but as areas for overnight guests, crafting, exercising, and movie watching, just to name a few purposes.
“The name ‘flex’ is a perfect descriptor; it’s as malleable as the rooms themselves,” says Jarrett Parks, vice president of city operations for D.R. Horton. “This is a terrific example of what makes new construction a tremendous opportunity. New builds offer not only the latest in contemporary finishes—such as colorful cabinets, or trendy backsplashes or flooring—but also in the layouts themselves. Builders can design floor plans that reflect how society is actually living in and using their homes.”
Here, Housing First Minnesota professionals offer their expert tips for making the most of your bonus room.
First of all, redefine bonus room.
The term bonus room can be a little misleading, because a flex space doesn’t necessarily have to be a large area, or even a whole room. Depending on what you need it for, your bonus room could be an alcove in a hallway, or perhaps a walk-in closet. “Some people say they can’t afford a bonus room, but it doesn’t have to be a 12-by-15-foot space,” says Fieldstone Family Homes owner, Bryan Wolfe, recalling a 7-by-8-foot space he built for one homeowner’s collection of Minnesota Twins memorabilia. “It can be whatever size you need for what you want to use it for.”
Evaluate what you’re missing now.
The ability to customize a home to your specific needs is likely the reason you’re building new, so before the blueprints are finalized, take a look around your current living space. What room are you missing now that you wish you had, and what would you use it for? The answers to those questions can help you plan the size, location, and layout of your ideal bonus room.
Think about how the space will grow with you.
Sure, right now your bonus room may be a home office or a virtual classroom, but that’s likely to change as a family evolves from, say, raising young kids to becoming empty-nesters. A flex space may serve many purposes over the years, from a playroom to a homework den to a home gym. “It’s so fundamental to how we live in our homes to have a space that allows us to flex with the way that we grow,” says Angela Nuessle, national vice president of interior design for the Pulte Group.
Find a central location for the space.
Keeping in mind that the intent for your bonus room may change over the years, placing it in a central location within the home, such as the main floor, will give you the most flexibility to meet your current and future needs for the space.
Put the “fun” in function.
At the core of its design, a bonus room should be furnished with functionality in mind. Think: a coffee table that converts into a desk, built-ins that serve the dual purpose of storage space and casual seating, and layered lighting that properly illuminates the area for the tasks at hand. “You want the furniture to be durable because you’re going to be using the space for different types of activities,” says Nuessle. But that doesn’t mean aesthetics should be put on the backburner. In fact, a bonus room can be the perfect opportunity to go a little bolder than you would in other areas of your home. “You want it to be warm, you want it to be inviting,” she adds, “so don’t shy away from color or patterns because it should be intriguing and playful.”
Written By Taylor Hugo