Style Guide For Multipurpose Rooms

Tara Dickinson
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What To Put In & How To Organize a Multipurpose Room

Multipurpose rooms, also called “flex rooms”, are doubling and tripling their function while making the most of a space and providing several options in one room. As the trend of multitasking in the home environment continues to surge, people are creating rooms for multiple functions. Interior designers are referring to this trend as "hiving". Home has become a place where we are incorporating activities that might have been done elsewhere, such as theater, entertainment, work, retreat, exercise, and other hobbies.

  • For a successful multipurpose room, you need to first access the space.
  • Secondly, you need to prioritize the functions you want to accommodate.
  • Multipurpose spaces work best when ‘zones’ are designated.
  • List activities and items you'll need to support those ventures.
  • You may need to literally break down walls if you favor a larger multipurpose room.

Outlined below are ways to design a versatile multi-use space and ideas for room combinations. 

multipurposeUse Color & Texture For Definition

Paint colors and other wall coverings are the best ways to orchestrate a space. Breaking up a large singular area is easily accomplished by choosing different colors for each zone. And this goes for both small and large spaces, anywhere you want to make an impact with some big style.

  • Light colors open a space, make ceilings appear higher, and walls expand.
  • Dark colors lower ceilings and tighten or close in a space.
  • For a feeling of spaciousness in a multipurpose room, a unified color theme pulls the look together and creates a sense of cohesion.
  • Going bold is good; don’t feel shy in picking strong colors or textures. Many of these are the same points used when wanting to make an impact in small spaces.
  • Using color to designate one functioning space from another in a large room is a creative way to make these separations.
  • Texture serves a similar purpose. For example, outfit a study nook with an energizing color, while painting the dining area in more soothing shades with inviting furnishings to invoke relaxation.
  • Use different accent colors at each end of the room.
  • BONUS: Using different colors and textures in flooring is another effective way to define areas in a multipurpose space.

Maximize Light

Artful use of light is another way to delineate space in a multipurpose room. Light has the power to make a space feel and look larger as well as change the ambiance and mood.

  • The goal is to have visibility in all corners of the room.
  • Incorporating a variety of different ways of expressing the lighting gives you options on controlling the mood of the space as well.
  • Take advantage of any and all natural lighting.
  • Also incorporate table lamps, ceiling lights, wall sconces, under-cabinet lighting, and accent lighting on art works.
  • This provides maximum illumination and gives the room the best chance of functioning at its highest capacity.

Mirrors Are Essential

Mirrors are magical, working on reflective surfaces thus having the advantage of adding depth and expansiveness when used correctly.

  • Mirrors reflect natural light to make the room look larger.
  • Position them facing windows to maximize the effect.
  • Layering more than one is another wonderful visual adventure.
  • An oversized mirror or a gallery wall of mirrors in different sizes and shapes is a great way to add the illusion of more square footage into any space.
  • This bounces lighting within the space, making everything look even brighter.

Versatile Furniture

A multi-use room needs multi-use furnishings. Pieces that can morph from one function to another are the most efficient for these types of spaces, keeping you organized as well.

  • Stacked side tables can get endless use, from workstations, to group meals, to crafts and such for the kids.
  • Ottomans are another versatile furniture piece that can act as a footrest, a coffee table, or extra seating.
  • The famous sleeper sofas are an excellent choice  to include in any multipurpose room.
  • Storage cabinets such as armoires make for a nice home office set up, or as entertainment centers, plus storage for kitchen overflow and the kids' things.
  • Storage chests can act as a side table or additional seating space with some throw pillows on top.

TIP: Mobility- to make a multi-use space really function, having furniture that is easy to move is important. Pieces on wheels or placing casters under furniture legs will keep your items portable and rearrange as needed.

Importance of Storage

Good storage is key to keeping hardworking multipurpose rooms from becoming a chaotic mess. One ideal way to make the most of your space includes:

  • Building vertical: take any bookcases, open shelving, or storage type cabinets up to the ceiling.
  • This floor-to-ceiling design also visually enlarges a room.

Additional Form & Function Tips for Multipurpose Rooms

Design a multipurpose room with these additional tips that effortlessly balance form with function.

  • Rethink closets: they can be great spaces for small offices, a cozy reading nook, a laundry room, or a makeshift crafts area.
  • Vertical shelving units, tall cabinetry, or other similar storage units can act as transition pieces, merging form and function.
  • Vertical storage takes full advantage of a room’s footprint with the bonus of keeping the floor space open and inviting.
  • Remember to add elements of comfort; functional doesn’t have to mean utilitarian. Decorating with personal items is another way to express your creativity and make the space your own.


Home Office & Guest Room

Especially these days, guest rooms may go unused for good lengths of time. Make the most of this space by creating a two-for. To keep your home office ready for guests here are a few ways to organize this multipurpose room:

  • Instead of a mattress and box spring, switch out the bed for a compact sleeper sofa. This frees up space for a desk space as well as providing a comfortable place to rest when you need a work break.
  • Use closet organizers, file cabinets, and shelves for books or binders to keep the space tidy at all times.
  • Built-in shelves can also turn this multipurpose room into a home library nook.
  • Use versatile furniture pieces that can do double-duty, such as file cabinets disguised as a side table or an armoire that can hide a computer workstation. 

Ideas other than an office include: arts and crafts room, sewing room, exercise room, or kids study room.

Home Office & Gym

In the new work-from-home age, a home office and gym combo has become another popular multipurpose room concept. Use this quiet place to focus on work while simultaneously getting in a workout without disturbing others. Tips for this type of setup include:

  • Create two zones: work space and workout equipment area.
  • An L-shaped or corner desk will free up floor space for mats to do yoga, Pilates, free weights, or a step class.
  • Organize any exercise equipment in baskets, keeping the room organized.
  • This type of multipurpose room combination works ideally for lighter exercises or the inclusion of maybe one stationary machine in a corner.
  • An area rug centers the space and keeps it feeling like home versus a more sterile environment.

Basement: Entertainment, Kitchenette & Laundry Room

Basement spaces have huge potential and can be redone for several functions depending on the amount of space you have. Whatever the choice, including a small kitchenette provides extra convenience. A mini kitchen only needs a few elements to function:

  • Small sink, mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and water dispenser.
  • Keep the laundry area concealed behind cupboard doors.
  • Keep the color scheme on the bright and light side.
  • Take advantage of all the wall space and hang shelves and cabinets to organize whatever you intend to use the area for.

Dining Room & Library + Activity Space

If you have a traditional dining room as well as a breakfast nook, you probably notice people gravitating towards one space more than the other. To take advantage of the lesser used space, transform it into a multipurpose room. By adding shelving and creating a work-friendly space, the dining room can transform into an activity room or even a cozy home library for some rejuvenating down time. Here are a few ideas on how to transform a spare dining space into a multipurpose room:

  • Create a home library with built-in bookcases and inspiring artwork.
  • A library ladder makes an excellent addition.
  • Adding a plush rug keeps the area warm and pleasant.
  • For a kid-friendly classroom you can add drop-down tables, rolling file cabinets, and containers with school and craft supplies.


Prioritizing the activities you want to accomplish most followed by an honest assessment of the available space is the first step to planning your multipurpose room. Then following the outline for colors, furnishings, and other accents that make the most of the space will complete your multi-use room decor.


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