6 tips for designing multi-functional spaces

25 November 2021

With people spending more time at home than ever before, it’s never been more important to be savvy with space.

When building a forever home, it’s tempting to focus on dedicating whole rooms to your passions. Who wouldn’t want a home theatre, gym or billiards room of your very own?

But, for most of us, space and funds are limited. Thinking about the spaces we have in different ways can open up a new world of options.

Here are six things to think about when designing multi-functional spaces in your new home.

1. Star Performer

Using one space for many different purposes allows for flexibility as your family requirements change.

“(Multi-functional rooms) is a feature we’re seeing in a lot of homes,” Cameron Kusher, executive manager of economic research at REA Group says.

“It’s about keeping your options open so that it’s not necessarily just one type of space.”

Popular options that have evolved through COVID-19 include using the garage as a gym, workshop or dance studio and the living room as a home office.

Other ideas include the rumpus room as a children’s playroom or teenage retreat and setting up a granny flat for guests or grandparents to stay in.

2. Make it big

A few years ago, we saw small nooks pop up in our kitchens and atop stair landings as study spaces or utility zones.

But with more of us working from home, designers are thinking bigger when creating tomorrow’s floor plans.

“We’re now looking at creating a separate studio,” says Keith Fuller, senior designer at Porter Davis Homes. “This could be the work from home studio, or it could be the kids’ study space.”

The trick is careful positioning.

“It’s about appointing a space that is well located in the design [and considering] where it sits,” says Keith. “For instance, making sure your master bedroom isn’t backing onto the same wall that could be a home gym.

4. Intelligent interiors

Open plan living is fantastic, but too often designers left doors off and let spaces interplay.

“After seeing what it’s like having everyone at home 24/7, we need to be a little cautious around the zoning of space,” Keith says.

Open plan, well, opens things up!

Options like floor-to-ceiling double doors on the study can provide the best of both worlds – privacy and connection.

“Sliding doors are a great way to open rooms, not only doubling the size of the space but also bringing the outside in,” he says.

Similarly, choosing interior items that can be tucked away or pulled out for entertaining is also a smart way to maximise space.

Think coffee tables with built-in storage, stools that transform into tables and island benches that double as work areas.

5. Design mindset

If you adopt a design mindset, you’ll be able to realise your home’s full potential.

“You need to associate the space as having multiple uses,” Keith says. “And then you’ll be able to visualise how each room can serve different purposes.”

For instance, if the room has power and lighting, Keith says these rooms can transform into a home office, or even a home theatre, down the track.

Careful planning will ensure that your home can seamlessly switch to different functions when it needs to.

6. Future proofing

Buying a new home can be an expensive exercise and the stakes are even higher if you’re building a forever home.

“We are definitely seeing properties turn over less because prices are higher,” says Cameron. “This also means agents’ fees are higher as well as stamp duty.”

To avoid the spiralling costs of buying and selling, plan for extra space at the start of your home journey, so you never need to move.

“If you’re going to be living somewhere for a long time, what you might need when your kids are young might be very different as they get older,” Cameron says.

“You really need that flexibility as you get older and as your family life cycle changes.”

All pictures are courtesy of Porter Davis. 

This article was originally published on realestate.com.au.