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8 Great Ways to Finish a Bonus Room

Transform a Bonus Room to Reflect Your Lifestyle and Activities


Still as enticing as when it hit the architectural scene in the 1990s, the bonus room – typically unfinished space above the garage (or sometimes carved out of the attic) suitable for future living space – is now one of the most desirable features in modern home design. In fact, for today's home buyers – especially those with children – the bonus room is a priority. It is a definite "must-have" – not just a "wish list" item. And luckily, most home plans now come with bonus rooms that growing families can transform into more living space.

While the traditional guest/in-law suites, apartments above the garage, and attic rooms continue to be options, families are looking at more fashionable and adaptable designs and uses for bonus rooms. And with all the configurations the bonus room presents, people are thinking out of the box to create functional but exciting, unique, and trendy spaces.  

From the most typical to the out-of-the-ordinary, here's a look at several ways you can transform bonus-room square footage into a comfortable and stylishly designed living space.


1.  A Suite to Make Guests Feel at Home!

Long before bonus rooms became popular, one of the most sought-after features in a single-family home was an extra bedroom to accommodate overnight/weekend guests and visiting family and relatives. In homes that did not have that desired additional room, the basement, attic, and above-the-garage space were remodeled to create a guest room or an in-law suite. While building a bedroom in an area with weird angles and sloped ceilings presented challenges, homeowners have successfully renovated them into fantastic and wonderfully livable bedrooms.

As home plans have changed over the years – with a majority providing flex space to suit a family's lifestyles – more homeowners are now passing up the guest suite for other options.

Bunk room with two bunk beds and sitting area

Look at what you can do in your upstairs bonus room! A guest area – perfect for kids to teenagers – houses two bunk beds and a sitting area with a TV. The light-color walls – along with the double window and recessed lighting – make the room bright, airy, and big (Plan #202-1007).


2.  Home, Sweet Home Office

With more people working from home – either full time or on occasion – flex space can be designated as an office area or a corner where family members can sit down to pay bills, organize papers/essential documents, or plan activities. Depending on the needs and the budget, the space can be furnished as simply or as state-of-the-art as it demands.

Basically, all you need is a desk with drawers for files, chairs, a computer with an Internet connection, and a few shelves. If the space doesn't have a door, make sure that there's some partition for a bit of privacy - away from the day-to-day flow of family life.  

Home office in House Plan #116-1015

Streamlined and straightforward: A quiet corner with a great view in a 2-story, 3-bedroom modern Concrete Block style home becomes a home office furnished with the bare essentials: desk with drawers, laptop, printer, and chairs (Plan #116-1015).


3.  Movies, Anyone?

Do you love to have friends over for a movie night, a television special, or sporting events like the World Series and the Super Bowl? In that case, you can go all out and design your flex space into a media room/entertainment center – and enjoy the movies in the comfort of your own home.

In addition to a large-screen TV – fully equipped with a great sound system – it is a "must" to have comfortable seating and the best viewing configuration in the media room. Think of a sectional sofa and large throw pillows for kids. Dark colors – like navy or brown – work best for the walls, floors, and ceiling. You can also use curtains and ambient lighting for dramatic effect.

Media room in House Plan #161-1038

Comfortable lounge chairs, mood lighting, and a refreshment bar make this media room in a 2-story, 4-bedroom Shingle-style home the perfect home theater (Plan #161-1038)


4.  Games, Relaxation – and Refreshments

If you're not a movie buff but love to watch sports and play fun and exciting games with the family, a game room with a large-screen TV may be just the right option for your bonus space. Ideally, the game room can be equipped with basic accessories, including an oversized, comfortable couch, chairs, and a portable table for cards.

You may also consider billiards, foosball, and shuffleboard tables for the game room. Then finish off the design with a bar area for refreshments and snacks.  

Game room in House Plan #180-1020

This game room in a 2-story, 4-bedroom Country style home with Craftsman touches comes with a large-screen television, sofa, bar area, and foosball table (Plan #180-1020).


5.  A Place for the Kids

Your kids have long outgrown the nursery – which has since been converted into a guest bedroom. But there's this unfinished space on the second floor that's a project waiting to happen.

How about making that bonus room a kids' retreat? Make it a very casual space to entertain their friends, do their homework, read, play games, and even work on arts and crafts. Painting and furnishing the room can be a simple task. Don't go wild with paint colors – neutral or light pastels do the job. Install built-in shelves for books, puzzles, games; a desk for a computer/homework station; a large sofa and throw pillows or large bean bags; and television for video games and sporting events. 

And, voila! Your kids will have a dedicated space to pursue their particular interests – and have fun with their friends.

Kids' activity room in Home Plan #106-1281

Kids' play room in House Plan #106-1281

Here are two views of a bonus room in a 3-bedroom Ranch house plan that's been designed into a special place for kids, "tweens," and teens. Top: The pastel and neutral shades used to paint the room give it a relaxing effect. There's a sofa, coffee table, and large-screen TV.  Bottom: A desk with a computer and a toy truck in the corner complete the look of the "retreat." (Plan #106-1281)


6.  Exercise, Sweat, Relax, Repeat!

An appealing option for that unfinished space above the garage is to make it into an exercise room. A home gym is an excellent use of flexible space and a fantastic choice for people who don't want to deal with the wait to use equipment or pay monthly fees for health club memberships.

Now that there are no more excuses about not exercising enough, you can furnish the home gym with a few simple "starter" pieces of equipment. Move the treadmill and bike from the garage or basement into the exercise room. Get some free weights, a yoga mat, and a small television for workout videos.

Down the road, you may want to add a massage table and dedicate a corner for some aromatherapy to give your home gym the spa atmosphere. 

Home gym with weight machine, free weights and ping-pong table

Finish a bonus room as a home gym. Get the exercise bikes in the room, and add some free weights, a bench, and yoga mats – and you're all set (Plan #161-1097).


7.  Comfy Sleep Nook

Not precisely a bedroom, a sleeping nook is more like a "getaway spot" within the home where one can hide to read a book, listen to music, relax – or even take a short nap.

The nook can be a simple alcove in the basement, attic, within a huge extra closet in a bedroom – or incorporated into a larger bonus room. Paint the walls a soothing pastel shade, install built-in shelves for books, a lamp, and other knick-knacks.

Wherever it is, be sure to make it comfortable, cozy, and warm. Throw in regular pillows or large cushions, warm blankets, a small nightstand, and chairs. Who knows? This sleep nook may even come in handy if you need additional sleeping space for overnight guests. 

Resting spot in a home with pillows and cushions

Want some peace and quiet away from the family? Use your flex space to fashion a "nesting place" where you can escape by reading a book or listening to music (Photo: Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash). 


8.   Serene "Woman Cave Retreat," or Meditation Room

If men have their designated man cave, women have their quintessential cave retreat – or meditation room.

While a study, a home library, or a sleeping nook can give you respite from the family, another option for finishing a bonus room – that allows quiet time and moments for reflection – is a meditation room. Consider a few details to create a calming and soothing mood if you decide to go for that room:

  • Make it a feel-good space – clean and uncluttered, with very little traffic around it.
  • Choose a space where there's lots of natural light to brighten your mood as soon as you step into the room.
  • Put some flowers and plants in the room to connect you with nature.
  • Throw in a touch of aromatherapy – light incense, lavender oils, and candles. 

Meditation room

What about creating this attractive meditation room from your bonus space? From the paint to the furnishings, everything exudes a soothing and relaxing effect (Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash).



So if you have that additional square footage at home in the form of a bonus room, get ready to create an exciting and fun space that you will absolutely love!  


Footnote: The top photo in the lead image for this article is the family/TV room in a 2-story, 4-bedroom European-style home plan with Tudor and Victorian influences. For more details, click here (House Plan #153-1750).



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