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) that is suitable as future living space – is now one of the most desirable features in modern home design. In fact, for today’s home buyer – 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 a number of ways you can transform bonus-room square footage into 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. For home plans 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 a space with weird angles and sloped ceilings presented challenges, homeowners have succeeded in renovating them into amazing 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.
Look at what you can do in your basement! A beautiful guest suite finds a home in the basement space. The white furnishings – along with the small window - make the room bright, airy, and big (photo courtesy Angie's List).
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/important documents, or plan activities. Depending on the needs and the amount of projects, 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 Internet connection, and a few shelves. If the space doesn’t have a door, make sure that there’s some kind of partition for a little privacy - away from the day-to-day flow of family life.
Simple and streamlined: A quiet corner with a great view in a 2-story, 3-bedroom modern Concrete Block style home plan becomes a home office furnished with the bare essentials: desk with drawers, laptop, printer, and chairs (House Plan #116-1015).
3. Movies, Anyone?
Do you love to have friends over for a movie night, a television special, 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.
Comfortable lounge chairs, mood lighting, and a refreshment bar make this media room in a 2-story, 4-bedroom Shingle-style home plan the perfect home theater (House 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 a few basic accessories, including a big, 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.
This game room in a 2-story, 4-bedroom Country style home plan with Craftsman touches comes with a large-screen television, sofa, bar area, and foosball table (House 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 where they can 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 a television for video games and sporting events.
And, voila! Your kids will have a dedicated space where they can pursue their particular interests – and have fun with their friends.
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.” (Home 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 a great use of flexible space as well as a wonderful 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.
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 (photo courtesy Sisters in Sync Design).
7. Comfy Sleep Nook
Not exactly a bedroom, a sleep 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.
Want some peace and quiet away from the family? Use your flex space to fashion a sleep nook or a "nesting place" where you can escape to read a book or listen to music (photo courtesy Chambers + Chambers Architects).
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 sleep 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.
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 courtesy Design Therapy).
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).