Students all across America are tossing their graduation caps and moving away from home. If one of your children is starting their next chapter, you might be one of the lucky homeowners with an extra room at home.
Whether you’ve been itching to transform a bedroom into your personal paradise or start a long-awaited project, here are some things to take into consideration when you’re coming up with bonus room ideas that can help you get the most out of your new space.
What is a bonus room?
First things first: What is a bonus room? A bonus room, also called a flex room, is a room in your home that would be typically viewed as a bedroom but does not come with a closet or meet local code requirements. For our purposes, we’ll also include large nooks that have enough room for furniture.
Bonus room questions to consider
Before you look at paint swatches or measure the doorway for new furniture, answer these key questions to develop a space that is beautiful, accessible, and functional.
Question 1: Is it functional?
You may have always had a plan for this space, but it’s helpful to examine the logistics first. Ask yourself the following questions to determine which transformation options could work.
- Can I easily access this area whenever I want to use it?
- Is it comfortable enough to use all season/year long?
- Will noise coming into or out of this room be a concern for me or others?
- Is there enough space for me to store and use my equipment/materials?
- What will it take to bring the space up to code and have a proper emergency exit?
- Can I make reasonable modifications to realistically and comfortably meet these needs?
Also, consider turning this room into a multipurpose space. If you’d like more space for your craft items, but you also need space for someone to practice music or work out, you can split the room’s design into halves or zones (e.g., a home office/craft desk against one wall, a relaxation space by the window, and a workout area in the other half of the room).
Question 2: How long will it take to renovate?
Depending on the size of the project, renovating a room can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Here’s how you can cut your project time and avoid learning any hard lessons.
Ask for help
Do some initial research at home to get a rough idea for how you’ll bring your vision to life. Afterward, visit the help desk at your local hardware store to learn what materials will work best and get your DIY FAQs answered. Do not buy anything at this stage, even though there may be an inclination to purchase pieces you could potentially need.
Source experience from loved ones who have recently renovated, and see if they have any equipment, paint, etc. they’d be willing to loan or give you. If they’re able, ask if they could lend you their expertise and help you shop for materials or put the room together.
Depending on the type and scale of your renovations, you may need an architect or contractor. Focus your resources on keeping updates safe to avoid a DIY disaster.
Set realistic goals
Now that you have all this new information, make any necessary adjustments to your timeframe and budget. Create a list for what is essential, what is optional, and what you’d like to include if you end up saving money elsewhere. Once your list is finished, revisit your hardware store or home goods store to pick up what you need.
Pro Tip: Make sure you cross-check this list with your “to-do” list and any other home updates on the horizon, like a bathroom redo, to limit the amount of noise, dust, and large purchases being made within a specific amount of time.
Know your order
Determine which larger projects, such as changing flooring and painting walls, should be tackled first, since they affect when you can begin other things. Give yourself smaller tasks, such as organizing your kitchen appliances, for any downtime that may occur. Keep a schedule and update it regularly to stay on track when you’re tempted to jump to the next step before the room is ready.
Question 3: Will this increase my home’s resale value?
While you’re ultimately renovating the space for you and your household, with the resources you’ll be spending on these updates are a great opportunity to increase the value of your home. Consider these elements when you’re updating your flex room.
What are you adding to the space?
Modernizing a space isn’t just about “out with the old”, but also “in with the new”. Whether thrifted, vintage, discounted, or fresh off the line, think of how you’re making the space more functional by adding items like the following:
- More storage for small supplies or long-term projects
- More light for areas with limited access to natural light
- More convenience for a space that needs the right setup to be functional
- More durable finishes and materials for an environment that’s built to last
Which materials are you using?
Choosing certain materials can make the space more widely palatable. Depending on what the room will become, you can incorporate materials like the ones below.
- Hardwood for easier cleaning (Check under that old carpet!)
- Stable furniture that doesn’t squeak or creak so it can be used at any time of day
- Modern finishes for a more inviting and sophisticated space
Can the design choices be easily changed?
If you’re going for a look that’s more niche, aim for transformation techniques that are a little less permanent. For example, if you’re excited to do something bold with the walls, consider painting a mural or pattern instead of using wallpaper, which can be much more difficult to remove or cover.
Are there any hidden treasures?
From additional rooms to secret stairs, homeowners have found all sorts of things when updating their homes. Review your home’s master plan and check with your municipality’s records to see if there’s a valuable-but-hidden part of your home. If neither of these yield any new information, you may be intrigued to safely explore what’s behind a non-load-bearing wall.
Pro Tip: Ultimately, you have to make the best decision for your household. If something will bring you maximum joy or fulfill a long-held dream, it may be worth going for it, even if the renovation won’t yield as much bang for your buck.
Unique Bonus Room Ideas
If you have an uncommonly-shaped space and you’re not sure what to do with it, try the following unique bonus room ideas to bring that special space to life!
- Construct an indoor greenhouse for easily accessible plant care year round
- Design a game room for easy entertaining
- Build a laundry room on the second floor to make chores more convenient
- Create an art studio to have a designated location for exploration and expression
Small bonus room ideas
If you’re working with a space that’s very cozy, you can still add purpose and style with these small bonus room ideas.
- Create a meditation zone to easily reset whenever the need arises
- Designate a nap corner to have a close retreat for rest
- Construct a reading cove to have a cozy place to get lost in a world of wonder
- Build a traveler’s hub and keep your luggage, passports, souvenirs, and a map of past trips all in one place