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5 Ways to Make a Small Room Multifunctional

If you find yourself wondering whether to make that spare bedroom a guest room or an office, consider a third option: Make it both. Two rooms combined in one multifunctional space means you get the best of both worlds. But how do you divide a room without erecting a wall? We consulted Kyle Schuneman, interior designer and author of “The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces,” for tips on setting up a space with dual purposes.

1. Combine rooms that make sense.
When considering which room types are a solid match, opt for a classic combination like a guest room/office, guest room/living room or bedroom/gym. Or match up your dining room with an office. “It’s become a huge trend since more people are working from home,” Schuneman explains. “The dining room table can double as your desk/conference table; a shelf in your buffet can be used as file storage to keep the room tidy.” Or get a rolling storage cart to keep office essentials handy during the workday but out of sight for your Saturday night dinner parties.

2. Keep the room’s main job function in mind — but don’t be one-sided.
Let’s say you’re designing a hybrid office/craft room. You work from home on weekdays and work on your scrapbook on the weekends. Resist the urge to divide the room in a 50-50 split. It makes more sense to set up the space for its primary function — in this case, the place you do your 9-to-5. So make a desk the room’s focal point, but give a shout-out to its crafty alter ego with a pegboard of scrapbooking supplies (ribbons, tools, thread spools) hanging on the wall.

3. Buy multifunctional furniture.
Furniture with built-in storage is key to a room leading a double life. For example, pick out side tables with drawers to hold work supplies for a space that’s an office by day and a living room by night. Or if you’re combining a living room and guest room, get a storage ottoman with a flip-up compartment that can store extra sheets and blankets. “Choose your pieces wisely,” Schuneman says.

4. Subscribe to the “less is more” theory.
The more furniture and accessories you add, the smaller the space will seem, so don’t go overboard when setting up. Decide on what the room really needs to serve its two purposes to keep the environment free of clutter.

5. Coordinate colors.
You’ve heard it before, and it’s still true: Nothing ties a room together like color. So pick a two- or three-shade combination while setting up the room. Even though it’s multifunctional, the room will look balanced and coordinated.


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