House & Home

Creative uses for unused spaces

Want an extra bedroom? A game room? Your own personal library? You can have them all!

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Laurie Anne Ajan / New Homes & Ideas

One of the advantages to buying a brand new home is the ability to customize it. More and more, builders are offering flex spaces that are adaptable to homebuyers’ wants or needs. Want an extra bedroom? A game room? Your own personal library? You can have them all! And if these don’t suit your tastes, there are plenty of other options as well. The biggest benefit of these flex rooms is that the space is built to best fit the buyer’s needs. It’s not just about rearranging furniture, either; instead it often involves structural changes made during the building process to make the space more useful for those who will own the home. Already built your home and opted out of these flex spaces? No problem! You can also make use of unused space you already have available in your home. It’s truly up to you—and the options are endless.

For kid-friendly zones

If you have little ones, you know that even with a devoted space for toys, you’ll still manage to trip over some Legos or blocks somewhere else in your home. But having a playroom for your kids does help keep toys regulated to that general area at least! Many builders are offering “loft” spaces, and many homeowners are turning these areas into playrooms. You can make it your own, too. Add baskets and cubbies to organize toys. Bring in a few fun and cozy cushions or beanbag chairs for comfort. Keep the room fun and functional. And if you’re extra creative, you could even paint a mural on the wall with characters from your child’s favorite TV show. Or you could just put a bounce house in there and call it a day! This space can also grow with your children and evolve as they do.

Many builders are offering “loft” spaces, and many homeowners are turning these areas into playrooms.
Another popular request is specialized “drop zones” or “family stations” where there are hooks for backpacks, jackets, dog leashes; shelves for random items; cubbies for shoes; and a bench to sit on while you tie those shoes. Often in new homes, there’s a dedicated area for this, and it’s often an add-on to create the specific drop zone. Some opt, instead, to create it themselves once they’ve moved in. For instance, Pulte Group offers the Everyday Entry, which is an expanded pathway through the most-used entrance in the home. Marketing Manager for Pulte, Tim Lantz, explains that this space “features a Drop Zone for things like backpacks, shoes, and other items that you don’t want cluttering up your living space.”

For book lovers

Every book lover has imagined it: being surrounded by your favorite novels, from floor to ceiling. And now you can make it a reality! Turn your extra space into a library, a study, or a reading nook – or all of the above. Add some comfy chairs, and you’re all set to curl up and read on a rainy day. You could even create a “closet” library in an unused closet. Swap out the regular door for a glass one to put your books on display!

For animal lovers

Create a dedicated space for your four-legged friend. Have unused space under the stairs? Turn it into a “suite” for your pet! Decorate it like you would any bedroom, add your pet’s favorite bed, toys, and, of course, food and water bowls. Fido will be thrilled! I mean, dogs (and cats) are people, too – right?!

Another option is a dedicated pet wash area next to your washer and dryer or in your mudroom. No one likes to tackle this dreaded chore (least of all your pet), but you can turn it into an easier task with a handheld sprayer or an elevated sink for smaller animals. Bonus: pet washers can double as unique spaces to clean golf clubs, gardening tools, or muddy shoes as well.

For gamers and movie fanatics

Picture it. A (very) large flat-screen TV. Surround sound. Comfy couches. And you…enjoying your favorite movie or video game. Dedicate a room entirely to entertainment! Family movie night has never been so easy. (Don’t forget the popcorn!) Be sure to add storage space for DVDs, video games and controllers, and other electronics you don’t want laying around. This space could also be good for computer/homework stations for the kids.

For crafters

Whether you scrapbook, quilt, knit, crochet, paint…or do something equally “crafty,” you need your own room to make your masterpieces, don’t you? You at least need somewhere to put all your craft supplies, which somehow manage to pile up. To solve this dilemma, dedicate a space to your crafts. Add a table and chair to your space to work on and of course lots of cabinets or cubbies to store all of your supplies. You can even use the room to display your completed artwork!

For fitness fans

Want to work out, but don’t want to leave home? Then create your own workout room in that extra space! You can use a loft area or an extra room, or even the garage. Whether you prefer the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, or weights, you can equip your home gym with whatever you’d like and you’ll be working out in the comfort of your own home in no time!

For getting down to business

Besides turning a flex room into an office, many builders are offering more “compact” office options in their homes. For instance, Meritage Homes offers “pocket offices” as an upgrade in their homes. Division president, Lawrence Lane, explains: “These pocket offices are typically incorporated into the first floor off of the kitchen and/or family room. This space would be ideal for anything from kids doing homework, a mother taking care of paying bills, or working from home.”
Pulte Group offers a similar option called the Pulte Planning Center®, which, as Marketing Manager Tim Lantz explains, “is a dedicated space for managing busy home life. It is typically located off of the kitchen near the main living area of the home and is a place to do homework, check e-mail, and charge electronics.”
Waterstone Model, Pulte Planning Center; Photo courtesy of Pulte Group

Another option is something you could do on your own. Have an extra closet you’re not using? Turn it into an office! No, really. You may not have a whole room to dedicate to an office, but you probably have a closet! And what’s the best thing about having your “office” inside of a closet? If you don’t want to see all that work you have to do, you can just close the door!

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