5 Steps to Creating a Beautiful, Functional Multi-Purpose Room

Many of our homes have them, but few of us put the planning, thought, or work into pulling them off well. Yes, I'm talking about multi purpose rooms. For some of us, maybe it's an office/workout room. Maybe it's a nursery/guest room. Maybe it's a crafting/laundry room. Maybe you have a McMansion and it's a bowling/banquet room. No matter the category or size, design matters. This post is a continuation of a series I began awhile back in which I share my wealth of acquired home design knowledge with the blogosphere. You're welcome. In this installment, I will discuss the factors that make up a successful and beautiful multi-purpose space, based on what I've done in our office/playroom. We have two small children and this is the first house where we've had two separate living spaces (insert "Hallelujah Chorus" here). We decided that since we entertain families quite often, it would be really nice to create a space downstairs for toys that was very kid-friendly so that the kids can play and the adults can hang out upstairs in a space that's a tad bit, um, calmer. My husband also works from home (although with two small kids, translate that to: he usually works out of coffee shops), and we needed a place to house the printer, his books, and various other work-related paraphernalia. Thus, we have a basement that doubles as both office and playroom. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here is our stunning space:

playroomSo let's jump right in, shall we?

1.) Define the space with a sense of separation. I've done this here by positioning the bookshelves to face the office area and the toy bins to face the play area. I mean, with that simple configuration you almost feel like it's two separate rooms! I'm sure my husband could work for hours in peace and solitude while our daughters play angelically on the other side of this "wall". Ahem, if he were ever to attempt it. I'm not sure why he seems to prefer Starbucks.

2.) Unify the space with one cohesive styleIn this room, you'll see that the lovely goldish tan color that I meticulously painted our landlord chose sets one continuous backdrop. Then I added in layers of pink accents (which obviously coordinate beautifully) with all the various princess and otherwise girly toys. I chose to keep the office monotone, however, which slightly breaks the rule but also works because it further defines the space. I'm calling the style "conglomerative". Try not to be intimidated that I not only have a beautiful space but have pioneered a whole new category in design. With baby steps and lots of experimentation, I'm sure you also can achieve great heights in home decor.

3.) Choose furniture that is stylish, sleek, and multitasking. Though these items can be pricey, they are definitely worth the investment considering they will set the tone of the room and maximize your space. For instance, although expensive, a murphy bed could be a really wise investment if you're planning a guest room/office space, and you can even save money by constructing one yourself if you're an ambitious DIY-er. I can't address all the lovely pieces I have pictured here, but I will briefly discuss a few.

The brown bamboo and rattan chair along the left wall is a piece I actually purchased as a freshman in college, so in a few years it will be vintage! I'm sure its value will go through the roof. In this space it plays a couple of important roles. When my husband finally realizes what a serene and work-friendly environment his office is, he can have meetings here and this chair will provide seating for that. With the kids, it's positioned just right of the basketball hoop, and a few days ago I found my 2 year old using it as a platform for dunking. That's a perfect example of a beautiful, multi-tasking piece of furniture.

The princess tent is a sophisticated multi-use piece that you can find at fine retailers like Target (pronounced Tar-zhay as in the French spelling). It is currently turned on its side so that it not only provides more separation between office and playroom, but it also provides a cozy spot for kiddos to picnic or read. It can also be a great place for momma to hide out from snuggle and read to the kids.

4.) Make sure to equip your space with ample shelving and storage that is not only functional, but stylish. The beautiful plastic dollhouse actually folds up to a smaller size, while still housing dolls and accessories inside! As you can see, the baby bouncy seat makes a convenient little storage basin for dolls and toys, and who could deny that it perfectly compliments the decor of the room?

5.) Clear the room of any unnecessary clutter to ensure a calm, put-together look. Though the war on clutter is waged in every room of the home, multi-purpose rooms can tend to put up the worst fight. They inherently have more traffic and more "stuff" to house, so it's imperative that everything have a specific home and that it be kept tidy. I think my room speaks for itself in that area. It's pretty much the epitome of the proverbial words "a place for everything, and everything in its place."

I hope my office/playroom can serve as inspiration, and that these simple tips can help you in your endeavors to design a multi-purpose room that represents your style and meets the needs of your family. If you have any additional design tips for rooms with multiple uses, please share them in the comments!