Flex rooms are having their moment in home organization as more and more people are embracing working (and exercising, and socializing) from home.
If you’re curious about what is a flex room, they’re also known as a multipurpose room, a space in your home that pulls double-duty. Think office/dining, laundry room/craft space, or a guest bedroom/home gym.
Creating a flex room in your home is one way to get the maximum use out of your space without having to increase your square footage.
Read on to make sure your house is working as hard as you are.
What Do People Use a Flex Room For?
With more and more people embracing working (and exercising, and socializing) from home, there’s never been a more important time to make sure your house is working as hard as you are.
Professional organizer Regina Lark, founder of A Clear Path, says that she commonly has clients ask her about creating a multipurpose space, or flex room, when they’ve had a kid head off to college, noting that office/yoga spaces are a common request.
“Whenever there is a transition in someone’s life, like downsizing, it’s great to have a multi-use space,” she says. “When you’re living in fewer rooms, it’s important to know how to make each square foot of space work for you.”
When deciding how to configure your ideal flex room, you want to find the sweet spot between what you want and what you need.
Prioritize daily-use needs, like an office (especially if you work remotely full-time or have a side hustle), playroom or workout space.
If you’re retired, your kids have left the nest, or you have those other uses covered, then it may be time to expand your options to include a gaming room, music room or a crafting area.
Yvette Bowlin, founder of The Declutterist, notes that she has seen an uptick in flex rooms since 2005, as people began purchasing smaller homes due to the housing market.
When it comes to “creating more with less,” Bowlin recommends “tapping into the current moment of your life—if you have kids, think about a play area or childproof spaces. It’s important to have an internal dialogue.”
Instead of chasing an Instagram or Pinterest dream, there is so much more joy in addressing the now, and not the future, she said.
“Then, you can set your purposes for your room, which will influence everything from furniture to paint colors. Once your mind is in the right place, you can draw a floor plan to coordinate the multiple uses of your space.”
What Is Considered a Flex Space?
Be strategic about the uses you combine to create your ideal flex space. After all, if you can’t have your options co-exist, you won’t end up using the room.
For example, a kid’s playroom probably won’t work as a part-time office, but your laundry could definitely share space with art projects.
Rooms that have a clear purpose (kitchens, bathrooms) or are high traffic areas can be problematic, so choose a neutral space (like an extra bedroom) to create the most efficient flex space.
Home gyms are at the top of many people’s lists for flex spaces. Read about how to organize a garage home gym with our guide.
What Should I Put in My Flex Space?
When it comes to creating a flex space that really works for you, “don’t overcrowd it!” cautions Lark.
If you’d like an office space, Lark says to think about what you need to have in that office.
"Do you really need that file cabinet? You want to think critically about what it means to have an office, or workout space or reading area," she said. "Don’t overfill it, so you can actually use that space."
To convert a kid’s room into a guest room, think about creating specific areas where their old belongings can go, clearing out closets to make room for guests, and switching the decor up to something modern and neutral so that everyone can feel comfortable.
Because you can still expect your kid to return home for holidays and breaks, a good compromise is organization.
For example, keep small personal items in clear plastic bins on site, and larger items like mattresses and bed frames stored in the garage or a storage until you can pass it on to them when they move into their next space.
Don’t forget to keep other keepsakes like cards or yearbooks in accessible bins nearby for when you’re feeling nostalgic.
Read more about a “cloffice,” one of our favorite multi-use spaces, on our blog.
How Do You Arrange a Flex Room?
Depending on what you're using your space for, you might need to make some improvements to reach peak functionality.
Consider upgrades like soundproofing, French doors, a fresh coat of paint, or something as simple as installing extra outlets or routers.
Keep in mind that even quick adjustments can really pay off in the long run—according to Consumer Reports , having a flex room can boost the value of your home by 4-6% if you decide to sell your house down the line.
If you’re planning on selling at some point, don’t forget to read our top realtor tips!