Working From Home? Here’s How to Optimize Your Space for Multiple Uses.
According to Arch2o multifunctional, multiuse and multipurpose spaces are defined as: a proper integration of several functions.
In essence, taking a space and using it for more than one purpose. While everyone has a room in their house or office which has a dedicated name to make the use apparent, creating a multiuse room is not necessarily about changing the function of that space, but designing it in a way that opens it up seamlessly to another possibility of use.
So, if conventionally a room has a particular use, why would it be important or even necessary to create a multifunctional space?
Well, it's no surprise that in the past decade, at least, and even more accelerated during and since the pandemic, work/life culture has changed. More people are working for companies from their homes, more people are starting companies from their homes and more people leave the office at five and continue working from home. And while we don't want to stress the benefits a proper work life balance here, this shift in how spaces are utilized means that there are opportunities to optimize spaces so that you get the maximum benefit.
How Do You Create a Multifunctional Space?
There are a few ways to create multifunctional spaces at home:
Let's take a deeper dive into how to do each of these things successfully.
Defining the Needs of the Space
Before deciding what and how to make your space multifunctional, it's important to know, what exactly are the functions it needs to perform. If there are too many to count, the simplest thing would be to decide what are the two to three most common uses for the space. Having this framework is important before anything else.
With the following questions, we can dive deeper with the main objective being to outline our needs:
You may already have an idea about the main things you want to do in the space, but these questions will ensure you cover everything.
You should now have a list of needs: activities done in the space, who it needs to satisfy, what would make it more comfortable or ideal and at what times does it need to perform a specific function.
With this list, you can view the next two ways to optimize space and the methods for achieving them, through the well-defined lens of your personal needs.
Dividing the Space
Dividing a space is typically the most common way to create a multipurpose room. You can divide a room using colors to separate areas, objects like office desks or couches to show which area is designated for what tasks, and even time can be used as a separator. From 8am-12pm this area will be used for work, while 5-7 it's a children's play room. For the latter it's more about mental boundaries than physical changes.
Separating areas by color is not a new way to dedicate a particular area of a room to a particular use. This can be seen most commonly with a joined dining room and kitchen. Painting the dining room walls and ceiling red and drawing the line at a stopping point for the kitchen is probably the boldest way. In the same way a colorful accent wall with wallpaper, brick or wood is another design feature that separates spaces. Flooring can also be used like this. By having wood floors in the dining room and tiles in the kitchen, there's a clear designation.
If you want to use this method decide:
While these design choices may involve a bit more manual labor, the next method for dividing a space will simplify things.
Defining particular areas by the furniture and decor in that area is another common method of dividing spaces. You can see this executed in a bedroom that has a bed on one wall, a desk in front of a windowed-corner and a dressing/vanity space. You could argue that the space itself between these areas is the real divider, but the objects too define the multiuse intention of the room. Rugs and lighting can also give a similar effect to colors and materials, but are more easily acquired and setup.
The objects and decor method is particularly useful if you have a larger room or if things function better when they have a dedicated area and singular use furniture piece. If you want to utilize this method decide:
Objects can be a great way to partition areas, but it's important to utilize space-saving furniture to ensure it's a truly optimizing solution.
I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of psychology, but mentally and verbally dividing spaces by time is another possibility. This would mostly involve setting up mental boundaries with yourself and verbal boundaries with others. Create time slots for a space that is totally dependent on what task needs to happen in this one space and at which times. The downside with this is if activities are regularly simultaneous.
When you work from home and have to share your dining room with food and office supplies, decide which times will be for work exclusively, which times for eating, and stick to keeping those activities separate. In this way you can create a small amount of balance for yourself. Also, changing around the objects at those certain times will help to solidify this invisible boundary.
While breaking up spaces using design choices and time can be practical, depending on the size of your space it may be unreasonable to do. The next method will give you a way that integrates multiple functions into a space rather than divides them.
Dual Use Furniture
If your space is on the smaller end, say a studio apartment, its possible that marking territory with different colors or using your couch only from 8pm-10pm for eating is simply not practical. You have a limited amount of area, you have to spend a lot of time in it, and you need it to do multiple things, comfortably. Having furniture that serves more than one task, as well as objects that can adapt your area to a certain function is the prime solution.
The simplest example of dual use furniture is a table in a studio apartment serving as a work desk, dining table and coffee table. It's a good idea, but doesn't appear to be super comfortable. That's why adaptable furniture and objects are important.
Maybe you incorporate a small, sit to stand table. It's low for coffee table functionality, but can be adjusted higher for work and dining. Or, add a laptop riser to a table to make sure you're working at a proper height without posture strain. You can keep it tucked away when not in use, but set it up on your low coffee table when you need to work.
In the same way a normal armchair or couch by adding a lumbar support pillow and ottoman can make a regular seat a bit more ergonomic for long hours of sitting. The ottoman itself can operate as a storage for keeping living room items like remotes and blankets.
Collapsible furniture is another great option, as you can fold and unfold the item as needed and easily keep it stored or hidden. Folding or nesting chairs, are readily available and particularly useful when guests are invited to dine.
Working from home has its benefits and challenges, but deciding to optimize your space according to your needs will help to minimize roadblocks to your productivity. Use colors, materials and objects to divide areas. Maximize and adapt furniture for multiple uses and comfortability. Overall, remember to start by defining a space, through the lens of your own needs, to decide which methods would work best for you.
Looking for the best desk, optimized for small space and also height adjustable? Check out this blog post!
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Multiuse space, multifunctional room, working from home, multipurpose room