Washing clothes in the bedroom. Sending email from the laundry room.
Busy Americans are demanding more from each room in the house, and spaces designed for multiple functions are popping up all over floor plans, design blogs and magazine spreads.
“People multitask all the time. There is a definite correlation and carry-over in the home,” said Wendy Danziger, owner of Danziger Design in Bethesda, Md. She has helped clients create rooms for eating and watching television; housing guests and working from home; sleeping and doing laundry.
Some homebuilders have added space for seating, desks and charging stations in the laundry room.
“It’s happening all over,” Danziger said. “There’s a lot of strategy that goes on — a lot of compromise.”
Furniture manufacturers, too, are helping to make every square inch count, said Pat Bowling, spokeswoman for the American Home Furnishings Alliance in High Point, N.C. Modern pieces include end tables that double as file cabinets, coffee tables with adjustable heights to accommodate working at a computer or eating, and chests with docking stations for electronics.
The portability of laptops, tablets and other devices means you don’t need a dedicated home office to work at home. People can — and do — use electronics in the family room, bedroom and kitchen.
“Today’s furniture is multi-tasking furniture that can help you stay organized, stay connected and keep clutter at bay,” said Kim Shaver of Hooker Furniture in Martinsville, Va. “In versatile styles and silhouettes, these pieces fit any room — from the kitchen to the bedroom and from the family room to the entry hall or foyer — and provide multiple functions in each room.”
Danziger says a console table with hinged leaves is a good option for a TV room that sometimes needs to become a dining room: When guests come for dinner, just slide the table away from the wall under the television and extend the leaves to create a table that seats up to six people.
Nesting tables — stacking tables of different sizes — also help increase the functionality of a space, she said. She often puts them on wheels so they can easily be rolled to another area of the room for another use.
She has worked with retirees downsizing to a smaller home and with young professionals squeezed into urban apartments.
“Once home offices were the rage,” she said. Now, “it is not unusual to see living spaces where people eat, sleep, work and play games just for the sake of living in a city where one can walk to everything, including their office.”
Frank Pitman of Frank Pitman Designs in Orange County, Calif., also has seen the trend. “There’s a lot of dual-purpose space happening,” he said.
He has had a growing number of clients putting laundry facilities in their bedroom closets. “They are already storing the clothing there. Why not wash the clothing right there?” he said.
Some of his clients like having a room’s secondary use come as a surprise: Television or computer screens that seem to “appear from nowhere” are good examples, he said.
Murphy beds, which are stored vertically in a cabinet along a wall, or murphy desks, which slide out bookshelves, are another way to keep a space’s other function hidden.
Often the need to get more use out of a space arises when an elderly parent joins the household, a grown child returns home or a young family hires a live-in nanny, said Amy Albert, editor of Custom Home Magazine in Washington, D.C.
“Multiple generations need multi-functioning space,” she said.
Ryland Home’s Thompson model at Carolina Park in Mount Pleasant provides lots of upstairs space for a loft but also includes a dining area in the corner (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A den off the front entrance in this Sabal Homes model in Goose Creek-based Carnes Crossroads is adaptable as a study (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
This David Weekley model home at Carnes Crossroads sports an open look that can pass as a TV room or a rec room (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
The Coosaw floor plan from Ryland at Carolina Park showcases a flex room with a desk, blackboard and screened in porch (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Eastwood Homes introduced a home plan in Carnes Crossroads touting a top floor recreation room that can double as a home theater (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
This sitting room from Ryland boasts a large bookshelf that can hold photos, plates and baskets (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
This space from Sabal Homes at Carnes Crossroads can be a mud room or storage organizer (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Lennar opens up the living room so the adjoining kitchen can fold into it. The design is in the at Fairmont South in Moncks Corner (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Bookshelves highlight this small versatile room from David Weekley in its model at Carnes Crossroads (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
The den-study from this Sabal Homes model offers versatility for buyers at Carnes Crossroads (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Sabal Homes’ mud room in its Carnes Crossroads model sports cubbyholes to handle a slew of outdoor gear and clothes (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×