When searching for a new house, one of the first questions you get asked is how many bedrooms do you need? This question probably makes perfect sense for young couples planning a family. For others, the question is often less about sleeping and more about spare bedroom ideas we dream about. That is, after our kids move away from home. So why do most house searches still focus on bedrooms?
We're looking at spare bedroom ideas and how we use our homes today. It might be time to rethink how you're using your bedrooms when you're looking for other activity space. Spare bedrooms can be used for working at home, home schooling and/or sharing your favorite hobbies with the kids.
This isn't a scientific sample. The idea for this article began with events in my personal life, so here's where I started:
- Home offices – We (baby boomers) just bought a new house in Arizona. We focused on the space and views for two home offices, plus a backyard that would allow my husband to build his dream observatory.
- Too few bedrooms – We visit my older son in Florida quite often because of our granddaughter. Their house is small (1,340 sq ft) with 3 bedrooms. They converted one of the bedrooms into a home office for a start-up business. So we try to stay with nearby friends rather than sleep on blow-up mattresses in the home office (for real).
- Too many bedrooms – My college friend where we're staying is wondering if she should downsize. With four bedrooms near Disney, she gets lots of requests from friends to stay there which has become a burden over the year. She simply doesn't like all the extra cleaning!
So maybe it's time to rethink our homes. With so much space dedicated to bedrooms, it makes sense to review why we need (or want) them. We've redefined our kitchens and the surrounding, shared living space with open concept floor plans. Now it's time to think outside the box again, and redefine how we use all the bedrooms in our homes.
Bedrooms for Every Child?
Did you have your own bedroom as a child? That probably depends on your age because the average house in 1950 was 983 sq ft. That says most families had several children in shared bedrooms. In my family there were 2 bedrooms for 3 girls. We had to earn the privilege of getting the small, single bedroom and we switched once a year.
What's fascinating is that other than decorating my private bedroom how I wanted, all my memories are from the shared bedroom. We built forts, re-arranged furniture to create individual spaces and so much more. Most important, we had to learn to share our space, our things and live with each other.
In today's world with social media that isolates children from so much face-to-face communication, there are many benefits for children sharing bedrooms. When we push aside tradition and think outside the box, it's possible to create innovative solutions that support how we live. How can you use bedrooms differently?
- 2 kids and 2 bedrooms? Make one bedroom for sleeping and the other bedroom for homework and quiet activities.
- 2 kids and 3 bedrooms? Keep one bedroom for sleeping, a second bedroom for quiet activities and use the third bedroom for family activities where parents can share hobbies with their children. How about a room for sewing, building model airplanes or trains? And I think it's smarter to keep the woodworking (and sawdust) in the garage.
Spare Bedroom Ideas for Guests?
Do we need to dedicate bedrooms for the occasional guest? Probably my biggest joy with guest bedrooms is decorating them and not having to clean them very often … because they rarely get used! Maybe that's why we haven't had many guest bedrooms through the years, so what have we done with our extra bedrooms?
- Guest bedroom – Our first house had two bedrooms and my brother-in-law stayed with us for several months. Other than this, I think the space collected stuff as my husband and I were juggling school and work, so we weren't home very much.
- Au pair bedrooms – As our family grew, we had au pairs to take care of the boys while we were at work. We needed a bedroom for them and remodeled the family room to create the first au pair bedroom. In small quarters like New York City, it's common for au pairs to share a bedroom with the child they're watching.
- Quilt room – When living in Tokyo we learned to live with a lot less space. We only had 1,400 sq ft with 2 active boys, an au pair and no yard. The new playroom was the hallway and it was great for playing ball – no windows to break and you never had to run far to retrieve the ball. I guess they got exercise climbing up and down their bunk beds, as they helped make the small bedrooms bigger.
Spare Bedroom Ideas for Home Offices, Hobbies ???
So think about how you spend your time at home, besides sleeping, personal grooming and eating. Do you have enough space to enjoy the things you like doing in your spare time … as that might be the best way to use those spare bedrooms. And if you're working at home, you'll work more efficiently.
If you don't have enough spare bedrooms for everything you want, maybe it's time to re-purpose the dining room. One of the houses I looked at in Arizona had 3 bedrooms but only the master bedroom had a great view. That master would have been my office, so I could enjoy the views all day.
It always amazes me that the best bedroom views are in the room where you spend most of time sleeping. If you're building a house or remodeling, consider where you spend your waking hours as those are the rooms that should get the best view in the house.