Flex Rooms: What Are They, And How Can They Level Up The Functionality In Your Home?

Flex rooms are the latest in trending real estate options that have quickly become a favorite among buyers. In fact, flex rooms have seemingly made themselves a permanent fixture on the real estate scene. They are also known as bonus rooms and experiential zones. Like the name suggests, "flex" is short for flexible, and designates a specific area that can be used for multiple purposes. The idea is an innovative one, gaining popularity and momentum due to its arrival at a time when people are demanding more from their homes.

After spending so much time in our homes during the pandemic, part of the appeal of flex rooms is their versatility. It's a space that can accommodate more than one purpose, depending on the needs or whims of the owners. It creates an element of excitement because of the different possibilities it represents. Having an efficient flex space increases the functionality of your home as well. Let's take a look at some ideas for flex rooms, and how they can level up the functionality in your home.

Basic design tips

Though a great flex room can serve very specific functions, you can maximize its efficiency by designing it neutrally. For example, say you want to use your flex room as a part-time music studio and a part-time meditation room. The right design could make this duo coexist quite well. Or how about a home office and a guest room? Perfectly doable, and probably much easier than you think!

Whether you have a specific idea for its purpose or want to experiment with a dual-need plan, understand that your needs and priorities will change over time. The value of the flex room is in its diversity and ability to adapt. Try to keep the walls and flooring neutral, making it easy to switch from a music room to a kid's playroom to a meditation room from year to year. When it comes to furniture, choose lightweight, foldable, or easy-to-move pieces, making it easy to switch the room's purpose. After all, you might not feel like going from a guest bedroom to a craft room if you have a heavy antique armoire you need to move! Now, let's go over some great ideas for inspiration on some flex room purposes you might enjoy.

Create an accessible home fitness room

A popular choice for a flex room today is a home gym. If you're trying to fit in trips to the local fitness center for regular workouts but find yourself struggling to make a schedule you can keep, bring the workout to you! Many people mistakenly think they need to have a huge amount of space to put in large pieces of equipment for a good home gym. The fact is, a lot can be accomplished with minimal room.

In order to maximize the functionality of your flex room, choose foldable gym equipment that can be easily stored away. For example, you can get foldable bikes and treadmills rather than their chunkier counterparts. Get some removable rubber floor tiles or mats to protect your flooring, ensuring it will stay intact for the room's next purpose. You might want to install added storage or shelves, but these can be standalone pieces rather than built-ins. You can also add a freestanding full-length mirror to help you maintain good form while exercising, negating the need to install mirrors on the walls. 

Enhance remote work with a home office space

A home office improves your home's functionality even further by allowing you to work from home. Whether you work a hybrid schedule of partly at home and partly in-office or entirely remotely, having a designated space will improve your efficiency and productivity. Keeping in mind the flexibility theme for your office space, choose a table that can expand or collapse to work from. When not in use, you can remove your laptop and collapse the table to the size that makes sense for a lamp. Likewise, you can also look into a wall-mounted floating desk, which can fold back into the wall when not in use. 

Decide what equipment you really need and how much space it will take, and plan accordingly. If you need a filing cabinet, consider getting one with wheels so it's easy to move when it's time to flip the room. You can also get cubbies and other storage systems that hide your printer, office supplies, and reading materials. This will be especially useful if it's a hybrid room and you don't want it to feel like a permanent office. Give yourself the atmosphere you need for your best motivation.

Keep kids' rooms clean by making a designated playroom

Boost the functionality of your home by designating a playroom in your flex space. If your never-ending chore is trying to get your kids to keep their rooms clean and organized, make it easier for everyone by giving them their own separate place to play! Keep the mess contained in a space specifically designed to withstand enthusiastic players. There are some terrific ideas out there to make it especially inviting to kids, while at the same time keeping the space functional.

For example, benches that have storage inside can be used for storing Legos, racetracks, board games, dress-up clothes, and more. You can also use shelves for storage that will benefit any space. Get some plastic bins with snap-on lids to help organize toys and be stacked and stored in a closet. Get a large foldable table and chairs that you can set up for doing arts and crafts projects or putting together a puzzle on, but can be put away when not in use. Consider rubber mats or removable rubber flooring that could also be used for home gym equipment later down the line.

Create a space for practicing a musical instrument or music appreciation

If you're like most parents, you want to encourage your kids to learn how to play an instrument. Or perhaps you play an instrument yourself? Maybe you simply want to instill an appreciation for certain kinds of music, or you might just love listening to it yourself. Whatever the motivation, wouldn't it be nice to have a space to do it without bothering the rest of the people in the house? Turn your flex room into a music/practice room, and do just that!

For this kind of space, you should really consider soundproofing the room. While that might sound rather permanent — and can come in handy if you choose to make the space into a movie room or home gym next — there are also ways to do it temporarily. You can hang soundproof curtains at the windows, helping to absorb some of the echoing and distortion. You can also lay down a couple of thick rugs, which will not only absorb noise but add a cozy touch to the room. Lastly, try adding temporary acoustic foam on the walls. You can do so by using a wall-safe adhesive spray, Command strips, or sticking it to plywood and leaning the sheet against the wall.

Create a place of tranquility for daily meditation to reduce stress

According to NAMI, over 40 million adults in America have an anxiety disorder. According to DisturbMeNot, meditation relieves anxiety symptoms at least 60% of the time. This is just one of the statistics in support of the many benefits people who meditate experience. The key to successful meditation is learning relaxation techniques. Since the whole idea here is calmness and tranquility, this is the vibe you want the space to reflect. Having a room in your house dedicated to meditation brings further functionality to your sanctuary.

That said, minimal is best. You don't want a lot of distractions here. You'll want some seating options that promote relaxation, such as a hammock, a Papasan chair, a beanbag chair, a gaming chair/lounge, or a hanging chair. Some large, healthy potted plants symbolize nature and tranquility in the space. Use a light, pastel, or neutral color scheme. Plenty of large, soft throw pillows and thick, fuzzy blankets should be strategically placed throughout the room. Consider aromatherapy and candles for ambiance. Lighting is one of the most important features, and will represent the overall vibe of the space. You want the place to be warm, comfortable, and inviting but simple and free from too much distraction. And bonus: These pieces are easy to move when you want to change the room's purpose.

Have family movie nights in a designated media room/movie theater

Going to the movie theater regularly has become unaffordable for most families. And getting everyone together to watch something you can all agree on is a feat itself! Still, we can all agree on how important spending time as a family together is. Movie nights remain a staple for many families, so why not transform your flex room into a movie room to help bring your loved ones together? Bring the fun and excitement of going to the movie theater right to your doorstep, giving your house a whole new level of functionality.

There's a lot you can do to make the room functional by day and transform it into a movie theater by night. Use a darker color scheme like gray, brown, or blue, ideally with a matte finish to keep reflection and glare down. These are all popular colors that can easily transition to whatever you transform the room into next. Have blackout curtains or blinds hung on the windows so that you can pull them shut at night. These will be easy to swap out if you change the room. As for the television setup, you can skip buying a huge flatscreen TV that would anchor you to the space, and instead buy a projector and screen. 

Make the perfect space for doing a favorite hobby

Do you have a hobby you're pretty good at and would love to be able to spend more time practicing it? Don't let your talents go unnoticed. Instead, give them the space they need to develop and thrive. Create a hobby room with everything you need right at your fingertips. If you're not the only one in the family with a hobby you enjoy, you can separate and share the room. Perhaps even make it an all-around arts and crafts space, and have fun stocking it with everything under the sun!

To create the space, look for temporary storage systems like the Kallax cubbie shelf from Ikea. It's lightweight and easy to move if you flip the room later down the road, but it also provides great storage. You can fill the cubbies with bins, storing all your craft supplies. You can also incorporate multi-functional furniture in the space that you can repurpose later down the road. Some examples include a large desk you can use in a home office, a large coffee table you can use in the family room, or foldout tables you can easily store in the garage or basement. You can also make the craft room a hybrid guestroom by including a pullout couch or a Murphy bed resembling a cabinet.

Turn the space into a display room for your collection

Depending on what you like to collect, you might want to use the space to display the collection. For example, say you have a wide assortment of art glass, or maybe you fancy zebras. You could turn your flex room into your quirky collection room, and have fun putting it together!

Rather than getting a chunky china cabinet or hutch, invest in lightweight glass cases that can display your treasures. Ikea has affordable options. If your flex room is large, you can also use it as a hybrid room. For example, your display room can double as a guest room with the addition of a foldout couch. It can also act as a formal parlor if you like to entertain, with your collection as decor. You can also mesh it with a home library, decorating the shelves with books and knick-knacks. 

Create a fun environment for online gaming or playing board games

Speaking of great functionality, why not turn the flex room into a fun game room? This could actually take on many different forms, depending on what type of game room you intend. You might want a big screen and gaming chairs for online gaming. In that case, you may even have specialized equipment to visit the Metaverse. Another option is you might want a large table with comfortable seating around it for playing board games on family night.

Whatever your game room goals are, you'll need plenty of space for games and accessories. Try glass cabinets and benches with storage space inside. For seating, focus on modular sofas, which are easy to move when changing the room's purpose. You can even disperse the pieces around the house, using the seats where they're most needed. If you want to include online gaming, one idea is to hide the gaming screen behind sliding doors when not in use. Additionally, you might want to set up a mini-refrigerator filled with drinks and snacks. You can later use that in a bevy of different rooms, from stocking water in the home gym to ice coffees in the office.

Make it an easily convertible guest room

Having a guest room is essential, especially during holidays or impromptu sleepovers. You never know when having the space for an unexpected guest will come in handy! That's one of the best parts about having a flex room — they can often double as a guest room when needed. And there are many ways to incorporate bedroom pieces while keeping them hidden. 

For example, you can install a Murphy bed or wall bed that folds right up into the wall when not in use. Of course, you can also opt for a hide-away bed that folds right out of the couch or chest of drawers. Another option is a loft bed, which can be purchased as a top bunk bed with a matching desk on the bottom. This is a terrific idea for a dual-purpose home office and guest room in one. Talk about boosting functionality!

Turn the space into a fantasy themed library for reading

If you're a book lover, turn your flex space into a library with a couple of nice tall bookcases to display and organize your books in style. Rather than choosing built-ins, you can invest in a row of lightweight bookcases that have the look of built-ins, but are easy to move when you want to change the room's purpose. On the other hand, if you're dead-set on built-ins, try to design them in a way that makes their purpose flexible. Adding a row of cabinets on the bottom and only sticking to shelving on top can easily translate to a home office, family room, play area, or guest bedroom. 

You need seating in a library, but you might feel limited with a sofa. Instead, try finding deep lounge chairs that you can later move anywhere from your living room to your bedroom to the office. Stylish ottomans can be added to prop up your feet.

How to create a flex room if you don't already have one

Now that we've gone over all these ideas for your flex room and how it can increase the functionality of your home, what if you don't have one? If you have some space in an attic, basement, or garage, you have the potential makings of a flex room. And if you don't have a whole room available, you can also make a flex space out of a walk-in closet or store room, even an unused basement corner. If you really think about it, you will likely come up with something.

Many homes being built today include a flex room, and its popularity is not likely to wane. People are starting to demand more from their living space, and the flex room is the latest manifestation of this. It's a great way to give every square foot of usable space in your home a function that works with your current needs.