Create a Multipurpose Rooms in Small Homes

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Smallness in the past has often been equated with poverty. However people with plenty of money spend their holidays in very cramped conditions on yachts, in caravans or in tents and can enjoy themselves. In many cases it seems cosier. What is noticeable now, especially in large cities like London and New York, is the partly economic and partly fashion-driven trend to make the very most of a small room or flat. The one-room flat becomes a totally designed space with all the necessary functions slotted in by using imaginatively designed fitted furniture and fold-away systems. Inspiration for these designs has often been gained from the interiors of train sleepers, boats or even the space shuttle.

Why do some of us think we need such large houses? It can be a desire for status or somewhere to set off or store an excess of possessions. Alternatively, a large house can be used as a way of remaining aloof or private from others. Whatever the reasoning, we should remember when we are thinking of moving house that having a small, appropriately-sized home has considerable ecological benefits.

Multipurpose rooms
Small space living necessitates using the same space for different activities, one of the most obvious ways of making the best use of space within your home. Of course most people do this anyway with certain rooms, but it was much more common in the past.

All housing started as a one-room dwelling space and this can still be seen in many parts of the world. However our rooms have become gradually more specialised along with the increased specialisation of our lives.

The following are the commonest activities that we perform in our homes:
  • Sleeping
  • Food storing and preparing
  • Eating
  • Washing our bodies
  • Excreting
  • Washing clothes
  • Relaxing: reading, sitting
  • Playing games
  • Craft working or DIY
  • Cleaning
  • Meditating
  • Growing plants
  • Entertaining friends
  • Office working
  • Watching TV
  • Playing music
  • Exercising
  • Writing & homework
Some opulent houses have separate rooms devoted to each of these activities, often more for show than for convenience. Each activity can even be sub-divided to spawn dressing rooms and breakfast rooms etc., but most of us combine some of the activities and fit them to the rooms we have available. However, we still often feel that to have more rooms would be an advantage. We need to balance up the seeming convenience of a separate room for each activity with the wastefulness of having expensively equipped accommodation idle for much of the time.

With all the ideas and technology available today, it is possible to achieve ingenious arrangements with fold-away beds, revolving furniture, the use of blinds, curtains, and special lighting, etc. This can be an exciting process to embark on, if you need inspiration, some magazines have sections specialising in rooms where spaces have been used to maximum effect. The treatment can seem expensive in time and money but is usually considerably less costly than a conversion or extension.

You can think which activities already occupy the same space in your home and then, by looking at the list above, which further combinations you might be able to employ in order to make space for self-sufficiency or some of your more pressing requirements. It is in the detailed design of these rooms that success depends; if you feel unsure in this area, call in a designer who can help you work out an attractive arrangement.
Space for a retreat or meditation room

One example of combining activities which does not involve extra furniture is the idea of combining a room as a meditation room or retreat. Here the idea is to choose a room in the house which you can strip of all clutter and have only things in the room which you find harmonious, simplicity is the key. I am choosing to emphasise this as it brings together the ecology of space within our homes, our physical health and psychological well-being. Some people choose the bedroom, others the bathroom or the attic. This ensures that there is at least one room in the house free from clutter which allows us to clear our mind and focus on whatever we choose, be it meditation, positive visualisations, empowering ourselves, exercise or simple relaxation.