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  • Writer's pictureMelichar Architects

Multi-functional Spaces

Over the last few months, many of you have realized how valuable a multi-functional space can be. A room that offers flexibility and ease of transitioning into something else. A space that can be an office or study during the day, and guest bedroom at night. Or the ever-increasing popularity of a mudroom – with all kinds of functions including laundry room, craft room, potting station, mail sorting, dog grooming…just to name a few! When a room or space has more than one purpose, it becomes that much more valuable and useful!

So, how do you maximize your space without adding extra square footage?


Creating a multi-functional room without making it look and feel like two separate spaces can feel like quite the challenge. The key to a multi-functional space is thoughtful planning and creative design solutions. You must consider who is going to use the space, their needs and the ideal uses for the space. Do you need an office that can also function as an exercise/yoga room?

Or maybe a dining room that can also serve as a space for remote learning? Whatever the use may be, making sure the space serves its purpose(s) while maintaining a cohesive flow is essential to having a multi-functional space.

Dining room with Library by Melichar Architects

The space above can serve many functions. Dining room, library, study, family game night...the options are endless. Creating a successful multi-purpose space means integrating elements that both compliment and enhance the existing space.

Go Vertical

The best way to get the most out of your space is going vertical with storage. Utilizing storage from floor to ceiling not only saves you floor space but also allows you to stay organized and clutter free. Incorporating desk space into any built-in instantly transforms any space into a workstation. Lighting also plays an important role in achieving a functional space. For workstations, be sure to have appropriate task lighting and as much natural light as possible.

Study by day, hang-out by night by Melichar Architects

Layered Lighting

Use different sources of light to accommodate the many different activities in a multi-functional space. Pay particularly close attention to the locations, sources and color renditions of the lighting. For instance, brighter, ceiling down-lighting may be really useful for activities at table top height, such as homework, family board games and puzzle making. But overhead lighting can be glaring and uncomfortable if yoga exercise is being undertaken in the same room. In that case, it’s better to have an indirect source for light that won’t be right in your eyes. A floor lamp with soothing light tucked in the corner might be the solution. Warmer colored lighting produces peaceful, calming settings, while cooler lighting colors provoke energy and activity.

Multi-functional Furniture

Versatile furniture pieces are an easy way to creating multi-functional spaces. Coffee tables that double as seating, side tables that can double as desk space, built-ins with a murphy bed and hutches that store away paperwork, printers and loose items. Lightweight pieces are easy to move around and reconfigure while stationary furniture pieces serve both as décor and storage.

Multi-purpose space by Melichar Architects

Versatile Decorating

Multi-use spaces get a lot of wear and tear because they are heavily used by many members of your family. They should also be multi-generational, meaning that they can accommodate people of many ages. Consider furnishings, fabrics, and flooring and wall materials that can withstand abuse, but don’t appear institutional. Upholstered furnishings and drapes help to absorb noise, which can travel from room to room if left unchecked.

Easily washable fabrics in patterns that hide stains, or easily wipeable leather-type products are sure winners. “Warmer” feeling floor materials, such as floor carpet and softer rubber tiles, are good for smaller children who play on the floor or watch TV. Make sure that the carpet is level, without a lot of bumps, or children will be frustrated when their towers of toys collapse! Dirt and debris have a tendency to collect in shag rugs, which don’t help with allergens. Washable flooring materials, such as vinyl and laminates, are other good options but beware that rugs placed on top of any hard flooring can pose a tripping hazard for older folks.

A good architect can understand your needs and your lifestyle, and appropriately plan out spaces that have overlapping functions. Whether the space is large or small, creative thinking will go a long way!


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