Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Bonus Room - OR - Storage with a Mortgage?

In the 1980's, residential architecture changed significantly as architects began including undesignated living space in many new home plans. They called this extra space a "bonus room".  Clever, huh?

The bonus room revolutionized residential design because prior to that time, most homes lacked auxiliary space. If an office or extra bedroom was needed, owners usually had to add on to the home. Such additions were costly, inconvenient, and not always in keeping with existing design.

The function of the bonus room was purposely undefined by architects. This allowed homeowners to decide how the room could be used to best fit their needs. What architects did not envision, however, was that the bonus room would be a catch-all space for so many homeowners.

A bonus room should be just that -- a BONUS. Unfortunately, most bonus rooms we see during our staging and design consultations are far from being termed a plus. Our experience has been that most bonus rooms fall into one of two categories. The first is a bland, nearly vacant space with little character, scale, or purpose. The second is what we refer to as storage with a mortgage. It is a room crammed so full of stuff that it cannot function aesthetically, efficiently, nor effectively.

Take a look at these rooms and consider whether, as a buyer, they would seem like a bonus to you . . .

Transforming an underwhelming room into a real bonus is not difficult. Really all it takes is some decisiveness. Simply choose how the room should function and stick to it! If the room is to be an office, don't let it turn into an office + workout station + kids kingdom + media room + storage center. And if the room must do double duty, limit it to no more than 2 functions per 1000 sq. ft. 

Recently we tackled a bonus room that wasn't exactly sure what it wanted to be. It pretty much fell into the first bonus room category of bland, unbalanced, and needing purpose. Take a look . . .

Because the room was really only used as a hangout for teens, it was pretty much an afterthought to the homeowners. No art was hung, more light was needed, and the room just wasn't in keeping with the rest of the home. Simply -- it was probably not the bonus that buyers in this price point were seeking.

To show off the room's amazing possibilities while at the same time keeping its function as a teen hangout in tact, we had to rearrange and accessorize. First we separated the huge sectional to form a more symmetrical conversational grouping. Breaking down the large sectional AND opening the drapes helped to achieve better balance in the room. It no longer felt as if the room was weighted on just one end.

We counterbalanced the large furniture grouping by adding a console table at the opposite end of the room.
Finally we brought the room to life by adding art, accessories, and light elements. 
The room remains true to its primary function as a teen hangout, yet the design is sophisticated enough to appeal to adults and wow buyers. The transformation is a real bonus that will never be mistaken as just storage with a mortgage.