Don't Waste Your Flex Space

While "The Nightmare on Elm Street" series may be frightening to some, a wasted, messy space is what keeps interior designers up at night. If this (pictured) looks familiar to you, you probably have a "flex room." Basically, when a room doesn't have a closet it cannot legally be classified as a bedroom, so builders label these rooms "flex rooms" and let the residents decide how it should be used.

In a recent Vancouver Sunarticle, Designer Erik Lauzon stated that a flex room can sometimes easily turn into a dump. He says if you want it to be a storage room, fine. If you want it to be a home office, that's even better. But Lauzon cautions against using the room for both a workspace and storage.

Read on to learn how to make the most of these limited spaces...This flex room (pictured left) is a great example of making the most of small spaces. When dealing with a small area, I always recommend building up when you can't build out. While this flex room measures only 6 by 8 it has tons of storage. The short wall has inexpensive shelving installed floor to ceiling. The long wall features an affordable desk created by placing a board across a sawhorse and filing cabinet. Don't be afraid to use dark colors in small rooms. Painting the short wall a dark color de-emphasizes the fact that it is a narrow room.

This flex room (pictured right) was even smaller, measuring in at only 5 by 6! Thankfully, it had two windows, which really helped to open up the space. Since the condo owner already had a home office, we decided to make her flex room into a private reading nook. The most important piece was a comfy reading chair with a matching ottoman so she could really stretch out in comfort while enjoying her latest book. There wasn't enough room next to the chair for a side table, so we opted for a floor lamp with built in shelving. Now she has good lighting and a place to set her book and a beverage.

flex space officeThe final photo is the most ambitious use of a flex room. This loft space at the top of a townhouse staircase measures a meager 8 by 8, but feels more like a room of twice that size thanks to the large window and lack of four walls. This room serves as both a home office and a guest room. When visitors arrive, the leather director's chair at the desk folds up to make room for the small loveseat to convert into a guest bed. The ottoman is used as a luggage rack and a basket with toiletries, towels, and bottled water is placed on the desk as a welcome gesture for all who visit.

Square footage is at a premium these days. Now you are armed with ideas and inspiration to make the most of yours.

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. She creates one-of-a kind interiors for homes, offices, motorcoaches, and yachts. Follow on Twitter @thedesigndiva.
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