Flex spaces are a versatile solution that can adapt to...

Flex spaces are a versatile solution that can adapt to the way you live. Credit: Getty Images/SrdjanPav

As lifestyles shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic, our homes had to adapt to new activities and routines. Dining rooms and closets became home offices, kids' bedrooms served as home-school spaces, and guest rooms were outfitted with workout equipment.

Even as we look toward a post-pandemic future, homeowners are increasingly using "flex spaces" as a versatile solution for previously underused areas.

"People are realizing that an entire room in their home dedicated to an occasional houseguest may not be the best use of space — a commodity that has become decidedly more precious over the past year," said Los Angeles designer Stefani Stein. To maximize function within your home's existing floor plan, follow these tips for creating a flex space that works with your lifestyle.

Think outside a room's assigned function

Consider your home's least-used spaces, such as a formal dining room, breakfast nook, sitting room or extra closet, and how they could be put to better use. Your home's builder might have intended the room for a specific purpose, but feel free to readjust if that doesn't align with your everyday priorities. "Nothing is off-limits for reimagining how a space can be used," says interior designer Shaolin Low of the Honolulu-based Studio Shaolin.

Consider long-term needs

Consider how your needs might change as time goes on, and plan for flexibility. "If you have young children at home, think about how it will be used as they grow up," Low said. "If you will host a lot of family or guests in the future, think about how you'll accommodate." Opt for lightweight, easy-to-move furniture to help ensure your setup can be rearranged as needed.

Consider alternatives to large and bulky equipment, such as tension bands that can be kept in a decorative bin or basket.

Plan for storage

Incorporate plenty of storage into your flex room to manage clutter and maximize space. Add storage that can be closed off, with doors or lids to hide messes, and choose furniture or containers that can stylishly and efficiently accommodate your storage needs, whether that's for workout gear, office supplies, toys or other items.

Compartmentalize

If your flex space will serve multiple functions, section off areas of the room for each need. For example, designate one corner for a home office and use the other side of the room as a workout space. Room dividers or shelving units can serve as physical barriers that separate the space and offer added privacy. For a visual cue, lay down rugs or paint an accent wall to specify different sections.

Use flexible furniture

Outfit your room with pieces that can transform to suit different needs or activities. Look for nesting furniture that can be stacked or separated, tables with extendible leaves or fold-down mechanisms, and armoires that can open up to reveal a workspace. Just be sure to measure the room carefully before purchasing furniture.

Reflect your personality

Customize your flex space to suit your style. Use it as an opportunity to showcase your personality and passions: Go bold with a dramatic paint color or patterned wallpaper. Or tailor it to a certain hobby or interest.

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