Living in a world of multi-tasking in a fast-paced work and home environment, we often see the need for multi-purpose or hybrid rooms in our homes. Whether that be due to a small living space, a busy lifestyle, creativity or a lesson learned from COVID-19. Homes have become our go-to place for everything from sleeping, to work, play, and exercise.
Post-Covid Reality or Going Back to What Was?
Using a space for multiple purposes is what many of us discovered during the pandemic and massive lockdown in 2020. We had to share our home with our family or flatmates 24/7. AND we had to make it work for everyone, while at the same time going on with our lives working, studying, maintaining relationships, keeping our kids safe and happy, and focusing on self-care. The modern woman/man/family tries to do it all. What is more, in some cases we have very limited space to work with, so we felt extra pressure to fit in those tasks.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder whether the multi uses of a space is not a trend but something natural, a practice from the past. Back when families used to live all together in smaller spaces sharing an environment and making the most of it and that was simply the norm.
The 10 Commands of Making a Space Hybrid
Regardless of the reason for setting up a hybrid space at home, it is possible to make it work by applying a few tips and tricks we have gathered for you below.
#1 – Make it match you and your needs
Whether you are the one designing your hybrid space or you are working with a professional, the starting point will always be you and anyone else that will be sharing that room with you. Make it yours by specifying your exact needs and expectations. Planning is key – define the users and uses, and make a list of essentials to get going.
#2 – Look for extra space in the corners
Even if your space is big enough to fit two or more different zones, you will still need to optimize it. Therefore the key is to look for extra space. EVERYWHERE. One of the most neglected areas are the corners, the in-between. Luckily, there are numerous corner desks and corner shelves available on the market in case you decide to replace the typical corner plant or lamp.
#3 – Vertical expansion
Looking for more space? Look up and find a world of possibilities! Walls aren’t just for paintings, photos, and other decorative items. They add more “hidden” square footage to a room, so you can hang stuff on the wall, like this bicycle for example. A more typical example is the bunk bed often found in kids’ rooms. An absolute space-saver, especially when it comes with integrated desks or drawers!
#4 – Multi-functional furniture
Now, this is key, because you need ammunition or some kind of a secret weapon to attack the space available. Multi-functional furniture can really help a hybrid space unfold.
“It may seem obvious, but the very first rule of multi-functional design is to utilize multi-functional furnishings: pieces that fold away neatly to free up floor space when they’re not in use, or double-duty pieces that transform into something else entirely.”
For instance, let’s take a look at this IKEA hack – a dining room and a home office using the same table/desk, who would have thought? Folding chairs added to then mix and voilá! Of course, the list goes on and the trick applies to all kinds of dual-purpose furniture items such as sofa-beds, wall-beds, ottoman cubes, etc.
#5 – Double-duty space
What naturally comes to mind when designing a hybrid room is to separate the spaces, add a shelf in between the two areas for example. However, a different idea is to mix and match, blend the two and create a double-duty space. In fact, in tiny homes, this is a must due to the lack of room for division and separation. The IKEA hack above is the perfect example!
#6 – Declutter and organize
You have your extra corner, wall, and whatnot more space, plus your functional furniture. The big stuff made it. Still, you need to make sure you can fit in the small stuff. Storage is crucial for hybrid spaces. The ottoman cube previously mentioned for example provides for some secret storage room. Some ideas are even more creative than ready-made furniture:
You can even hang up colorful tote bags on the back of your children’s bedroom doors for quickly stashing toys after they’re done playing.
#7 – Add layers of lighting
Lighting can really change how a space looks, feels, and functions. Design partners Ward-Woods and her sister Barbara Elliott argue that light sources are not simply decorative but play a virtual role in designing a hybrid space. When placed strategically they can help differentiate between different-purpose areas. Task lighting is required for reading corners, desk lamps for the home office in your bedroom, and dimmable lights that can be adjusted for the entertainment room. Basically, lighting is associated with all the uses of a room and needs to be designed well.
#8 – Color is your ally
Use color as a divider! A different-colored wall for the home-office area makes it stand out as a separate space. An accent wall is a nice modern touch!
#9 – Zone the space
If a double-duty space is not what you need or like, and if you have enough room, you can try to create different zones by placing room dividers or rugs to differentiate areas. Depending on the shape of the room and the way people would move within it, you strategically place the furniture to facilitate this movement.
#10 – Style consistency
Mix but always match! Try keeping a consistent look even when division takes place. A hybrid room should feel like a whole, so one can easily flow from one purpose area to another without feeling overwhelmed. To avoid sensory overload, keep colors and styles similar.
Preview, preview, preview! With a tool like RoomBox you can apply as many of the tips above to your exact room and see what works and what doesn’t. No need to jump in the ocean when you can take a tiny dip first.
Multiuse in action – a case study
We have put together a brief example with some of the tips mentioned above. A living room / home-office is one of the most common multipurpose rooms that comes with the major challenge to separate work and play (or relaxation if you wish). Here is how we made that work in RoomBox:
You can do it!
Whether you are looking for a versatile room to spend more time in, have limited space, or just wish to add extra functionality to your home, a hybrid space is possible to create and enjoy. It is actually a lot of fun to envision it with RoomBox so why not start there and take on the challenge!