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    Transform Your Spare Room: Decorating Ideas for Maximizing Space and Style

    I know for some military renters and homeowners, trying to figure out precisely what to do with an extra room in the house is a luxurious problem to have. I was grateful to have the “problem” to contend with in one of our houses.

    However, decorating your spare room is challenging if you don’t first establish an everyday use. Choosing a primary and secondary function for the room is the best way to build stylistic choices around a theme, like an office-guest room combo.

    If you don’t have a specific intent for the room, it quickly becomes a closet/junk/play/dumping ground with stacks of things you wish you weren’t purging or packing during PCS time. And when it comes time for guests? Well, the camping air mattress gets tossed on the floor amongst decades of tax records and “vintage” prom dresses from the 1990s. This setup isn’t good for anyone.

    Here’s how to avoid wasted space and transform your spare room.

    Transform Your Spare Room Decorating Ideas for Maximizing Space and Style

    1) Create a Home Office/Guest Room

    A spare room, often by default, converts into a guest room pretty quickly. However, for those who don’t usually have guests, the room’s use should ideally be for something with regular use, such as a home office, but with a guest room twist.

    The best way for the space to pull double duty is to avoid letting the entire room appear as just an office or just a guest bedroom. To do this, creative storage and furniture placement is essential. A queen or king-size bed is hard to work around if it's a permanent fixture in the room, so if you have the chance, consider an alternative. 

    desk with chair in spare room office

    Photo from Canva

    The term Murphy bed sounds as old as an episode of Laverne & Shirley, but they are drastically different now. The company Zoom Room has elevated the pull-down mattress ingenuity to a new level. The beds are built into an attractive wall shelving unit, completely hidden until accessed by a remote control. No lifting or heaving is involved. While working in the office, you’ll forget that a bed is stored just feet away.

    Zoom Room provides a permanent solution for the duality of the room, but what if something more temporary or less costly is needed? You can naturally hide plenty of bed options within couches and sofas of all sizes. Add a chair-and-a-half or a day bed with a trundle underneath for more sleeping capacity. The most storage-friendly option may be one like this high-end inflatable bed from Frontgate.

    2) Plan for Creative Storage

    Built-in desks, shelves, and racks flush with perimeter walls or tucked-in closets are the optimal way to trick out a spare room to serve two purposes in an aesthetically pleasing way, but this might not be a viable option with constraining time or budgets. If designing the room from scratch isn't possible, looking for furniture pieces with storage built in is the next best way to go.

    For instance, use a pillow-packed daybed to hide linens, pillows, and sheets in baskets underneath. An armoire with a drop-down desk can conceal office equipment, towels, and robes for guests. Ottomans usually serve as storage options, too. Furniture with casters allows optimal space, reconfiguring the layout before and after guests leave.

    hands outlining design plans for spare room storage

    Photo from Shutterstock

    3) The Fun Part: Let the Decorating Begin! 

    An easy way for a spare room to serve two purposes is for the color backdrop to be neutral. Variations on grey, beige, and even some blues for wall color give you lots of decorative layering choices perfect for an office/guest room. Neutral paint is also a money saver when you feel the urge to change up the look of the room with only accessories.

    Rugs, window treatments, and other accessories can tell a color story that is adjustable on a whim or when there is a great deal at HomeGoods for new spring pillows. Office furniture is more than black and gray metal these days, so look into painted file cabinets, a beautifully upholstered office chair, and desktop accessories with vibrant prints to match the color choices in the room. 


    via Adina Flickr

    If you are still stuck on how to start adding the "pretty" when it comes to decorating your spare room, use the rest of the house as inspiration and pull themes from other spaces in the home. It’s likely you have a repeating color or pattern you’re drawn to repeatedly. Add it to the spare room as well for a cohesive look and personality that is all yours.

    I recommend contemplating the five style questions key to adding style to any room in the house. Gather the answers before designing the space, and they will guide the look and feel not only for this spare room combination, but for these possibilities as well:

    • Hobby/Guest Room
    • Play/Guest Room
    • Office/Homework Room

    Have fun, only buy pieces you love, and never purchase items not on sale, even if it’s just the 10 percent military discount!

    Can't get enough of home décor and design ideas? Then, you'll love the rest of this home style and decorating series. We've gathered all the links for you in one place!

    Home Decorating Toolkit for Military Families

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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