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Your kids have finally left the nest (so sad!), but just think of what you can do with that spare bedroom (cue happy dance!). Perhaps you don't have kids, just an extra room that's accumulating clutter. The question remains: What should you do with this spare?
Face it, home gyms or offices are pretty tired ideas. If you're in need of some fresher inspiration, look no further than these surprising possibilities below.
Why not put together a space the whole family can enjoy?
"Try setting up a game room where you can unwind after work or have family time on the weekend," suggests Carly Pokornowski Moeller, owner of Unpatterned, an interior design firm in Chicago.
You can install shelves on the walls for board games and bins to hold playing cards and dominoes, she says. A table and comfy chairs for card games and even a small fridge for refreshments are great add-ons. Finish the look by mounting a flat-screen and media center for video game systems. Good times!
Carol Marcotte, an interior designer and owner of Form & Function in Raleigh, NC, is busy working to overhaul a spare room for a client right now.
"This room isn't a bedroom, but it happens to be an extra empty space that I think would work well as a cocktail lounge," she says. "It's a sunroom that opens onto the kitchen, dining, and living rooms, but with the addition of a few chairs, rug, side table, lamp, and a bar cart, it's transformed into a chic spot for guests.
"We're considering this bar cart, though you could easily set up a bar on top of a dresser or TV tray, too."
Who hasn't fantasized about a big walk-in closet?
"So often a homeowner uses her spare room as a mixed-use space, and it ends up getting cluttered," points out Kami Gray, an interior designer in Portland, OR. "Meanwhile, the closet is often jam-packed and disorderly. This kind of room is the perfect solution to both problems and becomes a sanctuary at the same time."
Creating a special dressing room is also much cheaper than buying a home with a dream closet already installed, says Anna Shiwlall, an interior designer at 27 Diamonds in Los Angeles. By using a spare room, there's usually enough space for an island with a beautiful chandelier above it and a seating area.
"And when you can see all of your clothes, shoes, and handbags, it helps you stay organized and your things act as artwork in room," she says.
OK, it's not really a "cellar," but a spare room can easily be changed into a Napa-style wine tasting room.
"You can turn the former closet of a spare bedroom into the sink/fridge/ice maker area, and then close the door when it's not in use," explains Lorena Canals, a home living expert in Hastings on Hudson, NY. Hang vintage wine posters and add soft leather chairs -- and you've got yourself a room that will make all your friends jealous. And that's what this is all about, right?
Living mindfully is all the rage now, so make a spot to stretch, do a few downward dogs, have a cup of tea, or simply close your eyes and breathe.
"Layer a few floor pillows and cushions on top of a neutral rug, and bring in greenery with select houseplants," suggest Kirstin Hoffmann, director of merchandising and curation at Dot & Bo in San Francisco. Canals agrees with the concept.
"Don't forget an iPod bluetooth speaker for your meditation music and a table for candles -- and your spot to cleanse and clear the mind will be all set."
A single-use room is fine, but it can be hard to give over the space for a sole purpose. To the rescue is an idea from Kathryn LaBarbera, president of Closet Factory and a design industry veteran. "One of the biggest trends right now when it comes to redoing a spare space is to create a flex room with a Murphy or wall bed," she says.
So while you enjoy your home office, yoga studio, or craft room by day, at night or during the holidays you can still have guests over.
"Flexibility is especially important as newly built homes continue to shrink. A dual purpose for every room should be on your list of home improvements," she says.