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Bending With the Times

Flexible spaces are now the in thing

May 2023

“Flex rooms” can be used as an office, guest room or playroom.

by Les O’Dell, Contributing Writer

One of the hottest terms and trends in home design is flexible spaces. More and more people are wanting to get more and more utility from rooms, and they are designing spaces with a variety of uses in mind.

“When you think of a room and the purpose of that room, keep in mind that the use of that room may change during the home’s lifetime,” says home builder Donna Youngquist of R&D Custom Homes in Lincoln, Neb. “Every home we’ve been doing the last few years has included a flex room.”

Youngquist says these flexible spaces range from unfinished portions of basements to would-be bedrooms, craft rooms, offices, playrooms and more.

“We’re seeing a resurgence in multiuse spaces,” explains Andrew Brindley, an Indiana home builder. “These are ‘flex rooms’ that can be an office, guest room or playroom. These include spaces that historically might have been known as a game room or a bonus room, but they’re just being programmed a little bit more. It might be a home office with a Murphy bed so that when cousins are in from out of town, it is their space.”

He adds that many homeowners include flexible spaces with an eye toward the future. “People with a two- or three-bedroom home that may be more than enough space, now are realizing that they may need three or four bedrooms and they are getting all set for that.”

Brindley explained that flexible spaces are not only forward-thinking, but many of them also serve multiple functions. “These are rooms that may be a work-from-home room two days a week, a kids’ homework room at night, or whatever, just to allow the homeowner to adjust its use as they go throughout the day and week.”

Greg Kissel, a designer with Evansville, Indiana’s Home Design Group, says his firm tries to provide homeowners with options. “Sometimes we’ll have a room that’s designated as an office, but later will become a bedroom. Or, we’ll have unfinished space in a walkout basement that the owners could potentially turn into a bedroom in the future. Or, extra living quarters, perhaps even with a small kitchenette or something like that.”

He says adaptability is key when it comes to flexible spaces. “Every family is different. They are going to use the space based upon their lifestyle, the number in the family, and other factors,” he says. “What we are really trying to do is think about the potential uses.”

Les O’Dell writes about living trends for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.