At first pass, everyone assumes an extra room is a boon. Yet differing opinions on how to use it — and budget for it — can quickly make extra home space seem more like a pill than a perk. To help, we’re spotlighting six ways to take a bonus room from blank to brilliant. Get inspired by these bonus room retreats that put extra square footage to excellent use.

RELATED READ: Out-of-the-Box Storage Furniture Ideas You’ll Love

Extra home space styled as a writer's office with black walls, a wood and marble center table, and wood art nouveau bookcase
Design by Eclectic Home New Orleans / Photo by Daymon Gardner


Other than extra storage space, a home office is usually high on house hunters’ wishlists. With that in mind, you likely won’t regret transforming an extra room into an office. If you happen to have cast-off furniture already residing in your extra room, try putting it to work it as office furniture. For instance, an inherited dining table can be fashioned as an executive desk, and mismatched dining chairs can be drafted as desk chairs. (If you have doubts about your dining chairs’ ability to be team players, upholster them in a complementary fabric or punch them up with an animal print pillow — always a great equalizer.)  A dark coat of paint can also be an effective unifier. Black or dark gray, for instance, impart an Old World feel that feels just right for a traditional office. Finish with a mix of built-in and antique wood shelving to evoke an eclectic mood.   

Extra home space with velvet turquoise tufted club chairs, and a green and white zig-zag rug
Design by Amy Morris / Photo by Erica George Dines


If you like the idea of turning an empty room into a library, but struggle with the idea of it feeling too formal, try designing one with playroom undertones. Liberate your library from the dark tones that dominate most classical libraries, and spring for bright white walls and shelving. To continue with the neo-traditional theme, opt for club chairs upholstered in a colorful fabric like teal velvet, and don’t hesitate to indulge in unique details like all-over tufting and pencil legs. Don’t think you have enough books to warrant a library? Try adding artwork to some of your empty shelves, or facing some books outward — library style — to display them more like art. Lastly, a fun flat-weave rug encourages kids to hit the floor and engage in more physical play, ensuring your hybrid room is as functional as it is gorgeous. 

Extra home space styled as a blue and white playroom
Design by Eclectic Home New Orleans / Photo by Jared Kuzia

Game Room 

Any empty room can become a winning game room with the addition of some extroverted color and playful furniture. To lay a cost-effective foundation, consider installing wall-to-wall carpet in a vibrant hue you might normally pass over, like blue, green, or purple. Because it’s generally okay for game rooms to feel like a stylistic anomaly from other rooms in your home, try a more overt wall treatment. A painted stripe or densely-patterned wallpaper can work wonders in making a game room feel like a separate world. If you have leftover furniture collecting in your empty room, consider rehabbing it with colored paint. Finally, a vintage game table can be a great way to insert more fun. Or, keep it cost effective and grab a box store bistro table and chairs and paint them a coordinating color. 

Extra home space styled as a mudroom with storage, gallery wall, and book tower
Design by Atelier Davis / Photo by Emily Followill


If your home has been endowed with double-wide hallways or an entryway with generous proportions, consider using it for extra storage space. To start, work in low shelving with open cubbies that can accommodate baskets for stowing odds and ends. For an even lower-cost alternative, baskets can be swapped for monochromatic plastic bins. If you opt for a max height of 18 to 20 inches, your storage cubbies can also double as a bench. To work in book storage — and add an element of height — try adding a book tower. Alternatively,  a floor mirror can add functionality and height. And because the entire set-up is casual, forgo formal artwork for unframed kids’ art. A casual pass-through is a great place to put mini masterpieces on display in a way that feels natural.

Extra living space styles as a music room with piano, burlwood table, and lavender swivel tub chairs
Design by Hattie Collins / Photo by Laura Steffan

Music Room 

You don’t need to be a serious artist to reap the benefits of a music room — hence the reason it’s always a worthy consideration when designing extra home space. From rock n’ roll to classical, there’s no shortage of directions you can take to a music room, either. If you have one, use a musical instrument as a jumping-off point. A grand piano is a zenith, but a harp or even a keyboard can work as well. Pair it with items like floor-to-ceiling drapes, crystal lamps, and slipper chairs to transform your extra room into a proper and sophisticated-feeling space. And keep in mind — adopting a less-traditional color scheme (like a millennial-esque lavender) can make everything feel infinitely cooler. 

Extra room furnished as an office and guest room with pink wallpaper, bohemian daybed, white desk, and wicker lamp
Design by Grace Home Furnishings / Photo by David Mitchell

Flex Space 

If you only have one extra room, chances are you want it to fulfill more than one purpose. Thankfully, with a little planning, it’s fairly easy to cue up a room that will cater to multiple tasks. If you’re looking to mix a guest room with an office, consider a bed that can double as lounge-seating, such as a futon or daybed. If the idea of a convertible bed feels too casual for you, deck it out an armload of colorful pillows to give it more of a plush and elevated look. Alternatively, opt for a standard sofa or chairs, but leave empty floorspace to make it easy for guests to throw down an air mattress or sleeping pad. 

Lead photo design by Hattie Collins / Photo by Laura Steffan


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April 25, 2023

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