The Perfect Multipurpose Room: How to Design One That Works For You and Your Family


If you have a spare room in your house, several family members will no doubt be clamoring to claim it as their own.

A perfect solution is to turn the space into a multipurpose room, one that can function as more than one thing to one person.

Interior decorator Liz Kohart of Garden City-based Liz Kohart Interiors did just that, recently turning an unfinished third-floor attic in Garden City into a home office for dad and hangout room for the teenage kids.

The room now has a built-in wall unit with TV, shelving, cabinets, and drawers, to store games and other recreational items and seating, including a sofa and two swinging basket chairs that hang from the ceiling. An alcove of the room is a dedicated office area for the dad, who had been working from home remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the room is basically one big open space, the office alcove, which has a built-in desk, file cabinet and computer monitors, is a somewhat self-contained area set apart from the rest of the room.

Details, Details, Details

Knowing that they intended to eventually finish the attic, the owners, who bought the house several years ago, had the space completely climate controlled with heating and air conditioning.

The renovation, which took 3 months, included adding shiplap to the walls and ceiling, which, Kohart says, brings a casual, modern farmhouse look to the space. Built-in window seats under the eave serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Recessed lighting was chosen to illuminate much of the space because it takes up less visual space in the room and makes the room feel bigger, explains Kohart.

“With the addition of recessed lighting in this space we were able to add high-hats on different switches that all have dimmers,” she adds. “So, we control the amount of light and the intensity of the light.”

Starting from one big open room, the contractor closed off some of the space for closets and storage in the eave, leaving the rest of the space open.

“For the built-in area, we used reclaimed wood from old buildings from Manhattan that’s really cool looking,” says Kohart.

Options, Options, Options

Though the dad has since returned to work mostly outside the home, the new room gives him and his family more flexibility.

“He says maybe one day a week from now on he’ll be able to work from home, where that wasn’t an option before,” notes Kohart.

Since the room was completed in January, the family has made great use of it.

“Even when they entertain friends, they all end up going up there and hanging out because everyone loves it,” Kohart says.

Next to the new third-floor office/hangout room, Kohart put finishing touches on a new bathroom, complete with shower, which opens yet another possible use for the renovated space: a private suite for guests.

How you choose to designate a multipurpose room depends on your individual needs.

A multipurpose room can accommodate any combination of varied hobbies and avocations, from quilting to scrapbooking, painting, journaling, playing an instrument, and composing music, to just about anything your heart desires.