Three things to do with a spare room

Squeeze the most out of your spare room by creating a space that serves you in more ways than one.

Bunnings magazine, December 2020

Changing places

These holidays, once guests have gone, your spare room could become a home study, somewhere to hit your New Year’s fitness resolutions, or even an extra play area for the kids. Here’s how.

Three things to do with a spare room

The versatile Flexi Storage Clever Cube system can be tailored to your needs.

The basics

For any multitasking space, you need multitasking furniture. A good, comfy sofa bed gives a room-neutral vibe when not in use. Low-pile carpet and rugs provide a good base for just about any use: great to even out the acoustics for Zoom meetings and a soft surface for floor-based warm-ups or playtime.

Hardworking storage is an essential; ensure yours meets your needs. The secret to an uncluttered look is hiding away paraphernalia – this could be as simple as a Clever Cube with colour-coded inserts for different items. For the ultimate in disguise, consider adding a built-in wardrobe with hanging space, shelving and drawers, with the aim to leave room for guests to stow their stuff when they visit.

General lighting is fine for most purposes, but to make it more appealing when it turns back into a guestroom, go for decorative lighting over plain downlights. Pretty wall sconces look lovely – place them either side of a mirror for putting on make-up, or bookending the sofa bed to serve as reading lights. Or make a statement with a gorgeous pendant; ask in-store about replacement light installation.

Keep the room’s multiple functions in mind when choosing window furnishings. Minimal coverings might do the trick for reducing glare on screens or filtering light for a calm meditation zone, but bear in mind the needs of a sleep space too. Shutters are great for versatility – tilt them for more or less light and privacy, as needed – or pair light-filtering sheers with block-out blinds.

Three things to do with a spare room

The work site

With more of us working remotely, magazines and social media feeds are flooded with home office inspiration. Choose a slimline desk to double as a dressing table, or build one in to make the best use of a smaller space. Add a decorative mirror to add ambience, and to tone down the “office” feel.

“You also need to ensure the colours you use will help in a study setting,” says Andrea Lucena-Orr, Dulux colour and communications manager. “Use colour to help stimulate creativity and thinking – uplifting colours such as orange and red can work in this setting, even in a muted way.”

A comfy office chair is a must. When your study is also your guestroom, an ergonomic chair will suit visitors who like to sit properly to use a laptop, write letters or fill in a journal.

Task lighting is essential for a desk area, but for a softer effect, choose a pretty lamp with a warmer glow, instead of a purely utilitarian white light. When guests arrive, leave it where it is to turn the desk into a dressing table, or move to the bedside for reading.

Three things to do with a spare room

Fitness foundation

A dedicated space for exercise and meditation is a true luxury. For high-intensity trainers and cardio lovers, you’ll need flooring that’s sweat-resistant – try vinyl or invest in interlocking foam tiles that you can stack away when not in use. Where possible, choose compact gym equipment or smaller, multipurpose pieces that can be easily hidden away.

When it comes to decor, home gyms are often neglected – this shouldn’t be the case if the room is doubling as accommodation. “Go for something more calming and cooler,” says Andrea. “Try a subtle blue, green or grey in a lighter to mid-tone hue for that soothing feel. Cooler tones are generally better for a relaxed environment.”

Three things to do with a spare room

Child’s play

Turning your sometimes-guestroom into a playroom for the kids has a long list of benefits, confining their mess (or most of it) to a single room of the house and teaching them a little about responsibility along the way. It’s also a place you can enjoy decorating, while still keeping it suitable for visitors.

“To add some fun, you can’t go past some stronger colour for a little playfulness,” suggests Andrea. “If it’s a darker space, try warmer colours such as yellows, oranges and muted reds/corals. You can also use stronger, bolder blues, greens and teals, especially if it’s facing a warmer aspect such as north or west.”

You could also try painting shelving or kids’ furniture in eye-catching hues – freestanding furnishings can always be moved out later if they’re too loud for a sleep space. To encourage order, drawers or labelled storage boxes tucked in a wardrobe or cupboard are best for hiding and organising toys and games.

Make a playroom shelf that kids and grown-up guests alike will love

Have a go at our D.I.Y. triangle shelf.


Photo credit: Belinda Merrie, Tim Wilson, Getty Images and Shania Shegedyn

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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