Double-duty spaces: New trend of one room for multiple purposes
Interior designers dole out tips to remodel spaces into multifunctional abodes your spaces into multifunctional abode
Attending office meetings from the comfort of one’s home; working out in the living room; and ensuring that the kids complete their homework, but in the dining room—even though these situations may seem chaotic, the pandemic led us to a point where the walls separating different rooms have almost disappeared. Forced to stay within our homes, the urban population suddenly learnt to manage multiple tasks from a common area. This brought forth a resurgence of the age-old concept of multifunctional spaces.
This versatile interior post-COVID trend is primarily a setup wherein one room serves multiple purposes. With such spaces, designers attempt to create areas that are dual in purpose—office spaces efficiently used as workout areas, libraries that double up as a gaming zone, etc. Rahul Mistri, principal designer, Open Atelier Mumbai, explains the importance of such versatile areas, “With today’s real estate space crunch, multifunctional spaces are more of an approach—an approach of deriving design creativity in a confined space that can result in an elaborate experience.”
Distinct and ideal
Born out of necessity during the pandemic-induced lockdown, the idea of versatile spaces—in a post-pandemic world—only ensures optimum space utilisation while catering to our work-from-home needs. Apart from the prevalent combinations such as the kitchen-turned-dining room, Rishabh Kapoor, founder of Vasant Kunj-based Design Deconstruct, suggests making the most of clutter-free spaces.
“In compact areas with an open living and dining area, you can delineate a quiet, bright corner as a home office by defining it with an area rug or an over-the-desk light. Similarly, you can use the kitchen island or breakfast table for office work. All you need is a clutter-free space with a good desk lamp to focus.” Kapoor also advocates styling the space in a distinct manner—you can rearrange the furniture, use varied colour palettes, or install area-specific lights to create different zones—so as to assign separate functions to a common space.
For commercial projects such as retail showroom or offices, Mistri believes that one can introduce sliding walls, movable partitions, mobile furniture pieces, etc., in order to build a “symmetrical balance between mandatory requirements and inter-changing functions to ensure full-fledged optimisation”.
Minor tweaks, major impact
In most homes, open spaces are areas that can be used for multiple tasks by introducing minor tweaks. Ritu Gupta, director of the designer home developers Pramod Group, mentions, “Open-plan spaces create free-flowing spaces that look expansive while they contain many functional areas. Any brightly-lit corner in your living, dining, or bed room can be used as an office space or study nook. If you have a study or home office, it can turn into a gym or Yoga space after work.”
Other easy fixes include using breakfast tables to either dine or as a workstation; guest room as a home office or a makeshift gym; the deck can be a venue for meditation, and so on. There’s no hard-and-fast rule to adhere to; the idea is to keep it functional, stylish and clutter-free. Kapoor points out, “A room can be designed around its primary function, as a lounge or guest bedroom, but with a few tweaks, it can also be used for a secondary or even tertiary purpose.”
For those with home offices, designer and entrepreneur, Lipika Sud recommends using materials that are easy to maintain. "Furniture made out of laminates can be really easy to maintain as they are wipeable. Also stain proof fabrics are good options," she concludes.
FUNCTIONAL YET SUSTAINABLE
Here's how you can make a switch to multifunctional spaces by keeping the sustainable element intact:
With a conscious approach of saving space and reducing consumption of energy—one can definitely look at deriving sustainable design. Sustainability can also be implemented via multi-functional and reuse of materials and furnishings.
-RAHUL MISTRI, principal designer, Open Atelier Mumbai
The design must follow the mantra of ‘utility first and vanity later’. Often clients are not clear as to what they want, they may just come up with some fancy reference pictures. The focus of the designers should be to recommend the best possible solutions.
-RISHABH KAPOOR, founder, Design Deconstruct
Simple yet ergonomic desks or folding desks can be added to an available corner space to create a work station. Add functional, yet aesthetically pleasing, light furniture. Use natural light optimally so that you do not have to rely on electricity.
-RITU GUPTA, co-founder, Pramod Group
Adding floor mats and bean bags are inexpensive and sustainable ways of creating multifunctional spaces. These can be made out of bamboo mats and cane or jute material. Beanbags are available in colourful fabric-based material. Floor cushions are a great option to have as low seating. This does not clutter the room too much.
-LIPIKA SUD, interior designer, Lipika Sud Interiors