So you’ve moved into a new house, and there’s one room you’ve avoided decorating because you aren’t sure what to do with it. Or maybe your kid has flown the nest, gone off to college, and insists they don’t need their old bedroom anymore.
While having more space is usually a good thing, it can be overwhelming to sort out precisely what to do with an extra room in the house. Do you go for the classic guest bedroom or turn it into the home gym you’ve always dreamed of?
Below, you’ll find several ideas for a spare room, from classic use cases to creative options that undoubtedly make you ‘the friend with the cool home.’
Pick any one that suits your style and preferences—or use these as inspiration for your own ideas of what to turn your spare room into.
1. The Classic Guest Bedroom
If you decide to stick with a classic guest bedroom because you often have guests over—or your empty nesters like to visit—you can still have fun with the decor and get it looking its best.
So, how do you style a spare bedroom?
Start With a Theme
If you’re really into decorating, you can pick a theme for the bedroom. Your theme could be as simple as color and accent choices that keep everything aligned, or it could be something entirely creative.
Do you have young relatives who often stay the night? Pick something magical, like a wizard or zoo theme. You can use animal wallpaper, paint a mural, or even place stuffed toys around the room.
Of course, if you don’t have young guests, you might want your theme to be a little more mature. There are still plenty of appropriate options, from a bohemian theme to a relaxing, beachy escape. Have fun with it!
Use art on the walls and bed covers to shape the vibe, and then get some decor to match.
Although some people are perfectly happy living out of their suitcases, not everyone is. They might want to unpack their clothes, which can be challenging when space is limited.
Providing an ottoman at the end of the bed, bedside tables that function as dressers, and some hanging space can allow your guests to truly make themselves at home.
A Guest Book
If you want to have a little fun, consider leaving a guest book in the room. Airbnb hosts often use guest books to get feedback from guests, but you can steal the idea for your family and friends to leave cute notes for you to find.
A guest book doesn’t have to be a traditional book; you can also leave a whiteboard on the wall for others to scribble on. The best part of using a whiteboard is that you can wipe it clean every time new guests come over—handy if they’re writing secrets or inside jokes!
A Stocked Mini-Fridge
While a mini-fridge may seem extra luxurious, you can get one for less than $100, and it can make a world of difference to your guests. Stock it with water, sodas, iced coffees, or whatever your guests’ preferences are.
When they wake up in the morning, they won’t have to wander far to get their hydration or caffeine boost. This is a game-changer for people who can’t function before their morning coffee.
Create a Reading Nook
Consider adding a reading nook in the corner of the room to create a relaxing space. All it takes is an armchair and a few books to help guests wind down before bed. Be sure to hang a reading light above the chair so they don’t strain their eyes.
The best part of this tip is that you can also use it when you don’t have guests over and need some time for yourself.
Include a Pet Corner
If you occasionally have guests with a dog, a pet corner might be the homey touch that sends them over the moon. Put a dog bed there and, if appropriate or necessary, include some potty pads and a bag of dog treats. (Just make sure they’re out of reach of the dog themselves!)
This caring touch will let them feel that their fur baby is welcome here.
Different Lighting Options
A simple and subtle addition that will help make you the best host of all time is to provide a choice when it comes to lighting. Some visitors prefer bright overhead lights, and others find a dim glow more comforting. At the very least, include a lamp for when guests only want a little bit of light.
Natural lighting is also an excellent option, but consider blackout curtains for those who want to sleep in.
2. A Productive Home Office
Another common choice for spare bedrooms is the home office. With remote workers making up 26% of the population and increasing, many of us now need a space to be productive and work in peace.
And even if you drive to work, a home office can still be the perfect place to focus on your side hustle, file taxes, or sneak in some reading time.
But, if you’ve never had a home office before, you might be wondering how to turn it into a great space.
Consider a Standing Desk
When we picture desks, we usually picture sitting at them. But recently, standing desks have become popular. They convert from sitting height to standing height, so when you get restless or feel like you’ve been sitting down for too long, you can change position—doing great things for your blood flow and posture at the same time.
The best parts of a standing desk are its flexibility, how quickly and easily you can adjust it, and how much better it is for your physical well-being.
Get Some Plants
Being inside all day can drag us down, and it’s easy to forget to take the time to go outside when we can. You can mimic the experience of being around fresh air and greenery by bringing some plants into your office. If you’re not the best plant caretaker, there are plenty of options that require little maintenance.
Important: If you have pets, be careful. Many plants are toxic, and you should do your research to make sure the ones you bring into your home are pet-friendly.
Add a Dog Bed or Cat Tree
Speaking of pets, they love to be near us, even when it’s inconvenient. Cats love to perch on the desk during Zoom meetings, and dogs love to find the most awkward place to lie down and fall asleep. Having a cat tree or a dog bed in the room can help give them their own space to feel close to you without interrupting.
Include a Small Sofa
Although you have your desk to sit and work at, there may be times when you want a more comfortable spot but also don’t want to leave the room. Outside the office, it might be noisier, and you risk being interrupted by family or roommates.
Why not add a sofa to your office instead? When the desk feels too stiff, you can lounge there with your laptop.
Keep Inspiration in Sight
What inspires you? It might be pictures of your family. It might be great artwork. It might be having a view of the outdoors. It might even be a collection of great books that have taught you a lot.
Whatever it is, making sure you have inspiration in your office can help you work. If you’re in a plain environment with no personal touch, you might be surprised at how unmotivated you are.
While decorating, don’t forget to make use of shelves. You can also hang signs or chalkboards with quotes that remind you about why you love what you do.
Have A Notepad and Pen Handy
However much of a digital person you are, sometimes it’s better to quickly jot something down on paper—whether that’s during a meeting or because your device has run out of charge and you need to remember something quickly. Notepads and pens don’t cost much, and having them on your desk means you can quickly write down the great ideas that spring into your head during the day.
3. A Library
Love to read? A spare room is an excellent opportunity to create your very own library. Rather than just having a reading nook in the corner, you can create a cozy spot to settle down and build shelves all over the room to fill with the books you love.
Although many people have moved to e-readers and prefer digital copies of books, you’ll love this extra room idea if you know technology can’t beat the smell and feel of a paper copy in your hands. This is also a great opportunity to show off the collection you may have built before e-readers were available.
4. A Home Gym
The hardest part of working out is motivating yourself to get started. That’s furthered by the time it takes to get to the gym, especially if you work full-time.
Now that you have a spare room, you can buy some workout equipment and create a home gym dedicated to keeping your fitness up. The best part about this is that you can work out whenever you want without worrying that someone else will be using the equipment you want.
5. A Home Theater
More of a film fanatic than a gym rat? You can create your very own movie theater! Choose a projector or a large television, set up some great seating, and go. For seating, try a couch, beanbags, or take the cheap way out with a floor of pillows.
You can even stock the room with snacks and add a popcorn machine if you want to go all out.
Love hosting movie nights or want a date night in? Everyone loves a home theater.
6. A Dressing Room
Is getting ready your favorite part of going out? If it wasn’t, it would be now.
Dedicate your spare room as a dressing room by hanging up all of your clothes and adding a vanity, shoe rack, and full-length mirror to model in front of. There is no need to have a walk-in closet in the main bedroom to have room for all of your things.
You can even add a screen to get changed behind.
7. A Playroom
Do you have kids or grandkids? A playroom may be just what you need. Set up a tea party station, a fake kitchen, and a toy bin. If the kids are a little older, you could even buy a television with a game console.
Make sure everything in the room is safe for children if you plan to leave them unattended, and as long as they have plenty to occupy them, they’ll love coming here.
8. A Game Room
Maybe it’s not kids you’re trying to keep entertained, but adults. Well, who says adults can’t have a playroom too?
You can still include game consoles in this one, but you might want to change the tea party station and the stuffed animals. Instead, opt for good old-fashioned arcade machines and set up a table in the corner for board games.
If you love Dungeons & Dragons or want a space to play beat-em-up games to destress after work, look no further on what to do with your spare bedroom.
9. A Studio
If you’re crafty, have you considered a home studio? You might love to paint. You might have a 3D printer and love to create models. You might love to sew. You might like spending hours making short claymation films.
Regardless of your artsy passion, a studio where you can lose yourself and focus on your creative flow is the perfect place to hone your craft and enjoy what you do. Dedicating a space to this means there’s always a place to go to engage in your hobby and store the things you collect for it.
10. A Pet Room
Never mind having a small space for guests’ pets in the guest bedroom—how about your fur babies’ very own bedroom? This is among our favorite ideas for small spare rooms.
If you have a dog, you can set up a puppy-proofed room for them to enjoy with their bed, crate, and lots of toys. Remember never to leave your dog alone unsupervised with chews, as they could break a piece off and choke. Everything in there should be safe!
If you have cats, you can dedicate this room to them as well. Create a cat run along the wall, with shelves for them to explore and cat trees to jump on. This is also a great way to keep their litter boxes (and litter box smell) away from the rest of the house.
Pro Tip: If you also feed your cats in this room, keep the bowls away from the litter boxes as cats are fussy, clean creatures who like to separate the two. (Understandably.)
11. A Dining Room
A lot of newer homes don’t come with a dedicated dining room. Many people have transitioned to casual dining, so there isn’t always a need for one.
However, some still love to host dinner parties and have a place for guests to sit and chat. If that’s you, a dining area may be great for your extra room.
It can also be inexpensive to curate the pieces required for one. You can find some awesome dining tables online and at thrift stores that people no longer need, and some truly unique pieces will make the room pop.
12. A Bar
If you like to indulge in a beer or mixed drink on the weekends or regularly host events, why not turn the room into a bar? You can have a collection of beer, wine, and liquors on the shelves and get some cool bar stool seating for people to sit on. If you have the budget and want to go the extra mile, you can put things like a jukebox or pool table in the room.
You can also consider theming your bar. Go for a tiki theme if you want a relaxing oasis for your guests to hang out in.
13. Create a Meditation Space
If you love to meditate, having a dedicated space can make a world of difference. Meditation requires being able to clear your mind, and if you’re trying to do it amid a hectic household with kids and pets who always want something, it can be impossible to achieve the relaxation goal.
To bring this idea to life, add some plants, natural lighting, and a mat. And don’t forget to put a sign on the door reminding your roommates or family that no one is allowed to disturb you once you’re in here!
It’s one of the more minimalist empty room ideas but well worth it if it will make a difference to your life and mental health.
So, How Do You Choose Between These Spare Bedroom Ideas?
There’s no right or wrong answer regarding what to do with a spare room. Think about your tastes and what’s missing from your life that you could use.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, the home gym might be the perfect solution; if you’re a social butterfly who often has people over, consider creating an awesome spare bedroom with a mini-fridge and reading nook.
The great thing about these spare room ideas is that they’re adjustable to fit your budget, so sit down and make a plan. You can also talk to the others in your house and decide what makes the most sense for your living situation.
Regardless, having a spare room is exciting, and you can enjoy the process as much as the result.