Pull It Off: 5 Ways to Create More Harmony in Double-Duty Rooms

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Some rooms feel busy and hectic. Unfocused and confusing. This unpleasant feeling can be the result of having a room that has multiple uses — like guest bedrooms that are also offices, living spaces that also have to be dining spaces, etc. You know, the sort of thing small space dwellers have to do. Do you have to be unhappy if you live in a small home where each room has to pull double-duty? Not at all. Here's how to create more harmony.

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"You might find some use in these tips designed to help streamline and clarify a space that has more than one function — to give it that peaceful, pleasant feeling. It's about using your space more efficiently and therefore enjoying your home more! You might find that implementing all of these ideas is helpful, or you might find that in your case, a couple of ideas work and some don't. Find the right combination for your home.

1. Decide on the room's primary function
This is tough (and in some cases, impossible) but important: What is the function that is the most important role a room needs to serve? How often will the room be used in each way? Really take a look at how you will be using the space time-wise. I've seen plenty of homes that have rooms with giant beds for guests, tiny desks for what they really use it for and 70% of the room gets dusty most of the year. If you're a frequent over-night guest host and can drag a laptop anywhere to work, your extra room's primary function should be as a guest room with a small surface for working that also doubles as storage. But if you only have overnight guests once a year but really need a dedicated space where your creativity can flourish — think of yourself first!

2. Disguise the room's secondary function furnishings
Once you've decided your room's primary function, buy or DIY furnishings for your secondary function that are disguisable. Like going for a stylish sleeper sofa or daybed as seating in an office that can be converted to a comfortable bed when guests arrive. We loved this desk and dresser combination. In the top photo in this post, a tiny secretary desk takes up a corner of the living room area in a studio space, allowing the "office" to be closed up when entertaining.

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3. Do you need it?
Sometimes dual-function rooms, extra rooms especially, get the leftover furniture. The furniture you didn't really have a place for so you stuck it in there, using it in a different way than was intended. That can be great and inventive sometimes! But sometimes it makes more sense to sell what you have to make room for what you could use the most. Answer honestly: Do you need every piece of furniture in your dual-function room?

4. Organization is more vital than ever
Having an organized closet and storage is important in every room, all the time. But in rooms where many different functions are taking up space and storage, it's vital. You're going to want to implement as many space maximizing ideas as you can — to invest in lots of shelves and other organizing tricks to get every inch of storage out of not just your closets but also your drawers, cabinets, credenzas and more.

5. Let your focal point set the tone
People think that only living rooms need to really worry about a focal point (TV or fireplace) but that's not true. Any room can benefit from the clarifying effects of a focal point, and a room with multiple purposes is no different. Revisit your primary function again — and choose an appropriate focal point for that function, letting the other furnishings fall in line and complement that item.

More ideas for dual-purpose rooms:
Room Inspiration: Shared Office & Guest Rooms
A Designer's Own Guest Room/Office Makeover
Tips For Creating a Guest Room That Also Works As a Home Office

Do you have a room in your house that has to pull double-duty? What design tricks have you used to cope? Let us know!

(Image credits: Modified from a photo taken by Liana Hayles for: Jackie's Colorful Upper East Side Home ; Audra Canfield Interiors & Designer Fluff; Sarah Ehlinger)

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Adrienne photographs beautiful homes in and around her home base of Austin, Texas. She's a contributor to UPPERCASE Magazine and spends all her free time exploring small town Texas. She watches a lot of Star Trek.