Designing and Building for Multifunctional Living

Our lives aren’t static but dynamic. Not every day brings the same routine. We may work from home during the week and then welcome overnight guests or entertain family on the weekends. Perhaps we don’t need a full office, but a place we can use occasionally to manage administrative tasks. Or we may need a space that can serve a dual function as a play area when the grandchildren come over. Depending on our individual needs, our home should optimally function to meet our unique lifestyle.

multifunctional living_expanding dining table

This kitchen island contains a hidden, pull-out table for extra seating when it’s needed.

When you think about it, the homes we love and invest so much in and love should really work for us in every aspect of our lives. The reality of New England living is that more often than not, we don’t have much discretionary space in our homes to allow us to dedicate space for a “sometime” need such as having family or guests over. The ability to serve different functions such as entertaining or accommodating overnight guests may seem like mission impossible. Or, we might have extra space such as a seldom-used living or dining room that doesn’t really serve us and could just “work better.”

There is a renewed focus on our homes and their ability to multitask. In recent years, we looked to our homes to work even harder to support the various aspects of our lives. Little wonder that designing and building for multifunctional living is a growing trend, and it’s one of our favorite types of projects. When you look at your space intentionally and think creatively, you may be surprised at just how flexible your living space can be.

Another way to think about designing for multifunctional living is creating “flex space.” For example, an office can flex into a bedroom or a loft area could serve double duty as a playroom and creative space. By maximizing the usable space and intelligently incorporating space-saving, multi-functional elements, your home can meet both your daily and occasional needs.

One perfect example of a larger project to reenvision living space is our complete renovation of a two-bedroom condominium in the city. Our clients live near extended family and wanted a space that worked for their daily lives but would flex to work for family visits. By redesigning the key spaces of the home to beautifully function for the couple’s living needs during the week and seamlessly transform on the weekends for entertaining or overnight guests, the entire space is maximized without compromising design or functionality.

multifunctional living_dog dishes drawer

Built-in dog dishes in this lower cabinet drawer slide out of view when the pup has finished their meal.

To walk through the modestly-sized condo on a typical day, all you see is beautifully conceived open living space for two with no hint of the home’s ability to transform itself. One way we accomplished this was to reimagine the secondary bedroom as a home office that easily converts into a well-appointed guest bedroom through a hidden Murphy bed with built-in storage closets. The question of where to seat extra dining guests was solved through a kitchen island that invisibly houses a semi-formal table that serves as an extension of the large island and can accommodate up to eight people.

Not all multi-functional redesigns are on such a large scale. We routinely look for opportunities to incorporate multi-functional elements into our projects. Consider one recent kitchen renovation that features built-in dog dishes in a lower kitchen cabinet drawer which the owner simply hides away when not in use.

There is space in every home that can be beautifully reimagined to accommodate multifunctional needs. Sometimes an outside perspective from our remodeling design and building experts can give you fresh insight into all the possibilities.