The Bonus Room: A “Hot Button” in Architectural Design
The “enticingly titled bonus room” – once offered as a creative solution to all the noise and activities in an open floor plan, including the blaring music of teenagers - has evolved into one of the hot trends in architectural design. Usually a large room in a house, the bonus room can serve as a family room, a den, home office, play/recreation area, a hobby room, or whatever the homeowner can imagine.
Originally located on the bedroom floor, that extra room can now be built atop the garage, in the attic, or basement. The room’s size and design usually determine what it is best suited for in the overall look of the home.
This two-story, four-bedroom French home plan (#178-1059) features an interior that exudes a feeling of spaciousness with 9-foot ceilings in every room and 12-foot ceilings in the living room and master bedroom. The floor plan for the upper floor marks a space for a bonus room.
Even the earliest and simplest homes built in America featured an attic or basement. But, in the past, there was no “creative” use for those areas. They were largely for storage, additional household appliances, and for the washer/dryer.
When the trend toward open floor interiors and their unlimited potential took off, most homeowners looked at house plans that incorporated bonus rooms and multi-purpose spaces. And architectural/design firms accommodated their needs by including flex spaces in floor plans.
How can you use the extra space?
As lifestyles change, so does a family’s needs and “wish list.” And, the open plan with its “unobstructed, flowing space” continues to be attractive to home buyers even after two decades since it initially arrived on the scene (source: Architecture View: A House is a Home, New York Times, 1991).
A newly-married couple may designate open areas for a hobby room, home office, or a den. For growing families, these flexible spaces can be adjusted to accommodate additional bedrooms, a guest room nursery, or play areas.
Even “empty egg-nesters” find uses for bedrooms once occupied by their children. These old rooms may be remodeled/updated as guest or in-law suites; or redecorated as an arts and crafts/sewing/hobby room, a library, or media room. In the event young adults return to the family home, these rooms can be reshuffled for their use.
Three examples of a bonus-area-turned-traditional study/home office: this roomy flex space can be changed or updated depending on the needs of a family. Top: the bonus-room-turned-library (#115-1465) in this home has plenty of bookshelves with additional storage below. Bottom: a quiet room to work or just think (#106-1138).
Above: an impressive office for someone who needs plenty of space (floor plan #161-1030).
The basement has also seen a transformation over the years. No longer just a “dumping” ground or storage area, this space has been renovated as a family/television room, home office, and play room - while still serving as a laundry/utility area in some instances.
With just under 1,800 square feet of space, the three-bedroom ranch plan (#109-1086) delivers plenty of perks inside – including a Great Room, deck, screen porch with skylight, breakfast nook, kitchen, and family room.
Top: an open floor plan for entry hall and dining area leads to the amily room. Bottom: Check out the ample space bonus room which allows easy expansion. The bonus room is furnished as a study/home office. A basement option adds even more space to the home.
Another storage area that has seen some updating is the attic/loft. If the ceilings are high enough in that space and, if windows can be added – then, that room can be reconstructed as another bedroom, a study corner, a sitting or recreation room.
A very spacious loft (see below) is on the second story of this six-bedroom Craftsman home plan (#163-1047) along with two bedrooms and flexible space for multi-purpose use.
This loft allows for flex space for the family – from exercising to TV watching to board games.
Advantages of Bonus Rooms/Flex Space
In today’s environment, it is a smart decision to look for a house plan that includes flex space in the blueprints. Whether you’re eyeing a two-story five bedroom country home or a simple three-bedroom ranch, it’s important to consider designs with embedded bonus rooms.
Think of the advantages:
1. Flexibility to update your original idea for the bonus room
2. Ability to change and renovate according to family’s needs/desires
3. Room for expansion
4. Opportunity to stay in your current home for as long as you want
This two-story, four-bedroom Craftsman home design (top) comes with a lot of amenities, including the bonus room (middle) on the second level. Floor plan of the second level with bonus room above garage is shown at bottom. (See full floor plans, for plan #153-1781 here.)
So, whenever you’re ready for that house, think of all the possibilities… let your creativity and imagination run wild!
Footnote: the lead image of this article is of a finished upstairs bonus room in a 6-bedroom Traditional home (Plan #163-1047).