Driving me spare! The perils of choosing a use for a spare room…

Posted: 22 June 2015


Spare Room L.jpg

Most decisions we have to make in our daily lives are, let's be honest, quite trivial and the decisions rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Should we see the new Avengers film, or that other one? Do we have beer or wine with dinner? Wait, what are we going to have for dinner?

But then there are certain decisions which, if you make the wrong choice, could have disastrous consequences. Should we move in together? Do I cut the green wire, or the blue wire? Well that last one was borrowed from my big book of movie clichés, but you get the picture.

My partner and I recently faced such a potentially life-changing decision in what to do with the spare room. You may chuckle, but this particular question was the cause of quite a few heated "discussions"! She bought her first home last year and we decided to take the plunge and move in together, which is where our spare room troubles started.

Spare room or storage room?

The property in question is a modest two bedroom flat in a converted Victorian semi, and whilst it isn't exactly small we don't have masses of space to play with. Neither of us realised how significant this fact was until we moved my stuff in. 18 years as a committed bachelor, combined with an inability to throw anything way, meant that I came with a serious amount of baggage. Literally!

Moving day was really exciting and significant for both of us and started full of excitement and joy. This slowly disappeared throughout the day as we spent the next 15 hour or so packing up and loading the moving van, to be replaced with misery, despair, and sheer exhaustion. So much so that when we got to our new home we were so fed up that we just dumped all my junk in the spare room, closed the door, and just forgot about it. In hindsight this would have been the perfect time to have arranged some temporary storage as the boxes reached from floor to ceiling, and wall to wall. We couldn't even get into the room.

It wasn't until a few months later (yes months!) that we decided to tackle the horror that we had dubbed the 'storage room'. Quite a lot of ideas went back and forth, along with a few raised voices and some choice expletives. But what to do with it?

Possible ideas

"We should turn it into a second bedroom, a comfortable place for friends to stay" (or one of us when the other's snoring is a bit too loud?) "It is a second bedroom after all."

"It's slightly too small to be a comfortable bedroom. How about a study?"

"Hmm!?"

"We could put a computer desk in the bay window, some bookshelves against the wall, filing cabinet in the corner. And how about some pot plants for a bit of colour?"

"Yeah, that's a nice idea…but where are people going to sleep?"

Ultimately the only limit on what to do with the room is your own imagination, oh and space of course. The two chief limiting factors are imagination and space. And cost. The three main limiting factors are imagination, space, and cost. We thought about turning it into a spare bedroom, a library, a games room (both real and virtual), even a storage room. Though this last one did seem like a bit of a waste of space. We even toyed with the idea of turning it into a walk-in wardrobe, racks for hanging clothes, cleverly constructed shelves to make the most of the space, a selection of different sized mirrors on various walls. Whilst this idea would have been amazing neither of us is exactly a fashionista so again it was vetoed.

On and on the debating went with each proceeding suggestion becoming more grandiose and soundly rejected.

"Gym?"

"No!"

"Sauna?"

"No."

"Walk-in aquarium?"

"No!"

"Swimming pool?"

"NO! NO! NO!"

Then one day whilst I was looking through the mountain of boxes for something inspiration struck. I was home alone, bored, and fed up to the back teeth of the carnage before me. I would turn the spare room into my very own Batcave! It would be my oasis, a hideaway from the rest of the world and somewhere to escape from my partner from time to time!

Constructing the Batcave

I began by clearing the boxes, organising things into piles to be further organised into sub-piles and further sub-piles of sub-piles. Once the room was cleared, and starting with the big stuff, I began filling it up again but this time I would be selective and try to make the most of the space.

The filing cabinet went into the furthest corner of the room out of the way. Next to that a comfortable futon, couch by day, couch by night, occasionally pulling out into a comfortable bed when needed. Slim, narrow bookshelves went against the walls along with a small chest of drawers with a mini Hi-Fi on top of it. Next came the TV placed on a wooden storage box full of things I couldn't find a home for, on one side of the bay window. The PS3 went underneath that, all hooked up to the home network via a network plug using the home wiring so that I could access the network and the internet. A few pictures went up on the walls, along with a mirror. It was coming along quite nicely, but there was something missing. On one wall behind the TV I hung up a string of white fairy lights, some wrapped around the mirror, and against the other wall went a string of lights with small Chinese lantern shades on each bulb.

My masterpiece was complete, I had done it. I had transformed an overcrowded storeroom/dump into a room that was cosy and comfortable, with a choice of lighting options to suit my mood and my activities. It was lovely, and when my partner came home and saw what I had done she was dumbstruck, she absolutely loved it! So much so that my hideaway, my Batcave, was now her favourite room in the house. The room that I had intended to be my escape was now a warm and inviting environment that we both enjoyed using together and that we went on to christen "The Snug". It was somewhere we could both sit and read a book, or leaf through my collection of graphic novels, relax with a film or catch up on some episodes on i-Player, or even spend an evening killing space zombies in some far off galaxy. We even invested in some wireless headphones so that I could enjoy that last activity without driving my partner out of the room. Importantly though, it was now somewhere that guests could stay in comfort and be thoroughly entertained at the same time.

We had taken a fairly unremarkable space and turned it into a room that could be used for any number of things. It was a spare bedroom, a games room, a library, a study, and most importantly a room we could share together.

What will you do with your spare room?

So whatever you're thinking of doing with yours try to make the most of the space. There are lots of rather clever and inventive storage solutions out there if space is at a premium during home renovations. Temporary or long-term storage can help here, and you've always got the option of moving things in and out as you change your mind about its uses. Remember that it can be used for many purposes and not simply for sleeping or storage. But whatever you do with it remember that unless you live alone you're going to have to share it at some point, so try to ensure that everyone can call a small corner their own. I still call it my 'Batcave' to myself at times, but in reality it's our 'snug' and I couldn't be happier with that.

 

Check out our other articles which will help you in the lead up the deciding what to do with your spare room - spring cleaning is a must do!


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