Reader SOS – Designing an Extra Room

We are back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space!”. You guys have been emailing us about your Reader SOS and we’ve been able to get a little glimpse into some of the design problems you’re having when it comes to decorating. Our plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer tips & tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some old design problems we’ve solved during this series…

DIY Playbook save our space design dilemma series. Last time we did a Reader SOS, we took more room submissions from you guys. Thank you for sending in your design problems…we loved reading through all of them. Even if yours wasn’t chosen today, that doesn’t mean that we won’t tackle it in the future. So keep ’em coming!

What do I do with my extra room?

Today’s design dilemma comes from Lisa who just moved into a new home last year. She is having trouble with what she calls her “flex room”, an extra space that doesn’t have a main function just yet. What to do with an extra room in your house.

She says, “I feel this room has great potential as a hardworking and welcoming space, but I need help putting it together. The flex room is at the front of the house, right off the porch and front stairwell. Some people in our subdivision use this flex room as a formal dining room, formal living room, or playroom. But none of these uses real ring true for us.” An extra room in the beginning of your home near the front doorway

Lisa wants to turn this into an office and mudroom space, while still keeping it stylish and uncluttered. Overall her main goal is to make this a good looking room (since guests see it right when they walk inside), that functions well for her family (you’ll notice her 15-month-old cutie in the photo above!). Blank stairwell space could be used as a mudroom

Our Ideas for Lisa’s Extra Room

After reviewing the photos and Lisa’s wants for the space, we got to work looking for ideas and inspiration. Here are some of our thoughts…

Stylish Office

We like the idea of adding a floating desk (looking toward the stairs) to add functionality and a lot of storage behind the desk on that long wall. Because the room is so large, she could even use a small dining room table as a desk in the space (like this one!)

Emily Clark's office with built-in bookcases on the wall

Photo via Emily A. Clark

We adore this space by our friend Emily. We’d suggest that Lisa add a big wall of bookshelves behind the floating desk, but perhaps she could make the bottom portion all cabinets to conceal items and have lots of secret storage.

Thrifty Decor Chick's built-in library space

Photo via Thrifty Decor Chick

We also like the look of this built-in from Thrifty Decor Chick with the lights, shelves, and cabinets. The two floating armchairs in front could work well too if Lisa didn’t want to put a floating desk in the middle of the room. Young House Love's office space in the front of their home

Photo via Young House Love

John & Sherry from Young House Love have a similar room off the front of their house. Right when you enter their home, you’ll find this open office space. We love that it’s functional for their working family, but doesn’t look too messy. An extra room is turned into an office in Young House Love's home tour

Photo via Young House Love

The bookcases, with the desk in the middle, could definitely work for Lisa’s space if she wants to make her flex room a hardworking office!

All in all, if Lisa does decide to go with an office space we would stress that secret storage is key in order to keep things looking tidy and uncluttered. Large bookcases (like these) or built-ins would be a must (especially ones with cabinets), and it would be essential to maintain organization in this visible spot.

“Mudroom” Wall

Empty wall space in this extra room

Lisa also mentioned wanting a drop zone area for coats, shoes, diaper bags, etc. This blank wall with the bench could be the perfect spot to corral all of these items. Entryway bench and stairwell from Room and Board

Photo via Room & Board

We love the vibes of the photo above (from a Room & Board catalog). The bench, rug, and frames going up the stairs really add a lot to the space. But it sounds like Lisa needs a bit more functionality in her house.How to make a mudroom space from Designing Vibes

Photo via Designing Vibes

We like what’s going on in this mini mudroom from Designing Vibes. The built-in bench with wicker baskets for storage, the hooks for coats/hats, and the picture ledge up top…all great ideas that could be implemented into Lisa’s space.

Again, it would be crucial to constantly maintain this space and not over pile it with coats/shoes in order to keep this area of the home looking good!

Accessories to Bring it Home

Empty extra room for reader sos series

Once Lisa gets the big projects figured out for this space, we suggest adding some key accessories for depth, texture, and comfort. The floors in her home are stunning, but a room like this does need a big rug to make things cozier. We’d suggest a 9×12 or even 10×14.

This rug that Bridget used in her new dining room is gorgeous and reasonably priced (only $156 for a 9×12!!!), so it could work for this large room. 

The front windows could benefit from new curtains that go really high & wide on the windows. That would draw the eye up and make this a gorgeous focal point in the room. For more tips on hanging curtains, check out this rookie mistake post.

A large floor lamp, some table lamps, and an armchair could also add a lot of warmth to this space.

So what do you guys think? What would you do with an extra room like this in your house? We’re hoping Lisa gets some inspiration from this post and from all of your comments…so feel free to share your ideas!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.