Oftentimes, apartment or rental home floor plans don’t always provide us with enough space to accommodate all of the living needs we have. Whether the problem is too few rooms or too small of rooms, rental home situations are often lacking. With that said, it’s important to know how to create multi-functional spaces in your home that provide you with all of the functional aspects you need! Previously, I’ve shared tips for creating a multi-functional combined living room and dining room and a combined office and play room. Today, I’m sharing ideas that I’ve used in several of my own rental homes to create a kid-friendly, multi-functional space in the heart of your home: the living room.
When you’ve got kids (whether they are your own or visiting family or friends!), it’s easy to feel like the kid clutter has taken over your living room. While it’s important for your kids to have a space to play, it’s also important for you to keep a piece of your living room for yourself and for your adult guests. At least a small corner, right?!
Over the past couple of years, my family has lived in three different homes where we have created a shared living room/play room space. Below, I share some of the ideas that we used, the before and after photos of each space and what we learned along the way as we created a multi-functional living room and play room space.
In our first home, we actually had a large living room space, but the room itself was an odd narrow, skinny rectangular shape.
My husband and I decided that the best way to work with this odd-shaped space was to divide the narrow room into a definitive “living space” for us and a definitive, separate “play space” for our infant son. On one side of the room, we set up a traditional living room lay out with a couch, coffee table, two slipper chairs and a television.
On the other side of our rectangular room, we laid down another area rug to define a separate space: the play area. The slipper chairs also acted as a divider in the middle of the room. On that side of the room, we had a swing, a pack-n-play crib and a bookshelf to hold books and toys.
It was really nice to have two big areas to utilize. By physically separating the two functions of the room, we were able to make use of the awkward rectangular room and create enough usable space for a living room and a play room.
In our last rental home, we were fortunate to have a living room with a more traditional square room layout. Although it was a square room, it was much smaller than our previous space, so our challenge became how to fit all of the baby toys and gear into the room with our living room furniture.
In this house, we took the “combined” approach and, instead of creating a separate play space, we simply incorporated our son’s play things into the room with our furniture.
As you can see, our little guy (who was about six months old at the time) didn’t have a lot of toys at this point, which made our task easier. We created a small space in the corner of the room for his swing, play mats and floor pillows. On the other side of the room, we filled a bookshelf with bins of toys and his books.
My family enjoyed this “combined approach” where we could enjoy our living room and play room at the same time. Once my son became mobile, it quickly became clear that the toys were going to go wherever he wanted them to go, anyways!
In our current rental home, my family has encountered a couple of roadblocks in creating a multi-functional living room and play room space.
The first issue is that we’ve got a pretty tiny space for a living room. Luckily, our main living area (including our living room, breakfast room and kitchen) is a large open-concept plan. But our actual living room is pretty tight once you get a couple of pieces of large furniture in the room. Not a lot of space for two different functional rooms like a living room and a play room!
We have learned that the key to designing this small multi-functional space has been to make every single item count. The television cabinet also stores electronics and other items that need to be tucked away from our son. The decorative tray on the coffee table is not only pretty, but it corrals junk off of the table and can be swiped up and put away if our little guy needs more play space. The baskets on the fireplace mantel are decorative, but also hold (LOTS!) of toys. The bookshelf is home to not only our books, but more toys and books for my son. Everything in this small room has a function and we are sure to be as effective as possible with the space!
The second large hurdle we’ve had to face in designing this multi-functional room lies with the fact that not only do we need to accommodate my toddler son’s toys, but we will soon have an infant using this room as well! I am pregnant with our second little one, so creating a space for this baby (and her toys, baby gear, etc.) has become a priority, too.
We recently rearranged some of the furniture in our living room to create a space for the new baby’s gear. Previously, we had two slipper chairs each flanking either side of our television. We simply moved the chairs together in one corner- I actually draped a blanket over the middle of the chairs to create a quasi-unified look for the piece- and we set up the baby’s swing in the other corner. The swing unfortunately covers up some of the bookshelf, but it’s the best set up we could figure out for this room. When creating a multi-functional space, you have to work your best with what you’ve got! We’ll also bring in more baskets and bins to hold the new baby’s rattles and other toys.
As I mentioned before, it’s important to know how to create multi-functional spaces in your home that provide you with all of the functional aspects you need. Hopefully the ideas my family used in some of our homes to create a multi-functional living room and play room space will inspire you to design the best room for you!