Simple! How To Make Multi-Functional Space In Your Home
Our lifestyle has changed completely since the pandemic happened. Many of us are now working from home for the long term, including myself. Some who live with their family have been feeling stressed out from not having enough personal space at home; others living alone feel stressed out from not having enough social time with friends being stuck at home.
Because of this new lifestyle, people have started contacting me for ideas to adjust their home to create a multi-functional space where they can comfortably live with other family members and not feel suffocated in their homes. Ms. Kana Kamitsubo, a business owner, professional pianist and a wife and mother with a five year old son, is one of them.
Kana asked me to help create a “Multi-Functional Bedroom” where she could have a sleeping area, a recreation area for electric piano playing and a home office. She was inspired by visiting my apartment and seeing how I set up two home offices, one in the living room for my husband and one for myself in the bedroom. In addition to creating a work area to the bedroom, I also added recreation area there to play music, exercise and relax. (Image of our home offices) I will share more about it with images and video in the future once we complete it, but today I would like to share very simple tips about how we can make a multi-functional space easily and quickly without buying many new things.
Our Muti-Functional Living Room
1) Our Living room
2) My husband’s home office
3) Dining area
Our Muti-Functional Bedroom
1) Our Bedroom
2) My Home Office
3) Our Sleeping Space
4) Recreation space
While we were preparing for the project, Kana said to me one day, “I really feel stressed out from working on the dinner table every day. It is hard for me to change my mentality from family life mode to business mode, which drains my energy.”
I understood what she meant. If we work at home for long hours everyday, without any border between private life and professional life, our brains get confused and tired. Before the pandemic, she had “commute time” to get to her work place, in which she could be ready to switch her brain to work mode from private life mode. Now, she doesn’t.
Here are the tips I gave her to improve her remote work situation quickly. The first point is to let the dining table have two functions: a dining table where she enjoys meals with her family and a work desk where she can focus on her work.
1) Let the Dining Table Work As A Work Desk.
Originally, the rectangle dinning table with 4 chairs was located in the dining area in a way where 4 people can sit together. (Image A)
But I suggested that she move one side of the table to the wall after removing a chair so that she could sit facing to the window with her back towards the hallway/living room when she works, so that she can avoid seeing anyone in the house. Keeping four seats would leave the table feeling more like a dining table than a work desk. The reason why I had her leave more than one chair is so that Sasha, her husband and business partner, can sit next to her and they can use the table as a meeting table, with an extra chair in case she is watching her son. (Image B)
After I gave her my suggestion, she quickly sent me pictures with a message.
“Ai! This is just like magic. All I did was just relocate the dining table and changed my seating, but I feel totally different and can focus on my work more than before!"
If she has 3 meals with her family in the morning, afternoon and the evening, and each meal takes 40 min, the table is used as a dining table only for 120 min… which is only 1/12 of a day. On the other hand, if she works here remotely 8 hours or more, the table is used as a work desk for 1/4 of a day, 4 times longer hours than she uses the table for dining.
(Note: I would not suggest this type of table location if the space is used for only dining, because chi or energy do not flow smoothly when one side of the table is blocked with a wall, which Feng Shui suggests to avoid. But to save a space, and since there are only 3 people in the family, it is ok to keep this dinning table location like this, and change back to the original 4 seating set up when they have a guest.
2) A Tablecloth Can Make the Work Desk Get Back To Its Primary Role.
I suggested that she put a nice tablecloth or luncheon mats when she has meals with her family and when she is not working. This way, one table can have two functions, and she can also easily switch her mode from to family life to working mode, having a smooth mental transit while she is setting up the table for each purposes.
It would be better if she could add either of a folding divider, a noren curtain (a type of Japanese half-door curtain) or a sliding door between the dining area and the hallway (Image C). This is because in feng shui, we believe that our backs should be supported by a solid wall. (It’s called Command Position.) But to sit that way, she should face toward the kitchen and that would be distracting, so, in her case, it is better to face the window. In the future, however, she could place a divider or tall plant there, allowing her to open the divider when she eats with her family and close it when she works for privacy.
The most important things to consider when you create multi functional spaces in your home are:
1) Determine what purposes you want to use the space for. Home office in a dining room or a bedroom? Recreation space in a bedroom?
2) Figure out if there is currently any wasted space, which you do not really use effectively.
3) Decide whether you feel comfortable using a dividing system (folding room divider, curtains, plants, panels, etc?) or would prefer not dividing the space physically but dividing psychologically by changing your furniture locations, views, colors, etc.?
I think any home can have multi functional spaces, and I believe that’s what we need more now than ever, with so many people living, working and exercising at home.
I will provide updates as we make progress on Kana’s Multi-Functional Bedroom project in the coming weeks. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the concept!