Go to YOUR Room! 5 Ways to put that spare space to work for you

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It's a luxury any of us would love to be burdened with: a spare room. If you've recently stumbled upon a little extra real estate in your home because your kids have moved out or your partner went back to a full time job, why not create the room of your dreams? Or, as Virginia Woolf once famously called it, a room of one's own.

What we are proposing is a space that truly reflects your interests; a place where you can get away, express yourself, or devote yourself to your hobby. Looking for inspiration? Check out these ideas:

  1. A Home Theatre
    Tired of hustling to the local multi-plex just to stand in line for overpriced snacks? Then don't! Nowadays there is a ton of professional-grade audio and video equipment available to the average consumer. High-definition televisions, surround sound speakers and extra-large flat screens can be purchased anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

    How high-tech and sophisticated your theatre is depends on how much you want to spend, but it is possible to get the movie experience without having to take out a second mortgage. Set a budget, then shop around. Most importantly visit the stores in person to select the look, sound, and features that matter to you. Once you've figured it out, then shop around, both online and at local retailers. Find a great price online but want the service and security of a local retailer? Ask the store to match the online price--or at least come close. Do the math including the final price of delivery to get the best deal.

    The same rule applies to furniture: professional theater seating is available starting at a couple of hundred dollars. Of course, you can always stick with a comfy couch or reclining chairs. However, look into websites such as www.hometheaterseating.com if you are going for authenticity. Their selection includes seating in all price ranges, colors, and textures.

    The decor is the fun part of this project: the possibilities are endless. Try a theme based on your favorite flick or movie star. If this seems a little to labor intensive (or unusual) you can always pick up movie posters online and have them framed. And don't forget the popcorn popper!

  2. A Gym
    Are you trying to get into shape but always finding excuses not to go to the gym? Or maybe you are already a gym rat but are dissatisfied with equipment, facilities or crowds. Either way, a home gym is a fantastic investment in your most important asset: your health.

    Following proper form is absolutely critical to an efficient and injury-free workout, so consider covering one wall with a mirror. If this isn't feasible, try to get your hands on the largest mirror you can find. It may seem tacky, but besides helping you get in shape, it will make the room look larger.

    As far as equipment goes, if you are thinking about going for the all-in-one system, beware. They tend to lose their value as soon as they are delivered, and therefore won't fetch much on resale. While it's tempting to plunk hundreds dollars for a product that claims to do everything, it's more important that you actually use the system. Make sure the set is sturdy, works a number of different muscle groups and is easy to operate. (Testing out the equipment at the store is a good idea to help you discover the equipment that works for you.)

    For workout novices, start with a balance ball, free weights and resistance bands coupled with a couple of instructional DVDs. All of this equipment can be picked up for less than $100, and will help you to figure out what routines you like, and can stick with. A TV and DVD player should definitely be part of your equipment, both for playing workout discs and providing entertainment while you work.

  3. A Craft Room
    Sewing, scrapbooking, pottery, painting, collecting and quilting are hobbies that require a little extra space. Dedicating a room to something you love is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It will keep your hobby (and its supplies) from spreading all over the house, serve as a motivating force, and foster your creativity.

    What you need to make your room workable depends on your hobby, and you are the expert on that. We can say with confidence that ample lighting will be critical, so make sure your fixtures are up to par. Try to maximize natural light by minimizing any heavy drapery or blinds. Also think about storage and the best way to organize your materials. Invest in shelving and containers to keep your supplies readily available when needed.

    Because this room is going to be a place you love to be, make it entirely your own. Paint it your favorite color, invest in top-notch equipment, and decorate the room with things that inspire you. Don't forget: leave enough room to display some of your best handiwork.

  4. A Revitalizing Retreat

    Every busy Jane could use a little more down time, and a room dedicated to revitalizing your spirit and body could be just what you need to find peace of mind.

    At-home saunas are quickly gaining popularity and there are a variety to choose from: portable kits you install yourself or designer saunas. Before you hand over your credit card, it's important to check with your city's local codes, as restrictions on saunas may apply.

    If steaming your worries away isn't really your style, consider making the room into your own personal retreat that you escape to after a long day. The room can even have another function (such as a spare bedroom), but can double as a private getaway when you need it to. Consider adding dimmable lighting, ambient music, and calming fragrances, as all can help sooth the senses and help you to unwind and let go.

  5. Gift Wrap Room
    Some of us really love to give gifts and we are very particular about wrapping them. If you believe that giving is far more fun than receiving, then you may have a Christmas list that's a mile long and a year-long habit of remembering everyone's birthday. So, if you really enjoy wrapping gifts and your closets are overflowing with tubes of wrapping paper and ribbons, then celebrate your spirit with a room dedicated to gift giving. Get yourself a large worktable so you can cut paper and handle those oversized presents. Hang curtain rods on the wall to string ribbons. Find an antique post card rack that turns to store your greeting cards. Add a CD player to listen to your favorite music and you have a room that is functional and fun at the same time.

If you find yourself with a spare room on your hands, why not devote it to your hobbies, needs, or obsession? If none of these ideas speak to you, we've also heard of rooms transformed into recording studios, karaoke dens, shrines to beloved saints, and even a room dedicated solely to housing snakes. Regardless of what it is that makes you tick, celebrating it is a great way to do something for yourself.

See also:
"I'd like to convert my spare room into a master closet"
Give your Pet Some Space
10 Tips for Winning the Closet War

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