Going spare: how to style unused rooms

Published: 14/02/2020

When it comes to putting your property on the market, there is no such room as a spare room.

To make the very most of your viewings, it’s wise to give every room a purpose; a reason to exist; an understandable function. So when getting your property ready for sale, it's important that every room feels used and useful, rather than neglected or, worst of all, useless.

Contemporary living gives us many inspiring ideas beyond the tired old options of box room, junk room, or occasionally my mother-in-law stays here, but, if you still have a room without a starring role, use our blog to give it a part to play.

Single isn't sad
Starting with smaller homes: a lot of one-and-a half-bedroom flats will find that a home office/guest room is genuinely the best use to give to the smaller bedroom. In fact, there are plenty of people out there who would love a one-bedroom flat with an extra space for a desk that doesn’t impinge on the living space or sleeping area: not everyone wants to pay for – or needs – two doubles. Most small bedrooms will comfortably take a single bed and a small desk, and the very presence of the desk with some life on it will instantly add warmth and appeal that a single bed on its own can lack.

The key here is to create the room as if you are going to use it, even if you're not. To give a sense of comfort and permanence, avoid the 1990s fashion of a foldable futon and opt instead for a proper sofa bed or even a day bed with a trundle beneath for an extra berth. Add a vintage or upcycled desk (rather than one from the used office supplies shop) and you have a demonstrably usable space that wows any viewers seeking a home workspace or guest room.

For the decor, why not paint a single wall with posh chalk or satin in an on-trend navy, blue-green or burgundy? With the correct styling, a small room can actually look far more stylish with a dark wall colour. Instead of pretending to be bigger, it becomes a sumptuous cave-den where big books can be read reclining on cushions among parlour palms, with the desk inviting thoughts of pen and paper: a luxury in these days of digital speed. As with any home study, papers are neat and vertically filed; plants are well cared for; cushions are fresh and plumped. And bingo! The former spare room is transformed into a haven for doing your tax returns that makes them (almost) a pleasure.  

Doubling up

If you have a full sized second bedroom that isn't in permanent use, the trick is to have that desk for YOU to use, but also to have a wonderfully dressed and loved looking proper bedroom - with a bed that makes you want to fling yourself on it, and personal touches that show it's enjoyed and part of the home.

An overly sparse second bedroom can be quite off-putting and bring down the mood of a viewing, so a proper wardrobe and decent bedding and curtains (not the old sets you were about to throw away) will show the room is fully fit for purpose.

Ask yourself: was this room overlooked when the rest of the home for restyled? If so, bring it up to date with the rest of the decor with a lavishing of love. It'll repay you well by helping you move!
Family fun time
Of course, not every unused room is a spare bedroom. Plenty of homes in Berkhamsted and Tring have a third or fourth reception room that can be hard to find a use for, but, depending on the interests of your household, there are plentiful options.

If you have children who love to make things (and make a mess!) a family crafting room is a brilliant option that can also keep the official family dining table clear of glue and gunk. Install a long table, chairs, functional flooring cover and upcycled cupboards for materials.

Another alternative is a dedicated kid's playroom. A child-height table, chairs, games, mini easels, a cosy reading corner… There are countless options for giving your children their own play space that not only gives them heaps of fun, but for which your feet will thank you for knowing that treading on Lego in the living room is now a thing of the past.

For older children and grown-ups, a games room can give the family an enticing and exciting space to spend time together to rival the allure of smartphones. If it’s computer games we’re talking then a big couch, a big screen and a console is really all you need and gives you the extra opportunity of family movie nights. Or you might plump for classic after-dinner diversions with a pool table, darts board or – gasp! – poker den.

For the budding Sheku Kanneh-Mason (2016’s BBC Young Musician of the Year, and Harry & Meghan’s wedding cellist in 2018), a music room to practice their instrument of choice will give them the space to hone their craft. For an entirely musical household, add a piano, music stands and a few performance chairs and you have the ultimate cultural corner for your own family band.

Self, soul and solitude
Making the time for ourselves and our soul is hugely important with the busy schedules of modern life, so why not create a space for personal fulfilment? Wellbeing and fitness go perfectly well together a room could easily double for both.

For wellbeing, a space for yoga, Pilates or meditation is simple to create and a delightful private sanctuary. All you need is a yoga mat, some floor cushions and perhaps a meditation bell, dressed with plants (in groups of three, remember?) and you have space away from the distractions of the home.

For the fitness freak, a home gym is a luxury that many aspire to and saves you wobbling on a Swiss ball while the family try to watch Netflix. And they’ll certainly have no problem with you taking your iron-pumping grunts to another room. That’s a win for everyone!

Personal creativity is another part of life worth cultivating and a sewing room with a big cutting out table and storage is another way to show how great it is to have all that space and why it's worth someone paying for it: seeing one person’s creativity fulfilled often fuels ideas in others.

Finally, vinyl junkies. Any purists out there for whom only high-end hi-fi separates and tall floor-standing speakers in finest teak will do, a room devoted to their alphabetically-filed record collection and private listening pleasure would make an irresistible draw. Imagine a chic Eames leather chair; a side table to lay headphones and accompanying single malt; and stylish artwork to complete the look. Framed album covers would work a treat here.

In the end, selling a property is all about appealing to the people most likely to buy it. So whatever type of home you have, take a little time to think about the people you want to attract, and give any spare room a purpose that will pull those buyers in. And if you have a property in Berkhamsted or Tring and would like to optimise the role of any unused rooms you have, our teams would love to help you.

Tring office: 01442 820420
Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000