But, more often than not, home is all of these things and more. This is exactly why the idea of ‘multifunctional space’ is getting more attention than ever.
Today, our homes aren’t just one thing – they’re spaces that need to play lots of different roles.
Here, we’re going to explore some of those different roles in detail – looking at different jobs we need our homes to do, and how our shutter design teams are helping people unlock this potential.
Multifunctional living space is one of those ‘easier said than done’ ideas.
Unless you have extremely large rooms or a desire to move your furniture every few hours, you could easily end up with overcrowded spaces that don’t really fulfil any specific need especially well.
So, what can you do to make multifunctional spaces practical and attractive?
Open plan to closed plan
In the past, the idea of ‘open plan’ and ‘closed plan’ was impossible in one space – you chose which one you wanted then and configured interior walls accordingly.
Today though, this has changed.
In modern homes, hybrid spaces are increasingly common – and interior shutters are a practical and cost-effective way to make it possible.
When most people think of shutters, they think of stylish window coverings – but shutters are much more versatile than they might first appear.
Increasingly, people are using track-mounted shutters to create room dividers – giving the option of opening or partitioning a room in a matter of seconds.
The possibilities that room divider shutters create are almost endless. Maybe you’d like a large open plan lounge, dining, and kitchen area that’s perfect for entertaining at the weekend – but that can be closed down during the week to keep things neat and tidy?
Maybe you’ve always daydreamed about a luxury hotel suite idea where a freestanding bath in a large decadent bedroom – but prefer the idea of some privacy when the house is a little busier?
From practical ideas that keep muddy pets out of certain spaces – right through to ideas that indulge your ideas of home as a place of ultimate relaxation, opening and closing the space you have lets your imagination come to life.
Light probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you’re considering how to create a multi-functional space – but it’s an essential element that makes a huge difference to the way a multi-use room can feel.
When you picture a dedicated kids’ play area in a room, you probably don’t think of somewhere that’s dull or needs lots of bright artificial light.
Likewise, if you imagine relaxing in a bath after a long day of getting things done, you’re probably not picturing direct sunlight shining in your eyes.
Light is a vitally important part of creating the right kind of ambience in a room – but it becomes very difficult to get right in rooms that have multiple functions.
This makes finding the right window coverings absolutely essential if you want to create rooms that have the right ‘feel’ as they switch uses.
How can shutters help you control the light in multifunctional rooms?
Naturally, we’re biased when it comes to window coverings – but light control is almost always a factor when people talk to our designers about creating shutters for multifunctional spaces in their homes.
More often than not, people find that curtains just don’t have the flexibility that they need – after all, they’re generally either open or shut.
With fabric blinds, there’s a little more flexibility, but light control is still limited – and they definitely don’t work as room dividers.
This is where shutters can be used to completely transform how the light works in a multifunctional space.
The louvres in wooden shutters can be angled to allow the exact level and kind of light you want into your room.
Want to let the light flood in while you have a coffee and wake up?
No problem – you can open the louvres completely or open your shutters on their hinges for the maximum amount of light.
Then again, if you’re keen to turn the light level down and have a little privacy while you eat an evening meal or put your feet up, you can close those louvres completely.
Not quite ready to shut the world out completely? Again, no problem – just angle the slats so that passers-by can’t see in, and you can still enjoy the sun as it dips behind the horizon.
Whether you want the feeling of openness and life that floods in when shutters are open – or you’d like to close the world out and get ready for bed, the very same shutters cover all bases.
If you’ve spent any time on social media or browsing shows on streaming services, you’ll no doubt have come across the Mrs Hinchs and Marie Kondos of the world – ultra-successful personalities whose brands are built on cleanliness, tidiness and organisation.
Sure, there are plenty of people who say a bit of untidiness is healthy – but according to a study carried out in Europe by IKEA, we’ll spend around 5,000 hours in our lifetimes searching for lost items.
As if that colossal amount of wasted time isn’t enough – if you’ve ever spent more than 15 minutes looking for your purse, passport, or your last gas bill, you’ll probably appreciate the serenity that comes from having a tidy living space.
At the heart of a tidy home is storage – and when you’re working with a multifunctional space, clever and effective storage is more important than ever.
How can shutters be used to create storage in multifunctional spaces?
Storage is something that often comes up when our design teams speak to people about creating their ideal rooms.
While lots of people understand that shutters are ideal for dividing rooms and controlling the light through windows, fewer people consider them as something that can be used to create or transform cupboard space.
Shutters can be designed and manufactured to fit virtually any window space – and the same is true of the nooks and crannies that can be transformed into effective storage space.
Ever wondered how to make the most of the space under your stairs?
Maybe the space on either side of your chimney breast is crying out to be used productively.
Then again, maybe you’d benefit from the entire end of one room becoming an attractive cupboard space.
With shutters, all this – and much more – is possible.
There’s no fixed way of making it happen either.
In some homes, shutters that open like cupboards are the perfect way to use this space – but in other rooms, having sliding shutters that open for maximum access into this space is the way forward.
With made-to-measure shutters, you can transform virtually any space into storage.
When you do, you don’t just create neatly organised spaces; you also often do away with the need for additional freestanding storage, like cupboards and chests of drawers.
This can help to unlock furniture configurations that haven’t previously been possible – or just free up floor space for a more spacious feeling home.
Practical examples of shutters in multifunctional spaces
We’ve talked a little about the theory of how shutters can work – but how have our designers made these features a reality in real people’s homes?
Multi-functional spaces that let people enjoy all the fun of family time are one of the most popular tasks our designers take on – closely followed by spaces that need to accommodate both work and rest.
Let’s take a look at both in a little more detail.
Multifunctional family rooms
We’ve talked about the factors that go into making great multi-purpose spaces – but what does a multifunctional living space look like in reality?
When our teams work in family rooms, we’re tasked with creating communal spaces that can easily transform from one use to another.
According to Ideal Home, the best family room ideas create zones for play, homework, storage, guests, and a little of that necessary life admin.
Often, this is about creating boundaries – and not just physical ones either.
Even if days of studying are a long way in the past for you, you’ll no doubt remember how tempting it was just to put the TV or some music on while you should have been doing homework.
Today, electronic distractions are even more present – instant messaging, game consoles, and the never-ending choice of social media platforms are available within seconds – snapping focus away from doing schoolwork or jobs around the house.
This often means family rooms have to be designed to be open and active when the time is right – but more closed and focused when required.
Room dividers can create space for homework or study without making teenagers feel like they’re being locked away until they’re finished working.
Even just having phones and TVs out of sight can help to break the urge to use devices and spend focused time on the task at hand.
As adults, we can pretend we’re immune from these kinds of distractions – but given the choice between catching up on work emails or just taking a few minutes to work on today’s Wordle and share our impressive vocabulary skills on social media, almost all of us will go for the least productive option.
As such, creating spaces where focus and leisure can be separated can benefit all ages – and being able to effortlessly slide bi-pass shutters along their tracks is a quick and discreet way to make sure everyone’s focus is where it should be.
Home offices in multifunctional spaces
At the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown, home offices were wide and varied. For some of us, the end of the dining table became a work area – and, if we’re honest, most of us at least tried that laptop-in-bed idea to see if it resulted in never-seen-before productivity levels.
As time moved on and the ache in our lower backs from awkward laptop working became more serious, we decided on more ergonomic solutions.
Dining chairs became office chairs, and stacks of books propping up laptops were swapped for dedicated desks in hastily cleared corners of the room.
For lots of us, work-from-home is something that’s continuing beyond the pandemic – but working at home more permanently comes with challenges – especially if space is at a premium.
Creating distinct areas for work often has to be done in a room with another role. Today, millions of homes around the UK have offices in dining rooms, bedrooms, garages, loft spaces, and even on landing areas at the top of the stairs.
One of the biggest challenges that come with working from home is being able to switch in and out of ‘work mode’ – i.e. not be tempted to just finish a quick job at 10 pm or take 20 minutes to mow the lawn when you should be wrapping up that PowerPoint presentation.
This isn’t easy – but in a multifunctional space, there are things you can do to give yourself a fighting chance.
Why not use shutters to completely hide the alcove that your computer desk sits in when it’s time to switch back to being at home? There’s a lot to be said for the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
Then again, why not pull across room dividers to shut off the dining area in an open plan kitchen so that Teams meetings can be done in peace without the risk of someone opening the fridge behind you as you talk through the monthly performance figures?
You might even decide that converting a garage or loft space into an office is a good idea. If you do, you don’t have to start erecting walls or clearing out years of clutter – you can clear enough space for your workstation and hide the useful storage space with track-mounted room dividers.
Home working space is desirable
It’s not just productivity that will increase if you manage to work a good home office space into a multifunctional room – there’s a chance it will increase interest in your home if you decide to sell in the future too.
According to Which.co.uk, industry research suggests 44% of under-40s will look for a place to work from home with looking for a new property.
Multifunctional space that combines work and rest is a great way to maximise value without having to turn bedrooms into offices.
What kind of multifunctional space would suit your home?
Before you start spreading out architects’ plans and looking for walls to knock through, it’s a good idea to sit down and think about what you want from your home and what kind of multifunctional space would help.
Perhaps you’d like a more social space? Or maybe more room for children to roam free would be useful?
Then again, maybe working from home is calling out for different zones that allow for uninterrupted work.
Sometimes it helps to really consider what you do with your space at the moment.
Remember, we’ve conformed to the idea of conventional home uses for decades – but now could be the time to break the mould.
For instance, how important is your dining room? If it’s the family hub that you eat at together every night, then it’s got an important role in your home – but if your dining table is just a big obstruction that collects dust as it waits for Christmas dinner, then maybe it’s time for a change.
This is just one example of course – but the message is the same; don’t be confined by convention – make every inch of your home useful to you.
Home as a social space
As a nation, we’ve seen lots of enforced changes to the way that we socialise over the last couple of years.
While lockdowns, bubbles, and limited use of leisure spaces are now thankfully things of the past, there are some changes that have left an impression on us – and home as a social space is something that’s stuck.
When pubs, restaurants, soft play areas, gyms, and other public spaces were closed or limited, we started doing things in our own homes.
Cooking a meal and inviting friends over replaced going out to eat – and we got more inventive with how we entertained children at home.
As such, our homes became places where we do more than just eat and relax.
When the rules allowed – we opened up and enjoyed with others, and, when it feels right, they’re places where self-care has been essential.
Multifunctional spaces have become an important part of how we’ve adapted to these new ways of spending time together and quality time by ourselves.
Remember when the kitchen was just for cooking and preparing packed lunches?
And, more importantly, do you remember when you realised everyone you’d invited over liked standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine rather than sitting at the table that you’d lovingly adorned with snacks for your guests?
Kitchens and spacious living areas are the ideal places for hosting guests – but, as you no doubt discovered as you quickly tidied before everyone arrived, there’s a difference between how your home is day-to-day compared to how it is when you’re expecting guests.
Open spaces are great if you’re having friends and family over – but when we’re dealing with the practicalities of life, we tend to fill open spaces with useful (and sometimes not-so-useful) ‘stuff’.
This is where attractive storage comes in extremely handy. Need to clear away the fruit bowl, blender, spiralizer, and recycling box before everyone arrives and gathers in the kitchen?
Why not create a tucked-away part of the room that’s designed for this very task? A shutter that cuts off the utility part of your kitchen will hide anything that doesn’t add to the ambience of the room.
Even if you don’t have a convenient utility room, then shutters can be used to create cupboard space where you might otherwise have areas that you don’t use.
When everyone’s left and you’ve collected compliments about how tidy your home is, you can lift everything back out, ready for normal life to resume on Monday morning…
Lifting the mood
Sometimes, home is all about rest – winding down, watching a boxset, reading a book, catching up on social media.
For times like these, feet-up on the sofa energy is fine – but when we spend lots of time at home, it’s important to mix these low energy times with times where we’re more switched-on and energised, ready to get things done.
Talk to people about what inspires energy and you’ll often hear the same kind of answers. Light, space, fresh air, music and similar ideas – not forgetting a fresh pot of coffee of course.
It’s not so much the actual shutters that will help you lift the mood in your space; it’s more about how invisible they can be if required – opening the space up completely for daylight and a dose of vitamin D.
Open a heavy pair of curtains and you’ve still got a heavy pair of curtains bunched up in your room – but open shutters completely and there’s barely any evidence they’re there – just plenty of sunlight and fresh air coming from outside.
Since plantation shutters are designed to match the style of your windows, they’ll swing open or slide back to reveal the full window aperture.
Likewise, sliding track shutters can be designed to fold back against your walls – taking up virtually no space at all.
And, if you do decide to inject a little energy into your home by actually dancing like no one is watching while your morning coffee brews, you can always close the louvres on your shutters for a few minutes just to be sure.
Health and wellbeing
Looking after ourselves – both mentally and physically – has never been more important.
Our homes are often a physical representation of how we feel – and if there’s no space for self-care in our homes, it’s something that can easily slip out of our minds.
Don’t panic; we’re not suggesting that we all clear our living rooms to make space for a series of gym machines – rather that we have somewhere that doubles as a self-care area.
- A place where you can sit quietly and practise mindfulness or read quietly
- Somewhere you can exercise – perhaps just with a yoga mat or Joe Wicks on the iPad
- An area where you can pamper yourself without constant interruptions
- A space where you can set up your favourite exercise machine – a Peloton bike or stepper, for instance
How can you use shutters to create space to focus on health and wellbeing?
Whether self-care means meditating, doing yoga, reading, or striving for a personal best on a running machine, we rarely want people watching us as we’re working towards a clear mind or a healthier physique.
This usually means shutters are used to cordon off your space as you use it for any kind of health and wellbeing.
Room dividing shutters are ideal for this. Perhaps an open plan dining area is the perfect location for meditation or exercise, but you don’t necessarily want to detract from your family’s time watching TV or studying.
Then again, you might be using converted loft space as a health and wellbeing sanctuary but don’t find the stacks of boxes up there especially zen-like.
Closing off part of your room with bypass or bi-fold track-mounted shutters to create a dedicated space doesn’t just give you the physical space you need – it’s also a fantastic way to create a more serene headspace to wind down from everyday life.
Having kids or grandkids in the house can be an absolute joy – but when you’ve stepped barefoot on a couple of Lego bricks or heard the Baby Shark song for the three-hundredth time, you can be entirely forgiven for wishing that they had their own space.
Shutters are a fantastic way to create space that confines the chaos of play without shutting children out of your attention.
When you slide a room divider closed between kids’ space and adult space, it’s entirely different to closing a door.
Firstly, you can still keep your ears tuned to listen out for any yelps or accidents – and, if you adjust the louvres, you can even keep an eye on play spaces while giving little ones their own room to enjoy themselves.
Of course, it’s not just giving children their own space to play that’s important – sometimes our designers are tasked with making sure little ones don’t wander into areas with hazards – like kitchens or gardens.
Shutters are the perfect way to make sure children stay safe in their part of your home.
If you’ve got pans on the stove and dishes coming out of the oven, room dividers that define play spaces mean you can be chef and parent without worrying about the two distinct areas colliding.
Connecting your home and garden
The British weather often means that swinging the doors open and inviting the weather into your home means putting a fleece on and putting mats down for muddy paws – but this changes when the sun breaks through the clouds in the summertime.
When the temperate breaks into double figures, it’s a great time to extend your living space to include garden or yard space.
Turning your garden into an area with multiple purposes often means making it as accessible as possible from your home.
One of the best ways to do this is through patio or French doors – but giving up a full wall to create access into your garden can often restrict what you do with that room.
This is where shutters provide a best-of-both-worlds solution.
When the sun is shining, shutters can slide back completely and your room can turn into a conduit between home and garden – meaning that alfresco dining and playing in the garden couldn’t be easier.
When autumn turns into winter and your close your patio doors for the final time in the year, you can slide full-height shutters over too – making sure the winter temperatures are trapped outside and giving you space to host a family Christmas dinner in the dining room again.
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