Think Big with Bonus Rooms

For homeowners embarking on a major home remodeling project, it’s choosing the individual elements of the remodel that can be the most rewarding. This is particularly true for bonus rooms, or extra spaces in a home that have no pre-determined use but offer a lot of potential.  Whether you’re looking for a room to house your extensive book collection, watch movies, exercise, play games or do any number of other hobbies, remodeling a bonus room is the best way to personalize that space to accommodate your needs and interests, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).
You probably already have an idea of how you hope to outfit your bonus space, but remodeling professionals can help you make those ideas a reality. “We go through a process in our design program and ask questions about what our client’s needs are and what they are trying to achieve,” says Linder Jones, AIA, design director for Harrell Remodeling in San Francisco. “Sometimes clients and designers get off base when they come up with an immediate solution instead of analyzing what the space will be used for. Homeowners should think about how many people will be in the space and how many activities they will do in there.”

A Place for Meditation
            Bonus rooms can take many shapes and sizes.  While some homeowners opt to turn bonus rooms into practical spaces like offices or media rooms, it’s possible to create more unusual spaces that are tailored for a specific interest.
            Harrell Remodeling recently won a Southwest Regional CotY award for a unique yoga bonus room its team designed for a family in the Bay Area. “The homeowner wanted a space that she could invite her friends over to and do some yoga and resistance exercises,” Jones says. “The place she used to go for yoga closed and she and her friends wanted to continue to do yoga together.”
            The solution was a multi-purpose space that served as a yoga room and guest bedroom. Jones designed the 300-square-foot area to have a relaxing Zen feel. A long mirror and ballet bar was installed along one wall. On the other, custom cabinetry provided storage for yoga mats, a massage table, exercise accessories and a Murphy bed, which could be folded out when guests stayed the night. “The cabinetry was all very custom,” Jones said. “The room had access to the home’s crawl space, so we built the cabinets deeper so that they could store larger, odd-shaped items like luggage.” The room also opened to two decks, taking full advantage of the wonderful views outside. On nice days, the homeowner and her friends could easily take their mats outdoors and practice yoga in the sun.


A place that honors history
            Anita Kealey, designer and owner of the Design Studio in Sioux Falls, S.D., transformed a bonus room into a music parlor, which won a National CotY award for residential interior over $100,000. The 5,000+ square-foot loft located on the top floor of a historic building was built in 1888 and had a long history of owners and uses. Over the years, the structure was home to a variety of commercial, retail and professional businesses, including a dance hall and a ballet school. The current owner’s father’s dance orchestra played for functions in the building’s third floor ballroom in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the 1970s, she also took classes in the ballroom.

            Remodeling the loft’s bonus room into a music parlor not only gave current owner a place to entertain 6 to 65 people, but it also honored the building’s history.  “Our goal was combine her eclectic personality with a modern collection of art and furnishings and a love of music while blending the early craftsman styling of the building,” Kealey says. “The result is a study of functional art and culture.”

            The room houses a grand piano and guitar collection and boasts rich wood and stainless steel accents that are sensitive to the historic charm of the 120-year-old structure. An artistic spiral stairs leads up to an additional bonus loft and a 40-foot-long deck that looks out to the downtown area.   “The intention was to have all the entertaining areas, to flow into each other and be able to close off the private/quiet family areas,” Kealey notes.


Bonus spaces go to the dogs

            Some bonus spaces are planned with pets in mind. Chip Greth, Jr., general contractor and owner of Innovative Kitchens and Baths partnered with Lifestyle Design in the greater Philadelphia area to remodel a high-end laundry room that includes a pet washing station. The team won a Northeast Regional CotY award for the project.

             “Our clients had two English boxers that they wanted to keep contained in the kitchen and laundry room areas,” Greth says. To accommodate their client’s beloved pets, Greth and his partners converted a half car garage into the laundry room and added a small bump-out addition. In addition to a new laundry area, the room featured a 5×3-foot dog shower, complete with a shower wand, and custom cabinetry that could store laundry detergents and pet supplies.

            The homeowners didn’t want it to look like a shower, so Greth installed louvered doors in front of it to mimic the look of a closet. Slate-look porcelain tile, known for its high style, easy maintenance and durability, dressed up the floor in the space. “This was the finest laundry room we’ve ever done,” Greth says.

NARI remodelers can help homeowners plan custom bonus spaces for your home. Log on to  to find a remodeler in your area.


About NARI: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry.  With more than 8,200 member companies nationwide, the Association — based in Des Plaines, Illinois — is “The Voice of the Remodeling Industry.”™ For membership information, or to locate a local NARI chapter or a remodeling professional, visit NARI’s Web site at or contact the national headquarters office at 800-611-NARI. 

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