It isn’t quite a bedroom, not really an office, and definitely not a living room.
It could be in the basement, or maybe the attic as well (if you’re renting a single family house).
So, how do you use this space for maximum benefit, without just turning it into a storage room?
Well, that depends…
Can It Become a Bedroom?
It’s time to look up your local health/building codes to determine the requirements for a bedroom and also refer to your lease to see if there is anything specific stopping you from using it as such.
The International Residential Code, which has been adopted by most states, has several requirements to be considered a bedroom. States and local governments can add to the requirements, and some places don’t use the IRC, so do your research first.
Most places have a square footage requirement and also require a window and a closet.
Note About Egresses:
While you may not care about the footage or closet requirements for it to be a legal bedroom, you should care about the requirement for it to have a window. A window is a great fire exit, so it’s not something you want to forget about!
This is especially true in Basements and Attics because they are notoriously bad places to be during a fire. You want to make sure that there is a way out of there before letting someone sleep there.
Make sure there is a 2nd set of stairs or a window that can be easily opened and climbed out of!
It Can’t Be a Bedroom, Now What?
Most bonus spaces can’t be used as a bedroom, so don’t feel bad about that.
The first step is to figure out exactly what you’re working with and what it can look like when you’re finished.
Keep in Mind The Location
Basements are usually cool and damp, so you may need extra heat during the winter and a dehumidifier. Good space heaters and dehumidifiers are fairly expensive and a dehumidifier needs to be emptied regularly if there isn’t a built in drain for it.
Attics are really hot, so you’ll need to consider cooling it in the summertime. Also, you need to make sure it’s ventilated properly because moisture tends to collect at the top of the house and you don’t want to live in a place with mold or mildew!
Does it Need Extra Work?
Often, the landlord will have overlooked this area because, after all, it is ‘bonus’ space. So, it may not have all the nice finishes that the rest of the house has.
The first thing to do is ask if the landlord would be willing to finish painting, adding trim, or doing whatever the area needs.
If the landlord doesn’t want to do the work, you can offer to do it for them, or even offer to pay slightly more rent should it be completed. This is great too because you can have more say in how it’s finished so it will match your final vision.
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the bigger considerations, here are a few common ways people use their bonus space.
Do you often work from home or perhaps run a side business or internet business? Then an office might be perfect for you.
You really don’t need much more room than whatever the space of your desk and chair require. So, tiny rooms even as small as 60 square feet can fit a small office.
There are a ton of benefits to having an office that is separate from the rest of your home. For starters, you are far less likely to get distracted by other things!
Secondly, you can close the door to stop the significant other, children, or even pets from coming and disturbing your train of thought.
Den or Media Room
The most common way people use their extra space is by using it as a second living room, den, or media room. Most often, you’ll find these in the finished basement or attic areas.
Basically, one living room will be a bit more formal for having guests over. The den or media room will be for watching TV, movies, or just hanging out.
If you are outfitting a room for this use, it might be beneficial to install speaker wires around the room (this is very cheap) so you can install surround sound tv.
If you aren’t the kind of person to watch a lot of tv or movies, you might want to consider turning it into a game room.
This could be for video games or you could buy a bar and turn it into a place for you and the friends. It is typically furnished with a Pool Table, Ping Pong Table, Dart Board, or other recreational amenities.
With a good game room setup, you’ll definitely have the spot where everyone comes to hang out.
Advertising Bonus Space as An AirBnB Rental
The first thing to do is to make sure this is not against your lease. If your lease says you cannot use it as a short term rental or specifically prohibits you from subletting, then you probably cannot use it as an AirBnB rental.
The next thing to do is to make sure you’re not risking someone’s life by letting them stay there (see above about extra egresses and windows).
If you can use it for a short-term rental and it’s safe, the next step is to get some basic furniture for it. You’ll require a bed, a bureau, sheets, blankets, and maybe a desk with a chair.
Now it’s time to advertise your bonus space.
Charging For the Space
It’s hard to say what it’s worth as an AirBnB rental, as that will depend on the particular room and your area. But, you should make sure you price it low at first until you build up reviews as a good host.
The only way you’ll know what it can get is to list it and find out!
A lot of people just need extra space for storage.
Having a clean and dry area to toss junk is the obviously the least desirable use of it, but it’s better than renting a storage unit somewhere.
There are a ton of great uses for that random bonus space in your apartment. From an office to a game room, or an AirBnB rental or just storage space – it really just depends on your imagination and needs.