Extra space is a precious commodity for many of us, and the house that awards a bonus room or spare corner is worth its weight in gold.
The best bonus room ideas are birthed from a desire to turn an unused space into something impressive and practical. Depending on its size, your bonus room could become a second living room, extra bedroom, playroom, game room, or even a home theater. While many floor plans today include a finished bonus room, many of us must transform an unfinished area if we wish to obtain additional living space.
Decorating ideas are limitless when it comes to bonus room design. As with every room in your home, deciding the bonus room’s primary purpose is the first step in organizing your thoughts. You must also take into consideration the individual needs of the people who will be using the room most frequently. As you look through these bonus room ideas, take note of which design features make you smile and use them as inspiration for creating your own perfect spot.
1. Small Bonus Room Ideas
Even a small bonus room may quickly become your home’s favorite hangout spot. In fact, you may be surprised at how well you can turn a relatively small room into a combination living, working, and playing area. Some decor ideas may not work if you have a small bonus room, but you can also do a lot to maximize the extra space you’ve found.
Small bonus room ideas that make the most of the available space include built-in bookshelves and desks, set across from a sectional sofa strategically placed in the corner. Both serve to free up floor space for games and other activities. Monochromatic color palettes help a room look larger and their impact is boosted by any natural light beaming in through the windows. Make use of stripes on your walls or rugs, as they tend to visually elongate a space.
If you lack comfortable seating options for the number of friends who might hang out in your bonus room on special occasions, look for seating that can be stored away. An inflatable bean bag chair can be deflated and hidden inside an ottoman or closet and folding chairs can be stacked in a corner or in the garage. Even a soft yoga mat can make a hard floor comfortable for your guests.
2. Bonus Room TV Room and Theater Ideas
You may not be interested in bonus room ideas that involve creating a quiet place. In fact, your dream bonus room may be a perfectly loud home theater. Smart technology has made it possible to achieve an at-home theater experience that rivals your local cinema.
Programmable lighting and complex surround sound systems are more affordable than ever. Every metro area has companies dedicated to helping clients create the perfect space to enjoy favorite shows and movies. However, you can also educate yourself on home acoustics, then design and install a surround sound system yourself. Check out the following videos:
Of course, comfortable seating is an equally vital element in your theater or TV room. Invest in one or two comfy couches that recline, or purchase reclining theater seats that can be set up in rows. Frame and display some of your favorite movie posters, but keep the overall décor minimal so as to not distract attention away from the screen. Dark walls are helpful when watching a movie during the daytime, but don’t be afraid to run with a lighter color scheme in your home theater if it suits you better. For some ideas on TV walls, check out this article on The 70 Best TV Walls.
3. Bonus Room Playroom Ideas
A bonus room playroom is ideal for any family with children. Bonus room ideas for playrooms must first consider safety, then include all the touches needed to make the area your home’s designated fun zone. The space can grow right along with your children, evolving according to their ages, interests, and needs. Younger kids often enjoy having a small stage for their impromptu performances. Older kids will likely request an area to play video games with their friends.
A reading nook is a valuable addition to bonus room playrooms and can be as simple as installing an under-window bench flanked by bookcases. Great bonus playroom furniture for kids includes bean bag chairs, colorful, expansive rugs, and dual-purpose pieces that combine storage with seating. A built-in desk area is helpful if you want your children to use the playroom for homework as well.
4. Bonus Room Billiards and Game Room Ideas
Using a bonus room for games and billiards is an idea that goes back for decades. In fact, creating a game or hobby room remains one of the most popular bonus room ideas, especially when the space also incorporates room for lounging. Including a TV and gaming system in the lounge zone makes it a well-rounded game room for all ages.
If you want to feature a pool table, air hockey, poker table, or other large gaming station, make sure the room’s footprint accommodates the space each player will take up. Because of the room required to stroke a cue, there should be a minimum of five feet of clear space on each side of a pool table. Therefore, add at least 10 feet to the pool table’s dimensions when designing your billiard room floor plan. For some game room inspiration, check out our post on The Best Game Room Ideas.
Pendant lights or recessed can lighting is a must over any type of gaming table. Most people imagine a dark space for playing billiards, but there’s no reason that your bonus game room must be dark or dreary. White walls, pale wooden floors, and shiplap all contribute to a brightly inviting game room. If there are windows in your game room, you will appreciate the fresh air as well as the natural daytime lighting.
5. Bonus Room Bar Ideas
An inviting bar can be the primary reason behind creating a bonus room, or it may simply be a nice accessory to a room dedicated to gaming or lounging. Consider adding a small wine cellar off of your bar, especially if your bonus room is adjacent to a nice, cool basement. A bar area can be part of a small kitchenette, where you or your guests can easily prepare snacks and light meals.
At minimum, include a sink and small refrigerator behind your bar. Add a microwave oven if space allows. Wall cabinets provide necessary storage for your wine and spirits, and mirrored shelves provide a lovely place to display your glassware. A smaller bonus room bar is a great place to feature a high-end marble or quartz countertop—and don’t forget the bar stools.
Your bonus room bar can be painted a separate color to make it the area’s focal point. For example, paint the front of the bar a brilliant blue and add a matching window valance and throw pillows to carry the color throughout the space. For a really cool touch, considering adding a footrail.
You might prefer the bar to blend into the overall design instead. If you use a rustic, natural shiplap on the walls, mix it up a little by installing the panels vertically in front of the bar.
6. Bonus Room Ideas for Lounging Areas
A lounging area is a great place to incorporate any rustic bonus room ideas you may have. Rustic design is core warm and inviting, which is exactly the vibe that attracts people to a bonus room for lounging. Utilizing real wood wherever possible—on doors, ceilings, or shelves—brings home natural textures that can be adapted to modern, cottage, or traditional design plans.
A lounge area bonus room is the perfect place to showcase art or other accessories that might not suit the rest of the house, such as a mounted trophy catch or retro poster collection. Keep the space cozy and comfortable, with lots of plush seating options, soft rugs, and calming colors.
7. Attic and Loft Bonus Room Ideas
Slanted ceilings are an integral part of most attic bonus rooms and can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to interior design. On the positive side, a slanted wall or ceiling can make a room feel like a delightful little hideaway. On the downside, sloped ceilings can significantly reduce the amount of headroom in certain zones.
Even so, most people find bonus room ideas that work around this design challenge. Focus on storage in the parts of the room that have less headspace. These are often perfect areas to install built-in shelves, desks, or entertainment centers.
A loft bonus room is a popular feature on many new floor plans. These expanded landing zones are great areas for kids to congregate near their bedrooms. They often become game rooms or playrooms. The downside to a loft bonus room is that it doesn’t have a door to shut off the noise to the rest of the house. Even so, these are still valuable zones for adding a second living area to a home with a lot of family members living together.
8. Bonus Room Bedroom Ideas
If your family has grown beyond your home’s original footprint, turning a bonus room into a bedroom can give you the extra sleeping zone you need. A bedroom bonus room is also great for families who need a guest room for visiting family and friends. You may need to come up with some creative bedroom ideas depending on the unused room’s design, especially when it comes to storage.
Because a bonus room might not have built-in closet space, you may need to buy a tall wardrobe to hold clothing that needs to be on hangers. If you’re turning an unfinished space into a bonus room bedroom, it’s best to include a closet in your floor plan. Even if it must be somewhat small, a reach-in or walk-in closet is always a good idea.
A great bonus bedroom for company should include more than one bed, if possible. Your guests will love to stay in a special area created with them in mind. An open attic design, with sloped ceilings and a set of built-in bunk beds, is perfect when a large family comes to visit. If your bonus area has enough room, include a separate sitting area with comfy couches, a coffee table, and a TV.
Bonus Room FAQs
Why is my new attic space bonus room so hot?
If your HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) system was sized for the main house, it may not have the capacity to cool your new bonus room. Even if your contractor added air and return vents to the bonus room, there may not be enough force to keep each area cool. This is usually true when the new ductwork was spliced to an existing line.
Before investing in a bigger HVAC unit, make sure that enough insulation was used in your bonus room renovation. If your bonus room is over your garage, check the insulation between the garage ceiling and bonus room floor. A thicker layer of insulation may be enough to keep your existing AC from working too hard as it fights against the heat rising from the garage below.
Will I need a building permit to convert part of my basement into a bonus room?
Though it depends on your local building codes and how much work is required, chances are that you’ll need a building permit. Because permits are about safety, it’s a good idea to get one if you’re doing anything beyond basic cosmetic work—even if your DIY skills are top-notch. Why?
- The building inspector will make sure your end results are safe and built to code.
- It keeps your homeowners’ insurance valid for your entire structure.
- It matters when you try to sell your home, because you may not be able to sell it without bringing all renovated areas up to code.
- It’s illegal to not have a building permit on work that requires one.