Dec 21, 2016

Don't Abuse the Third Bedroom... Use It!


Harry Potter lived in a cupboard under the stairs.

He was lucky.

Had his guardians really wanted to make him suffer they’d have stuck him in what Estate Agents optimistically refer to as the 'third bedroom'.

AKA the box room. The broom cupboard.

Or, more practically speaking, extra storage space. Except of course that it isn’t, not in a practical sense anyway.

Open the door, deposit whatever it is you don’t need but still want to keep, close the door and forget that it ever happened.

A familiar tactic for many. Come on, own up. How many of you have got a room like this in your home?

Yet it needn’t be a lost cause. Indeed, rather than being the room that an estate agent regards as an obstacle, it can be one that draws as much attention and interest as any expensively refurbished bathroom or vast open plan kitchen.

Less really can be more.  A lot, lot more.

Let’s assume that your ‘difficult’ third bedroom is being used for precisely that purpose. If that is the case then, unsurprisingly, the bed is going to be the focal point. Thus, if you have a large bed in a small room then it’s going to look and feel uncomfortable. Yes, it IS a bedroom. But is your own room just a space with a bed in it? Of course not. We want our bedrooms to reflect who and what we are.

They have character, emotion, even personality.

Picture the scene. Someone is being shown around the house. They are shown the kitchen, the living room, bathroom, main bedroom, even the study cum office.

All are accompanied by a long and loving description of the room, it’s decor and the inspiration behind it.

You may as well be in the Guggenheim for all the love and money that’s been splashed out on the master bedroom.

Yet the door to the third bedroom remains firmly shut. No-one goes in there.

That’s the smallest bedroom explains the host, rushing the adoring hoards past it as if it’s contents had leprosy.

Now, let’s go and take a look at the guest WC. Simon found this totally ama-zing  bidet when he was in Japan...

Such is the lot of the spare bedroom. Overlooked in favour of something which...well, you get my drift.

But no more.

Let’s start with the fundamentals. And that means the bed. Having a large bed in a small bedroom will instantly make it feel cramped and uncomfortable. And hotels are as guilty as anyone when it comes to this.

I found myself booked into a smallish room one night. No problem, it was just a place to sleep, nothing more. But the bed was so big, I had to move it to one side in order to get into the bathroom.


So consider having a smaller bed and size down the decor that comes with it. If there are a hundred books crammed onto a single book case then get rid of ninety of them and either leave the space clear or put a few carefully chosen decorations there instead.

A candle, a crystal, a vase with a single flower in it.

Get the picture? Indeed, if the picture in on the wall is a big one then get it out and either replace with a smaller one or consider putting a mirror there instead.

Mirrors instantly make small rooms look spacious.

Whilst we’re on the subject of light and space, don’t forget how important your choice of room colour is in all of this. Much like the dreaded avocado suite that dominated your guest bathroom for years-well, let’s face it, you don’t have to use it-small bedrooms, being the runt of the household litter, are usually daubed in whatever cheap and plentiful colour paint that comes to hand.

Failing that, they are the only room in the home that is still afflicted with the dread psychedelic wallpaper of yesteryear.

I know. It looked SO good in the catalogue.

Dark colours have this annoying habit of absorbing light. And, whilst you can blame Physics for that, the noble science is far from responsible for you allowing any room, most of all a small one to be dominated by light sucking shades of brown and similar. So, for the very best effect, select soft tones of off-white, blue and green. Brighter rooms always look bigger and more inviting so, whilst you’re at it, how about painting your wall trim and mouldings in an even lighter colour than your walls.  

I think we’re getting somewhere.

But how about if you don’t want that smallest room to be a bedroom anymore?

It doesn’t have to be. There’s no arcane law that says that you have to shove a bed into the smallest room in your house and hope for the best.

Oh no no no no no, dear me no (try ‘hearing’ that in a Stephen Fry voice) not at all.

Small rooms present big opportunities. And you can, if you want, let yourself go a bit here. Because there is no need to be practical or stay within any pre-defined lines. Especially if it means removing the threat of an errant twenty-something ever returning to the roost just to ‘get their head together’.

I’m sorry but we don’t have a bedroom for you here anymore.

You. Have. The. Power.

One very obvious solution in this era of working from home is to convert your smallest bedroom into an office.

Now there’s no easy way to go about this. But believe me, it’ll be worth it...

The most sensible and effective approach is to totally empty the room and to start from scratch. That also means taking it seriously. So no lugging the bed out and shoving a cheap desk from Staples in its place.

Don’t you dare.

Take rough measurements to determine where you can best out the larger items. That includes the all important desk, filing cabinets and work tables. Note where the electrical sockets are in the room as well as where the window is and whether you want to be able to sit and look out of it as you work (not recommended, can be a distraction) or whether you’d prefer it at your back (in which case a blind will be needed) or at the side.

Much thinking needed here, even before the banging, crashing, nailing, screwing and painting starts.

But, again, it will be worth it.

You’ll still need to maximise the space you have. So think about having a dedicated corner desk unit instead of a standard desk. Lots of space for you and, if needed, someone else, without taking up too much space in the room.

You’re on the way. The rest is up to you. But look. Google started its life in someone’s bedroom. Why not go one better?

More ideas on what to do with the bedroom that doesn’t need to be a bedroom anymore in the next blog.

In the meantime, if you’ve done anything creative with your smallest room, send us a picture so we can feature it here.

Get creative. It’s fun!