Dangers of Dual-Use Rooms
Recently, I realized that throughout our book, Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality, we constantly intone about the organizational dangers of dual-use rooms. No, we don’t mean you’ll hurt yourself, although you could trip if there’s too much clutter around. We mean that dual-use rooms make it harder to stay organized. They rarely serve either purpose well and/or detract from one another. You know your Peloton bike doesn’t make your bedroom look or feel more Zen.
The problem with our advice right now is obviously COVID. Half of America is spending every waking hour in a dual-use room at this point. There are kitchens that are also classrooms, bedrooms that are offices, dining rooms that are now gyms. Our dual-use advice and admonishments seem rather out of date given the pandemic’s impact on our society. So rather than fight this trend, we’re embracing it with our trademark simple solutions.
Buy furniture designed to masquerade
When I see some makeshift home schools and offices in their dining and sleep spaces created during the pandemic, I almost want to weep. I know how long that clutter will linger in those spaces long after Covid has passed. Instinctively, I want to see if there are two closets I can condense into one. Then convert the spare one into an office or home school station. Run to the hardware store for a can of paint, a brush, and a piece of plywood for the desk. Alternatively, run to the Container Store and quickly design an Elfa desk for the closet. Then trick it out with office supplies. You get the drift.
But even if there isn’t a spare closet, there are SO many pieces of furniture designed to do double duty. It’s 2021. If you can imagine it, it probably exists. There are benches that are secret file cabinets. Then there are end tables that are file cabinets. There are bookshelves that are dining tables. There is even a blank wall canvas that can become a dining table or desk. But I think my favorite is a desk that becomes bunk beds. In fact, I loved it so much I bought it for a tiny room in our house to convert it into an office/bedroom for my preteen son.
Avoid the office/bedroom combo*
I think there is a line in Organize Your Way where we specifically tell Organic Freedoms to never ever ever have a home office in their bedroom. This rings true even in Covid Times. It’ll be a mess and your bedroom will, for lack of a better word, suck. If you’re an Organic Freedom you know this is true.
The main reason we give this advice about the office/bedroom combo is that it is hard for dual-use rooms to serve anyone well for both purposes. Sleep is so important that it’s not a great place to have anything that might cause stress. It’s why I moved my sons’ bassinets to their bedrooms at the earliest opportunity when they were newborns. I loved them immensely but I needed t sleep and wasn’t getting much with them right next to me.
Now the asterisk above is for situations where this combo is unavoidable. Go back up to the masquerading solutions above. Then, figure out a way to NOT visually see your office when it’s time for bed. You’ll be blissful.
When we publish the 2nd edition of our book, we’ll put in an asterisk next to our dual-use room admonishments. *This advice is null and void during pandemics.