Design-Savvy Tips for a Mixed-Use Space

Bold color, all-natural materials and space-saving ideas transform a catchall area into an all-in-one guest bedroom and media room.
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November 25, 2014
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Neglected Space, Transformed

A mix of high and low items and use of high-energy colors has created a cozy, warm space which accommodates up to five people comfortably. The slipcovered sofa opens up to reveal a full-sized mattress while a pair of seagrass wingback chairs offers a spot for guests to sit and chat. When it's time for the sofa to pull out into a sleeper, a steel coffee table on casters simply rolls off to the side.


For years, this neglected catchall space was used as a spot to store castaway items while also offering a spot for guests to rest their heads. In order to turn it into a showstopping space to watch TV by day and house guests at night, it was reinvented with clever space planning, bold color and multipurpose pieces.

Full-Sized Sleeper

In addition to seating three people comfortably for gathering and watching TV, the slipcovered sofa pulls out to reveal a full-sized sleeper. When choosing sleeper sofas for small, secondary spaces rather than great rooms, be sure and measure doorways and hallways first since many sleeper sofas are deeper than standard-sized sofas. Additionally, keep in mind that sleeper sofas are much heavier in weight than standard-sized sofas or loveseats, and it may take up to three people to move them properly into place.

Coordinating Bedding

During long-term visits from guests, it's likely the sleeper sofa may remain pulled out for several days at a time. To tie the overall decor of the room into the bedding ensemble, an embroidered duvet cover and navy sateen sheets were chosen to coordinate with the room's moody blue and springy green color scheme.

Pretty Patchwork

Designers try to use all-natural materials whenever possible due to their ability to warm up a space and introduce texture. For an element of surprise with graphic impact, the inside wall of the room was covered with a patchwork textile application using a mix of linen, cotton, hemp and corduroy fabrics. In addition to its organic qualities, the patchwork feature wall helps tie together the color scheme. In front of the patchwork wall sits a do-it-yourself cat condo made from PVC pipe wrapped with sisal rope, then equipped with woven wicker baskets reinforced with steel brackets.

Coffee Table With Character

To multipurpose the room as a sleeping space and an area to gather and watch TV, the sleeper sofa is paired with a weathered steel coffee table. In addition to the durability of the steel construction, the weathered finish allows for the family to be as carefree around it as they wish, with any dings or scratches simply adding to the aged look. While the upper surface of the table houses coffee table books for guests to read, the area below is ideal for keeping remotes and bedding within arm's reach.

Push It

Keeping modularity in mind for the design of the room, the steel coffee table was also chosen due to its attached casters. When the space shifts from media room to guest suite, the table is simply pushed to the side, allowing the sleeper to be pulled out. For spaces heavily used by children, it's important to choose casters with locks which will prevent the furniture from being pushed around heavy-handedly while also ensuring the table won't move should a child climb on top of it.

Stylish, Supportive Pillows

In comfy spaces meant for rest and relaxation, the right pillows can make a world of difference in regard to proper head support. Instead of using toss pillows to dress up the sleeper sofa, standard bed pillows with custom-sewn covers were created from a high-end printed linen. Should a family member or guest decide to take a nap on the sofa, the bed pillows offer the perfect amount of support.

Mixed Patterns

Layering was taken into consideration for the overall look of the space. To mix different prints while keeping the moody blue and springy green color scheme consistent, the custom bed pillows are mixed with custom 20"x20" throw pillows sewn from a woven fabric featuring a peacock-blue and white ikat print.

Flea Market Finds

Many designers incorporate vintage items into their spaces whenever possible to add a sense of history and collectedness. A pair of 1950s ceramic table lamps featuring a mix of brown, pea green and yellow were picked up at a local flea market for less than $100. In addition to their ceramic construction, the burlap shades add to the all-natural look of the room.

Playful Art

Art is the most personal element of decorating and can be very intimidating to homeowners. And although original art is associated with hefty pricing, it doesn't have to be. The framed dragonfly folk art was painted on discarded materials and purchased inexpensively. To elevate the playful subject to a higher level of design, it was professionally matted, mounted, then framed with bamboo. Keeping safety in mind, the art is protected by clear acrylic rather than glass. Should the art be knocked loose from the wall, the shatterproof acrylic poses no threat.

Go Organic

From the floor to the ceiling, everything within the media and guest room is made from organic materials. In addition to many organic materials being better for the environment, especially when harvested from rapidly renewable resources, they also add a tactile element when used for interior design.

Grass-Cloth Ceiling

To add textural, architectural interest to the lackluster ceiling, it was covered with grass-cloth wall covering. Made from woven seagrass, the grass cloth was installed by cutting each roll to size, priming the ceiling, pasting the back of each cut roll, and then positioning in place, smoothing out with a wallpaper smoothing tool, then cutting to size with a retractable blade.

Coastal-Cool Pendant

Coastal style is known for its casualness and abundance of weathered finishes. To bring a touch of coastal chic into the media and guest room, the ceiling fan was taken down and replaced with a basket pendant featuring a whitewashed finish. The single-bulb fixture was placed on a dimmer, allowing it to function as ambient lighting when guests are over to enjoy conversation.

Jute Area Rug

The coastal casualness makes its way from the ceiling all the way to the floor in the form of a 10'x12' jute area rug. Prior to the redesign the floor of the media and guest room was covered with dated wall-to-wall carpet. After replacing the carpet with smooth, white wood laminate, the rug was used to add traction since children occupy the space to play sports-themed video games. Should anything spill on the rug or be tracked in by shoes, its neutral coloring and nubby texture will help hide any wear and tear.

White Accents

The springy greens and moody blues used in the design could easily become overpowering if not balanced properly. To keep the high-energy hues in check tonally, accents of white were used including: the window trim in the adjacent powder room; the whitewashed basket pendant along the ceiling; the upholstery of the seagrass armchair cushions; the lampshade atop the blue ceramic ginger jar lamp; and the linen slipcover of the sleeper sofa.

Keep It Consistent

Since the design of the room is packed with pattern, color and texture, the crown molding was painted the same color as the walls to keep the space from becoming too busy. When standing in the room, the eye goes straight from the walls up to the grass-cloth ceiling, uninterrupted by the crown molding.

Vintage Storage

One of the quickest ways for a media room to take on a cluttered look is by using an ill-fitting, open storage TV stand. Since the family has a large DVD collection as well as gaming systems and controllers, concealed storage was a must. To create a tailor-made storage solution, a vintage wooden dresser was retrofitted as a game storage console and placed directly under the wall-mounted flat-panel TV. To do this, first the top three drawers were taken out and dismantled. Next, plywood was cut to size, then fixed along the interior to create a sturdy shelf to hold cable boxes, DVRs and gaming systems. Lastly, holes were drilled into the back panel, allowing cords to reach outlets, then the drawer fronts were re-attached with hinges, enabling each to flip forward for remote-control access to components when in use.

Secondary Seating

To make the most out of the space, a secondary seating area was added along the exterior wall in front of the windows. With the sleeper sofa only three feet away, the additional seagrass wingback chairs allow conversation for up to five.

Updated Driftwood

A white-painted driftwood table placed between the seagrass wingback chairs keeps the all-natural style flowing throughout the space. Originally discovered with a dated finish, the driftwood was updated with a sprayed finish of satin white latex paint. Designers often recommend adding a fresh coat of white paint to any old piece of furniture to give it a more modern identity.

Custom Drapery

A mix of high and low was used throughout the design of the media and guest room. To cover the windows, custom panels were sewn from apple-green and peacock-blue ikat linen fabric, then installed on ready-made, white wooden hardware picked up at a discount retailer.

High/Low Mix

High and low is also evident through the accessorizing of the seagrass wingback chairs. While the chairs themselves were picked up locally through a discount retailer for less than $300 each, they were elevated to a level of high style with the same custom-sewn throw pillows used on the sleeper sofa, also helping tie the seating arrangement together visually.

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