Flex Space: It’s Here To Stay

Flex Space

It’s no mystery the last two years have altered home design in new construction forever, but what remains to be seen is whose tastes will prevail over the next decade or so. The millennial generation, albeit the largest group of homebuyers, are still but a fraction of the whole. What may work for this age group, might not for other generations like X, baby boomers, etc. Since 2020, the emergence of flex space has become popular and has gained traction, notably for those seeking a home on the market.

Flex space is simply an area within a home that’s able to evolve with the needs of its owner. Its essential elements are flexibility, versatility and evolution. These elements are key! Depending on the daily, weekly or yearly needs of a homeowner, how can the home respond? If you ever doubted residences had life within them, disbelieve no more. Flex space breathes more life into homes than we ever could have imagined, but a short while ago. And it goes beyond residential properties and home design. This concept has lived within the confines of commercial real estate for decades, a hybrid of office and industrial space.

What makes flex space within a home attractive though is its ability to alter the interior of the home without changing the structure of it. There are no additions needed, and quite frankly, with distribution channels and contractor timetables the way they are for the foreseeable future, this is another longer-term solution available to homeowners looking to upgrade their homes.

It’s important to reinforce, this concept/trend isn’t for everyone. As stated above, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy to new construction nor updates to a home. When flex space is infused into a property there’s a specific intent in mind. Just as a kitchen is the center of many homes and there’s a particular purpose for that space, flex space likewise gives greater meaning to a room. If the room becomes less functional, it ceases to be a flex room and becomes a forgotten space. The room that once served a purpose, might now contain a bed, a computer monitor and about a dozen or more tchotchke items. This is one of the downsides to this concept and the de-evolution of a room, if you will. If it starts to serve little purpose, in the end, it will mirror nothing more than a glorified closet or storage spot.

When it doesn’t include the flexibility, versatility and the ability to evolve, the space will become like any other room in the house, or worst yet – the definition of clutter. Flex space should never be used as a bonus room. Build upon it, yes, but don’t settle there. There is a danger in having a multipurpose room cease to perform as such and resemble a failed attempt to maximize space. While maximizing space and functionality are certainly important when considering flex-ability in the home, significant thought should be given to what’s most important for homeowners and their families. How much time are they spending at home? Are they working from home as well? Having a plan is vital with this design trend, which will remain a permanent expectation for buyers, according to realtor.com’s chief economist, Danielle Hale.

The needs of homeowners in addition to buyers are presently driving design and of course, this trend is an off-shoot of that. There are many ways this concept is flourishing in real estate in 2022, including home offices which double as libraries, playrooms which are also guest rooms or home theaters that morph into family rooms including a wet bar to entertain guests. The absolute best use of flex space in the home though is when we use the three principles of flexibility, versatility and evolution and merge them with technology and home automation. Quite honestly, this is the direction this trend is headed, especially with younger homebuyers. We can identify it as true “flex space.” Joe Wheeler, co-director at the Center for Design Research demonstrates how this trend is evolving and what we can expect in the not-so-distant future:

Flex space is an interesting concept, to say the least. What are your thoughts about this trend and how do you see it playing out in your residence over the next decade or so?

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