Gone are the days of naming rooms for their purposes. Laundry rooms, studies, living rooms, and kitchens are all giving way to multiuse spaces, and while no one's showering in the kitchen quite yet, the boundaries continue to blur between other rooms in the home. Industry suppliers are accommodating the trend with design and product solutions.

“We did extensive consumer research and kept hearing about the kitchen being multifunctional,” says John Swenson, director of brand marketing for Electrolux, which debuted its “Live-In Room” concept (shown) at the 2006 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. “We reviewed how the kitchen is used and developed a space that makes it a comfortable setting that encourages togetherness.”

Courtesy Electrolux

Separated by zones — not walls — the Live-In Room features a professional cooking area outfitted with the company's ICON product line, a less formal dining and entertaining space, and a comfortable lounge area with sofas, a television, a beverage center, and more. Swenson says small-scale appliances — such as the beverage center or dishwasher and microwave drawers — are easily integrated into living spaces and help define this type of multiuse space. Food-prep islands and comfy seating also are necessities.

Laundry rooms are another area becoming the multifunctional workspace of choice for many homeowners, notes Paul Radoy, design services manager with Merillat. “We're always trying to come up with ideas that can help builders and remodelers differentiate the homes they work on from those of their competitors,” Radoy says.

Merillat's multiuse layouts incorporate cabinetry from across the brand to bring laundry, craft, office, and other spaces conveniently together. Rethinking some cabinets' purposes, Radoy says his design team discovered that small kitchen “spice drawers” also make great storage for sewing notions, fly-tying supplies, or model-building parts. Pull-out desk surfaces double as sewing stations, and an island on casters is ideal for a laundry-folding table or gift-wrapping surface.

When properly outfitted, multiuse spaces let homeowners stay productive without feeling like they're in a utility room.
Courtesy Merillat When properly outfitted, multiuse spaces let homeowners stay productive without feeling like they're in a utility room.

Both Electrolux ( www.electroluxusa.com) and Merillat ( www.merillat.com) have tools and checklists on their Web sites to encourage multiuse-space thinking. “Remodelers and their clients need to take stock of their storage needs and how the space will work — just as if you were designing a kitchen,” Radoy says. “It's exciting to see what people will do with this mixed-use approach because the result will be different for everyone.”

  • 86% of Americans are involved in some sort of activity in their kitchen besides cooking, such as paying bills, doing homework, or crafting.
  • 67% of adults say they use their kitchen to socialize and entertain guests.
  • 33% of adults spend three to four hours in their kitchen in a typical day; 20% say they spend more than five hours there every day.
  • 58% of Americans say the kitchen is one of their favorite rooms in the house.

Source: Electrolux “Kitchen Confidential” survey