How to make the most of a box room

A compact space might not seem like a chance to make exciting design decisions – but you’d be wrong to dismiss it. Bijou layouts can make an impact and look stylish while also working hard.

Many ideas for a box room concentrate on practicality… but what if I told you there’s more you can do? Of course, your focus should always be on making the most out of the very limited floor space, but that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style.

Whether you want to use it as a work from home set-up, a small space for guests, or something else entirely, we have collected some of our favourite ideas for box rooms.

So, are you ready to find the ideal solution for your home?

Ideas for box rooms: don’t shy away from using colour

Much like a cloakroom is ideal for experimenting with bold shades and patterns, a small box room can really benefit from bold choices.

home office design with compact desk and blue and pink wall paint
Colourful box room idea: Loving Teal and Peach emulsion, from £21 for 1 litre each, Yescolours.

Think about it: you don’t spend much time in there, so you won’t grow tired of more adventurous designs as easily. So why limit yourself to white walls?

You don’t have to go for crazy shades – you can, of course, but you could also choose a calming palette of soft neutrals. Colour drenching is a major trend right now and will create a homely, cocooning feel, ideal for offices or guest bedrooms.

But if you do want to go wild, this is your chance. Choose a patterned wallpaper you love but can’t see yourself using on a large scale, or feel free to experiment with a colour you think is too bright (or too dark) for any other room. Don’t hold back – decorate with textured fabrics, accent pillows and even wall art.

And don’t forget your ceiling, either – the fifth wall is great for making a design statement.

maximalist living room with bold wallpaper and accessories
Transylvanian Roots Zabola wallpaper, £219 for three rolls, Mindthegap.

Choose a multi-functional bed

As far as ideas for box rooms go, turning it into a space for guests is forever popular. And you really can’t beat a sofa bed – especially now, when working from home has become more popular and many rooms in our home serve multiple purposes.

Dark spare bedroom with compact sofa bed, patterned rug and wall decorations
The Footstool bed in warm grey, £879, Snug.

The humble sofa bed has evolved, too. No longer confined to being, well, a sofa, you can even get footstools that transform into a bed within minutes if you need it. And if you don’t, it’ll be a comfortable space to rest your feet – great when working.

Imagine sitting at your desk area and being able to put your feet up while still looking serious and professional. Sounds like a dream, right?

Get organised – and be creative about it

A box room is ideal as extra storage. Whether it serves as an overflow for your shoe closet (no judgement from us) or as a wardrobe for off-season clothes, the extra area can be put to good use.

But when floor area is limited, keeping everything tidy is key to maximise space and make it feel welcoming. That’s why clever storage solutions are perfect for box rooms.

home office design with open and closed shelving unit and jute rug on the floor
Modular home office desk, £1274.45, Shelved.

You can, of course, choose a shelving unit with a mix of open and closed storage space, but that’s not all. Make sure to keep the internals of any cabinets tidy and organised, too. This way, you’ll easily find things you’re looking for, plus it’ll be pleasing to look at.

And if you do use your space as an office, make sure your desk is organised, too. Nothing screams clutter like stacks of papers or pens just laying around. A lot of office furniture now combines style and practicality, so take your time to choose something that fits your need and your space.

Dressing areas are one of our favourite ideas for box rooms

Take the storage idea one step further and place all your wardrobes in this space. It not only frees up precious floor area in your bedroom, but also brings a little bit of glamour into your home. Opt for fitted wardrobes for a sleek, cohesive look, or mix and match freestanding pieces for a more eclectic, personalised look.

ideas for a box room: walk-in wardrobe with floor-to-ceiling units, drawers and dressing table
Walk in wardrobe with the Varenna bedroom furniture in Grey Oak, price on application, Daval.

You can go as glamorous or as practical as you want. Why not include a small central unit – much like an island in your kitchen – and use it to store and display accessories? Or choose a dressing table with a comfortable chair, so you can get ready in peace and without feeling cramped.

An open clothes rail also looks stylish and allows you to show off your favourite pieces – plus, it can help you save space.

Turn your box room into a laundry space

An upstairs laundry is a dream for many of us – so why not make it come true? This might not be the most common idea for a box room, but it is ranking high on the practicality scale. A compact design can still prove very useful, especially for a family.

ideas for a box room: laundry room design with blue units and brass handles
This laundry room with plenty of storage units was designed by Olive & Barr. Price on application.

Plus, it can bank you serious style points. Don’t just place a washing machine and tumble dryer in there – do your best to make it look beautiful. You can choose furniture to make it stand out or, for a cohesive look, match it to the cabinetry in your kitchen.

Don’t forget to include practical elements such as drying racks (remember to make sure your room is well ventilated, to prevent mould from growing), storage for detergent and other essentials – and maybe even a cupboard for other cleaning supplies and your vacuum.

If you have a little more space, you can even create a nook for ironing. Plus, a small table makes folding clothes a breeze.

And if you do want to stack your appliances on top of each other, remember to buy a stacking kit from the manufacturer. This way, you can rest assured in the knowledge that your arrangement is safe.

Create a layered lighting scheme

No matter which purpose your box room serves, illumination will be a key element – so getting it right is just as important.

ideas for a box room: wall lights in a cosy bedroom
Brooklyn wall holder in brass with plug and umbrella shade, £55, Industville. Photography: @joeykendallbrown

For a bedroom or home office specifically, make sure your lighting has layers. This means combining task and ambient lighting, so you’re ready for every occasion.

Pendants are practical as task lighting, but also great as cosy bedside lamps. Connect them to a dimmer switch, so you can regulate how bright they’ll be, and make sure to place one by the door and one next to the bed – this way, you won’t have to get up to switch them on or off.

If you have an area where you do your makeup, bright task lighting that doesn’t cast shadows is a must – otherwise, you risk your makeup looking patchy and uneven.

And of course, a soft glow is always a good idea. Fit LED strips under furniture, such as your desk or wardrobes, to create a cosy atmosphere that’ll help you relax and unwind – or to gently wake you up in the morning.

Looking to update your kitchen? Check out these clever ideas, from big to small

Featured image: Orlando tinted glass schoolhouse shade in Amber, £129, Industville. Photography: @davidgilesphotography and @lifofaninteriorstylist

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