Most of us are still spending more time inside our homes. What started as a pandemic-era necessity — work, learn, and play from home — has become a new awareness of just how much our homes can offer us. We're asking more of our homes than ever before, and that's a good thing — because we're discovering new uses and surprising flexibility, and also getting clearer on our needs for play, productivity, and privacy.

Finding creative ways to make our living spaces serve a variety of purposes (style blogger Emily Henderson calls this concept the "Swiss Army home," a nod to the classic, multi-purpose knife) helps develop that balance of activity, alone time, community, and refuge we want from our homes.

How can you create flex spaces and make the most of your home's living areas and features? Here are a few ideas.

Make Established Spaces Perform Double (or Triple) Duty

You're likely already doing this in places. For example, your kitchen table hosts the family for meals, gives the kids a place to tackle homework, and lets you sort out the week's correspondence. Your sofa may be where you catch up with friends, watch TV, and finish writing that proposal on your laptop.

If you have a LaCantina door system, you know how seamless it is to turn your deck or patio into a breezy WFH space, a virtual classroom for the kids, or a meditation room. Or to enhance your most versatile indoor spaces with a wealth of daylight, healthy fresh air, and relaxing views — elevating every activity that happens there.

You can also expand how one room is used. Open floor space in your living room or great room becomes an informal dance studio, a place to put down a yoga mat while you stream a virtual session, or a pop-up gym. Hand weights and resistance bands can stay close by but out of sight in a nearby basket. Open your sliding doors, to boost air quality instantly.

Say you want certain spaces to remain dedicated — for example, you'd prefer that the kitchen table be used for meals only. Look into adding a small table or desk and chair in a corner of the living room or against the back of the sofa. That can serve as a "hot desk" flex space for kids and adults, for homework, writing, bill paying, and special projects.

Need a quiet place to get away for a while? Consider adding a comfy chair, small table, and a good lamp to a free corner of your home office or guest room.

Find Creative New Uses for Underused Spaces

If you have a formal dining room that no one eats in, make it a flex space. Add shelves and a plush chair, and the space becomes a personal library with a reading table. The table can double as a WFH conference room, a homework space, a family-night gaming space, or a crafting or hobby area.

Have a guest room that rarely hosts visitors? It's worth considering whether to dedicate the space to something more pressing and useful: a private art studio, a second office, or a playroom. If you need to maintain a space for overnight guests, look at the rest of the room creatively for other uses, including cleverly concealed storage. (More on that in a minute.)

A large open area at top of the stairs can be a great place to get more out of a space. Does it allow for a conversation area (think two chairs with an accent table between), a reading nook, or a small desk and chair placed in a way that doesn't block foot traffic?

Invest in Furniture and Décor with Built-In Flexibility

When a flex space transitions from one function to another, there's a change in items at hand: whatever you needed to perform function #1 is cleared and put away so that function #2 can happen. It's difficult to use a space for multiple purposes if that space is cluttered or not set up for smooth transitions.

Fortunately, there are clever ways to address any flex space setup. Here are a few ideas:

Quick transitions. A wheeled cart (find one that complements your décor) can hold bottles and bar accessories, toys and art supplies, correspondence needs and a few file folders — whatever you need to outfit the space for its next use.

Out-of-sight storage. Baskets of all sizes with lids are a fast way to retrieve at-home workout equipment, toys, computer accessories, pet paraphernalia, and more. The baskets can go anywhere: in a corner, on a shelf, inside a cabinet or closet. Ottomans and benches with built-in storage also increase seating options.

Convertible and moveable pieces. There are so many options here. Nesting tables can pull out to provide instant desk or play surfaces. Room dividers are available in every possible style and material, so you can find one to coordinate with your décor. And there are plenty of coffee tables that convert to desks, with the flat surface rising to support a laptop and revealing a storage area beneath.

Creating a "Swiss Army home" comes down to what's most important to you and your family. And the great news is that it never has to stop evolving. As your wants and needs change, you can always take time out to think about your spaces, try some new ideas, and keep the ones that work.

Craving that "staycation" feeling from your home every day? Don't miss this recent blog post.