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The bonus room is redefining home design.

Move over living rooms: the bonus room is redefining home design

The bonus room shows off the circular concept in this estate homes by Calbridge in Artesia.

The bonus room shows off the circular concept in this estate homes by Calbridge in Artesia.

Supplied / Calgary Herald

Much like technology, home design targeted at the mass consumer really didn’t evolve until the end of the last century.

And with its metaphorposis came new and interesting room configurations, architectural premises and design trends.


Case in point: the bonus room.


“It was around the late ’90s that bonus rooms really started to become a major feature with most of the builders in Calgary. Before then, they really didn’t exist,” says Peter Donovan, area sales manager for Calbridge Homes in the country estates community of Artesia at Heritage Pointe.


Now, almost 20 years later, buyers would be hard pressed to find a two-storey home plan without a bonus room. “They’ve really become the upstairs living room,” says Donovan.


And, of course with Calgary’s increasingly youthful population — the 2011 census determined the average median age in Calgary to be 36.4 years of age — and with 50 per cent of those polled raising kids in some way or another, the bonus room is an absolute must.


“For families it is really a necessity,” says Christopher Millner, sales associate at Albi Homes, noting that for the most part, the bonus room becomes the kids’ domain — a place to hang out and watch TV or game and a strategic spot to store toys, out of sight of the main floor adult entertaining spaces.


But bonus rooms aren’t just about functionality, they have also become one of the central defining characteristics of a home.


“It’s about lifestyle. The bonus room is one of the most used rooms in the home next to the kitchen and people are spending a lot of time on the design,” says Millner.


“It’s becoming a real priority,” he adds, noting that recently some buyers reconfigured an Albi home design completely around the bonus room.


Certainly bonus room location is tantamount: it sets the tone for the way that the family moves through the home.


Traditionally, bonus rooms have been placed at the front of the home or the back of the home (usually over the attached garage), creating a separate den-like area for the family with the bedrooms embracing the majority of the second floor plan.


But recently, several designs place the bonus room in the middle of the plan — a room that now acts as a physical division between the children’s wing and the owners’ suite. It’s a design that has been received with tremendous success. Some home designs even place the bonus room as a loft feature in the master suite.


Buyers are choosing to personalize their bonus rooms with sunken floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings and cosy fireplaces.


And as buyers become more savvy, builders are raising the architectural bar.


Take for example Calbridge’s Foothills Lottery Show Home in Artesia. The home’s classic Tudor facade belies the modernistic interior design edge prevalent in its interior spaces. And the second floor, show-stopping bonus room with its curvilinear pattern is no exception.


The round room with its curved walls takes centre stage in the middle of the upstairs floor plan. The bedrooms flow like spokes on a wheel from the central circular living space, while the hallways echo the curved lines of the walls. The room takes advantage of the sun and the lot on which it is built and plays on the architectural curvature in the main floor kitchen.


Donovan says the response on the room’s design has been mixed. “People absolutely love it or think that it is just a little over the top.”


But regardless of the design, the basic premise of the bonus room is to facilitate ease of movement, providing extra space for family members to hang out, while at the same time offering a place to regroup and embrace some separateness and privacy from one another.


“It’s really a place to take the pressure off of the lower floors,” says Donovan, adding that placement is all about how you move through the home and taking into consideration all of the details from how long you are planning to live in the home to pets and musical instruments.


He would know — he and his wife are in the process of building a new Calbridge home in Legacy, and three of his four kids, who are in their 20s, are boomeranging back home.


“My kids and my wife are yoga instructors, so the bonus room in our home will definitely be multipurpose. We are putting felt on the furniture so that it can be moved out of the way so everyone can do yoga,” he says with a laugh.


But the architectural wow factor isn’t just reserved for suburban designs. Inner-city homes on infill-sized lots have joined the frenzy, embracing the bonus room concept, but taking it to new heights with placement on the third-storey, often sporting commanding city views and a spacious outdoor terrace.


For Simon and Nicole Battistella, owners of Battistella Developments, creating the third-storey space with wet bar, fireplace, floor-to-ceiling glass-sheathed walls and an outdoor deck with hot tub was one of the starting points for their inner-city infill home design located on the ridge in Ramsay.


“Everything else just flowed from there,” says Simon, adding that it is the couple’s favourite spot to hang out.


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