Flexible Layout

What is a flexible layout?

Updated March 8, 2022

A flexible layout is a floor plan that provides several options in how space is used. Sometimes referred to as a convertible layout, flexible layouts are most common in apartments. Tenants or owners can install a temporary or pressurized wall, ideal for converting a dining room or borrowing space from a living room to create a bedroom, office or even a fitness area. Bookshelves, wall units and space dividers––walls that do not extend up to the ceiling––are other options for conceiving a new room.

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Contemporary architecture

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(Note: Many cities have rules about so-called temporary walls, and require a minimum amount of space, ventilation, egress and windows, so check your building management or an architect or contractor.)

Open floor plans allow for flexible layouts in how a space is used. Photo: Francesca Tosolini / Unsplash

Some houses also offer multipurpose spaces, bonus rooms, and floor plans that a homeowner could easily reconfigure. Depending on a home’s footprint and accessibility, the ability to add a room or several rooms to gain more space for a growing family could also be more straightforward with a flexible layout. 

Some examples:

  • Alcove Studio

A studio is a one-room flat, and an alcove studio is an additional space, usually a sleeping area, off to the side of the main room. This nook is likely an open section of the apartment, but occasionally a wall is built to provide privacy. The area often can accommodate a twin bed, double bed, or daybed, allowing the main space to be a living and dining area.

  • Junior One Bedroom

Like an alcove studio, a Junior One has an extra room, sometimes with a door and sometimes without. That bonus space also can be used as a walk-in closet instead of a bedroom. 

  • Junior 4

The “4” in this flexible layout signifies four rooms in a flat. Usually, this apartment has a living room, bedroom, kitchen and a dining alcove that can be converted to a second bedroom. The tenant or owner will commonly build a wall to enclose the space if the floor plan permits. The bonus area in a Junior 4 can also be an office. This extra room may or may not have a window.

  • Flex Space

Also called a flex room, a flex space is that extra room in the home, which could function as a nursery, office, library, game room, sewing room or whatever the homeowner needs. The beauty of a flex space is that the purpose can evolve over the life of the home; as one’s circumstances change, so can the room.

  • Loft 

The wide-open square footage of loft space––be it a converted warehouse or a new construction loft––offers one of the most practical options for a flexible layout. One can divide the floor area to suit lifestyle, taste and furnishings. Often lofts remain open with few partitions, and the only walls constructed are for private spaces: bedrooms, closets, dressing areas and bathrooms. 

  • Flexible House Design

A flexible floor plan enables expansion later on if desired. When designing a home’s layout, considering the need for more space in the future will allow the addition of a bedroom, bathroom, playroom, et cetera, for a growing family.

Depending on a house’s size, style, lot dimensions, et cetera, additions can be built, usually at the rear of the structure or by going up and outfitting the attic space. An unfinished basement can also add square footage and be configured to house a recreation room or home office and bathroom, or a guest suite.