Have a Spare Room? We Found 10 Simple Ways to Make and Save Money With It

interior of bedroom for rent in Amsterdam
Photo courtesy of Airbnb
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Got an extra bedroom you suddenly need to fill?

Maybe the kids moved out, you lost a roommate you don’t want to replace, or you just wanted to live in this building — and two-bedrooms were the only units available.

Don’t let it become the dreaded storeroom! You don’t need that much extra junk you never touch. Plus, it’s ugly, and who wants that?

Instead, try these simple and thrifty ways to use your spare room that could make or save you money in the long run (or at least justify the extra $200 you pay in rent).

1. Share it With Travelers

interior of bedroom for rent in Berlin
Photo courtesy of Airbnb

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

Taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
  • Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

2. Turn It into a Game Room

board game pieces on a table
Jaciel Melnik/Unsplash

No need to invest in old Pac-Man games or an air-hockey table to turn this room into a fun, relaxing place to hang out. Think: board games.

They’re totally cool again (I think), because they’re, like, totally vintage and analog.

Pull a bookshelf into the room and fill it with your favorite games and puzzles. You can find them pretty cheap at thrift stores — just check that all the pieces are there.

Throw down a handmade rug and spritz up the room with other whimsical DIY decor.

Shop local thrift stores and curbs for a comfy loveseat or chairs, and leave plenty of space for charades!

3. Make It a Home Office

home office setup
Elsa Noblet/Unsplash

Do you work from home, freelance or run a side hustle? Build yourself a home office.

For a home office to be tax-deduction-friendly, it has to be a space dedicated to your work. Your kitchen table doesn’t cut it, so put your spare room to good use.

The best way to design a home office on a budget? Only buy what you need. Don’t get lost in Instagram photos of blinged-out spaces and assume you need a convertible treadmill-standing desk, everything The Container Store sells and an assortment of succulents.

Instead, buy furniture, tools, devices and accessories as you realize you need them to get through the work day.

And start cheap, especially if your business is brand new. You can find old desks, chairs and filing cabinets at the thrift store. Upgrade when your business calls for it.

4. Turn It into an Art Room

Painter brushes in studio
AlexD75/Getty Images

Do you like to sew, craft, paint or play music? Your spare room can be a great place to contain your hobby — you know, to keep it from taking over the rest of the house.

(Not that everyone in the house doesn’t love your hobby. We just like it tidy…)

A few small, affordable touches can improve the acoustics in a room you want to use to play or produce music, according to Instructables. Sound diffusers and absorbers can even add a decorative touch!

For sewing, crafting or painting, again I recommend perusing the thrift store — or even digging old tables out of the garage. You want furniture that can stand a few scratches or paint spills, so you can focus on your creations.

If you want to blend style with utility in this room, try getting crafty. If you can find pallets, try these projects to make shabby-chic furniture on the cheap. Or peruse Craigslist for freebies you can upcycle with a little paint and time.

5. Create a Home Theater on a Budget

Home theater room
JodiJacobson/Getty Images

When I was growing up in a small town, “home theater” was the epitome of luxury.

If a friend had one in their home, it meant their parents were doing well. They had to buy a big-screen TV and fancy chairs — plus that DVD player and the collection of DVDs!

Now, it’s a lot simpler. You can watch movies on your laptop or phone for free or for an affordable monthly subscription.

But that’s not the best look if you want company.

Turn your empty room into a home theater and impress the pants off guests — without the big-screen expense.

Grab a shoebox, and pick up a $1 magnifying glass at the dollar store, and create your own shoebox projector (details here under No. 10).

Keep one wall clear of furniture, and paint it white or hang a white sheet to use as your projector screen. Throw in a comfy couch and a tray to hold drinks and popcorn, and you’re set!

6. Set up a Home Gym

Jennifer Bishop Spends the day during various workouts December 14th, 2017.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

You might have an old treadmill holding dusty coats in your spare room, but that doesn’t count.

To set up a home gym — and save money on that monthly membership — start by clearing your clutter. You don’t want a pile of clothes in the corner distracting you when you’re trying to work your quads or find your qi.

If you want it to be a personal yoga studio, get a nice mat and paint the walls a soothing color. (Might we suggest purple?)

For a home gym, follow this guide to get set up for just $100.

7. Give Yourself a Super-Fancy Walk-in Closet

walk in closet
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

This one sounds pretty decadent — that’s certainly what I thought when my colleagues suggested it. But a walk-in closet doesn’t have to be just racks of clothes and walls of shoes no one should own.

Deck out some shelves with crates and boxes that don’t look like they’ve been melting in an attic for a decade. If you don’t want to invest in an armoire or something like it to store your clothes, buy cheap racks and hide them behind a decorative room divider.

8. Use It as a Meditation or Contemplation Room

Young woman practicing yoga in a sunny room
martinwimmer/Getty Images

This one is by far the simplest — and probably cheapest — to create. Just clear the room of clutter, paint the walls a comfy color, and hang curtains that keep the light and noise of the neighborhood from harshing your vibe.

Include a yoga mat, comfy pillow or chair to park yourself on while you meditate, pray or contemplate life (or whatever’s on your mind).

New to mindfulness? Follow these five steps to clear your head and de-stress in your new space.

9. Transform It Into a Playroom for Nieces, Nephews or Grandkids

cheerful boys, running in a circles around wigwam tent in their playroom
AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

A playroom is similar to a game room, but it’s for visits from the kiddos instead of adult game night.

If you have nieces and nephews or grandkids that visit often, create a space just for them. Like the game room idea, you can achieve this without spending a ton of money. Thrift stores are your friend.

If the room is carpeted, cover it with a rug you don’t mind seeing roughed up. Stock the room with dress-up clothes, age-appropriate (and safe) board games, dolls, kiddie craft supplies or even a lab setup for simple science experiments.

10. Man Cave or She Shed

Mature man fixing mancave sign on wooden door.
Portra/Getty Images

If you’re part of a couple and share a home with your partner, you know we all need time to ourselves, sometimes.

Turn your unused room into a sanctuary where one of you — or either of you — can retreat when you need “me time.” I think we used to call this kind of space a “man cave”… but the ladies need one, too! Make a “she shed.”

Stick some of your favorite things in the room: a bookshelf and a comfy chair; a big-screen TV and a collection of Blu-rays; a sewing table, workbench, mini-fridge or antique record player. It’s up to you.

Remember: This space is just for you, so don’t worry about fancy furniture or decor that would impress guests. That overstuffed and worn-in Craigslist freebie might do the trick.

See Also >> How to Make Money at Home

Dana Sitar ([email protected]) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.