Have you ever put a bed in a room purely because it was marked ‘bedroom’ on your official floor plans? Many of us can start feeling boxed in by the official names of the rooms in our houses, but there are some rooms that don’t have to follow the rules. Breaking those rules could be the best thing for your house and, ultimately, your purse strings.

Naturally, throughout the lifespan of your house, there will be changes in fashion and in lifestyle choices, both of which will affect the way different rooms are used and the furniture you place inside.

Over time, kitchens have become the centre of the house, with more and more families installing TVs and designing the room to be conducive to eating meals on the spot. As a result, dining rooms are left empty until Christmas or the occasional birthday celebration.

A similar thing is happening to garages, with more people using that space for storage or simply leaving it empty, while their car sits in the driveway, ready to transport them in their busy, on-the-go lifestyle.

If you have found yourself in a similar position, with a room or two that aren’t being used effectively, there is some good news! Many people opt to simply re-purpose that space into something that can be used regularly, such as a home office, home gym, craft studio, playroom or den. Others may set up a room as an interior granny flat for their older children to gain some independence. Still others may choose to turn their single dwelling into a duplex.

A duplex is simply a residential building divided into two separate apartments, each with their own facilities. There are two kinds of duplexes. One is two separate units, side by side and usually sharing a common wall; the other is two living spaces on top of each other, one at ground level and another situated above. Many people opt for this second option as their families grow up. Two-storey houses can easily be converted into independent dwellings, one above and one below, with their own equal facilities and entrance points.

With benefits similar to a granny flat, many families with older children are finding duplex living extremely convenient when it comes to setting children up with independence while still keeping them close and allowing them to save money. It is also common to use duplex living for older relatives who need to be closer for health reasons. Some owners rent out both apartments while others live in one and rent out the other to create another steady income for themselves.

Unlike a granny flat, which has to be sold with the main property, a duplex can be sold as two separate apartments to two different owners if need be, potentially increasing the pool of potential buyers.

As with any project, converting your single dwelling into a duplex means complying to local council requirements. A granny flat uses much of the infrastructure that already exists on the property, but duplex dwellings, while attached to each other, need separate infrastructure, as if they were two different houses.

We know how important it is to be flexible and create spaces you love, so speak to an architect to see what’s possible for your unused space. If you’re ready for a duplex, a professional knowledgeable in that area can help you with your designs and getting approval from your local council.