I live in a home with two Away Rooms.  Away Rooms are not common parlance, but going forward, as family needs change and we strive to live more sustainably to combat climate change and reduce our carbon footprint, I expect we are going to hear a lot more about them.

My first exposure to the ‘Away Room’ concept

I first ran across the term “Away Room” while reading Sarah Susanka’s book The Not So Big House. Ms. Susanka is an American architect who rose to fame because of her distinctive approach to designing American homes. Her design focuses on quality and functionality, not size and square footage. Learn more on Sarah Susanka’s website.

An Away Room is a room that is separate from the main living space. The separation is created by distance and/or walls and doors. It allows the people in the home to separate physically, visually and/or aurally from the other occupants of the home.

Away Rooms can maximize use of space

The inclusion of multi-purpose Away Rooms that are well designed with versatile furnishings can reduce the number of rooms required to live comfortably, making smaller urban homes more functional. In our home, two Away Rooms meet the needs traditionally provided by a living room, music room, TV room, and spare bedroom, eliminating at least two rooms from our floor plan. For maximum use of space, with the exception of the bedrooms and bathroom, the living space of a house could even be compressed into a single ‘Together Room’ and a single ‘Away Room’.

My home has two Away Rooms

The two Away Rooms in my house are on different floors and provide different levels of aural privacy. The first Away Room is on the main floor. It allows individuals to experience physical and visual separation from the hub of the home, which is located on the opposite side of the same floor. In our case the hub is an open concept space including the kitchen and a large area with a multi-functional table, built in storage bench along one wall, and a good amount of floor space, making it a lovely place for the whole family or friends to gather. As you can imagine it gets lively, so it’s great to have a separate multi-use space available. As parents of young children, we also appreciate that some sound travels to this space so we can monitor what’s going on in the hub without being physically present.

The second Away Room is on the lower level. It’s location allows physical, visual and aural separation. This is where our TV is located. The separation permits quiet viewing and limits sound transmission. It is also furnished with a pull out couch and doubles as a guest room.

Have a look at our photo gallery to get a better sense of how this works.

Away Rooms are part of sustainable design

Finding ways to design and build smaller homes that continue to meet the needs of their occupants is one of the ways we can lower our greenhouse gas emissions and live more sustainably. Multi-purpose Away Rooms are one way this can be achieved, and should be considered when designing every new residential build.