How to create multi-function rooms in your home

Space was the final frontier in Star Trek, but it can sometimes be the first limiter when you’re doing the House Trek.

Unless you’re rich and single, and have no pets or visitors, space can be an issue when you’re buying a home.

The question is this: how do you fit all the people, all their activities and all their stuff into the house you’ve bought? And the answer is... to multi-function your rooms and furniture. 

TW West Mids_The Orchards_PA22_ Belford_lounge  dining (1)Now there are some mad multi-function options out there, such as the Post-it Table – a tabletop that’s basically a giant stack of Post-it notes – or the radiator chair (we promise we’re not making this up) which not only heats your house, but also scorches your bum.

But there are sensible multi-function solutions around too that can help you make the most of your living space. Here is our top 9:

1. The sofa bed

The father/mother of all multi-functioning furniture. But please – and we speak from experience here – never buy this over the internet, unless you’ve used a similar model.

You need to see in real life how big it is, because a clever photograph can make a folded mat look like a sofa fit for a king.

You also need to understand how it converts from sofa to bed and back again, and make absolutely sure it’s as ‘foolproof’ as it claims. And of course you need to sit / lie on it.

2. The breakfast bar

No room for a freestanding table in your kitchen? No problem – the breakfast bar only needs about 30cms of extra space (just enough to tuck your knees under). The rest of the ‘table’ is the cupboards / drawers it fits over.

In a more open-plan home it can also act as a room divider, so the kitchen is separated from the rest of the house, but the cook(s) can still chat to guests/children.

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3. Coffee table with storage

A living room can easily be the busiest room in the house, and therefore the most cluttersome. So why do people stick a teeny-weeny table in the middle of the room? Especially when the teeny-weeny table has no regular use, except as a place to put the remotes and a cup of coffee?

No, get a coffee table that’s also a storage solution with drawers / space underneath the surface. No need to thank us...

4. The Futon

The Japanese still use them a lot, and they live three years longer than us Brits, on average.

Anyway, the main reason to have a futon is it can be rolled up and stored away in a wardrobe when it’s not in use.

But here are two subsidiary reasons; they’re good for your back and – because you can’t fall off them – they’re good for your young children.

5. The dining table

If you’ve got a dining room, it may be this room – not a spare bedroom – that’s the best place for your office.

Research shows that the dining table is one of the least-used large pieces of furniture in the home. But a large table is just what every office needs. So why would you buy another one?

Once you’ve decided it’s a dining room / office for you, just make sure there’s enough space in the room to store your office supplies, including an empty drawer that is especially for the times (perhaps every Sunday) when you need to clear your desk so it can be used as a dining table again. Simple.

6. Toy storage

Why can’t the kids play in their bedroom? Because it’s smaller, it’s colder and you’re not there. So be grateful, because it won’t be long before they rarely leave their bedroom, except to go out.

But how do you deal with a living room / play room? Plastic storage boxes. Every night they put their stuff away in these plastic boxes, which can be different colours or numbered. And then the boxes slip behind the settee, where there’s often a natural bit of wasted space.

7. The wall bed

The third bed-related item in our top 10; this is the bed that spends two-thirds of its life vertically against a wall, looking like a wardrobe. Or, alternatively, the bottom of a bed.

It’s usually found in really small spaces, like one-room flats, and its advantage is you can free up a bed-sized space on the floor any time you’re not sleeping.

Not a cheap solution, bought and fitted, particularly if you want to disguise the bed’s, er, bed-ness when it’s against the wall, but a very effective one.

8. Under-bed storage

Why would you even buy a bed that hasn’t got drawers underneath? Oh, it’s cheaper. Yes, there’s that.

But four large drawers under a double bed can free up no end of space; especially if you’re using the bedroom as an office as well.

Warning: there may be drawers that you can’t easily get at, due to bedside tables etc. Keep rarely-used stuff in these – like the futon.

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9. Your garage

And finally, if you’ve got a garage, it’s the ultimate multi-purpose room: warehouse, toyshop, workshop and, of course, a place to put your car.

Storage space can be created on at least one wall, from top to bottom, and even in the rafters, if your garage has a pitched roof.

From a fold-down workbench to hanging storage bins from the ceiling, your garage can take a lot of the storage strain from your home. Use it wisely.