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Multi-purpose use of space and furnishings extends home design

September 03, 2013

Once viewed as a space-saver for people who live in small apartments, double-duty furniture is also becoming a help in homes that have outgrown their family's needs. Soon, its versatility may make a household classic, along with stainless steel appliances and traditional oak plank floors like those in Anderson's Sugar House collection.

Hardwood FloorsOnce viewed as a space-saver for people who live in small apartments, double-duty furniture is also becoming a help in homes that have outgrown their family's needs. Soon, its versatility may make a household classic, along with stainless steel appliances and traditional oak plank floors like those in Anderson's Sugar House collection.

For many years, Canadian furniture store owner Tara Bushby has specialized in multi-purpose furnishings. For instance, she recommends using a movable, tall bookshelf to serve as a room divider in a small space. Such movable "walls" are especially effective in the room design for a studio apartment.

"You can have guests over but not have to change the way you live - have it work as a fully functioning office and, without moving a book, switch it around to create a bedroom," Bushby explained to the Vancouver Sun.

Making the most of space
In every home, there are are furnishings that can be moved around to suit different needs and permanent features that can withstand any shift in decor. More than ever, designers are advising their clients to make the most of their home's footprint by utilizing furniture that serves dual purposes.

Interior designer Danielle Lareau, of Giraffe Design in Vancouver, Canada, suggested that home decorators find a sofa that's deep enough to double as a bed and a coffee table that can be raised to dining table height. In cases when one of the rooms in the home isn't used much, it should be repurposed for another activity.

"It's about not letting furniture take over a space that could be better used for something you do more often," Lareau told the newspaper.

Look for the unexpected
Vancouver designer Alda Pereira has used the double-duty concept in her three-story townhouse. A red lacquer Japanese sculptural piece is not only beautiful but also has compartments for Pereira to store items from linens to paperwork.

She agrees with Lareau's philosophy of using whole spaces for two purposes within home design. Her hallway for instance, doubles as a gallery for artwork and collectibles.

Another unexpected use of an item is having a bamboo window shade function as a screen within small living quarters. Bamboo shades are made of woven woods that can be coordinated with wood floors and furnishings. The weave also allows light to filter into areas on both sides, which provides the feeling of an open airy space.