The Art of Multifunction(al Living).
Updated: Feb 25, 2022
For many of us in the UK, 'home' isn't always a large, four-bedroom house with separate rooms that function differently; for most of us, 'home' is a little place with barely enough space to swing your Granny by her ankles!
For many of us - especially those living in Cities - home is an apartment with no outside space; and you're pretty lucky if you have a separate bedroom, rather than being in a studio flat!
Of course, many of us were forced to stay home during the pandemic and many of us had to make a work-place within our homes in order to keep doing our jobs! Again, super lucky if you have a home office, but what if you just live in a tiny house, or a small apartment block? How can you possibly make use of such a small space? Well, you can!
With so many people being crammed into smaller spaces these days - and with a huge number of people having to get used to permanently working from home since Covid, multifunctional living has become somewhat of a 'new norm' in the design world. Interior Designers are facing more and more, the challenge of making their client's homes work for them on a multifaceted level.
And so, this blog is dedicated to Multifunctional Living.
I will take you through some of the scenarios we face when people need their home to not only be their home; I'll show you how you can make more rooms out of less space and I'll introduce you to some of the brilliant, multi-purpose furniture pieces there are to purchase, that will make your small home fulfil big ambitions!
Here we go...
Whether you live in a one-bedroom house with one reception room, an open plan apartment, a small studio flat, or student lodgings - multifunctional spaces can be created to help you live your best life - whatever it is you've got to work with!
Whether you're a city dweller, working from home, a country cottage owner, wanting to make more of your little rooms, or simply a mum, needing to get your teenagers out of your hair and into their own space, there is a solution for you.
Interior Designers are often challenged with having to make the most of smaller spaces and the pandemic has certainly made that more of a priority for people over the past year or so.
Lounge-diners, kitchen-diners, bedroom-studies, hallway-offices and dining-offices have long been rooms we have created within our homes, but with more and more people starting their own businesses, more people taking on house-shares and children staying home much further into their adult lives, we need our homes to function on even more levels than we ever needed them to before.
We need dining-libraries, bed-bathrooms, convertible-bedrooms, wellness-corners, reading-nook-snugs, play-room-areas, broken-plan, open-plan, multifunctional living homes and we need them now! And that's before we've even thought about a way to bring the outside, in when we don't have a garden!
So, let's look at some useful ideas and genius furniture solutions to help with all these needs!
Open Plan? Broken Plan!
Many new homes are being built in an open plan style. For those living in smaller, open plan spaces, this can prove a challenge if you need your home to function as more than just your home. And this is where zoning comes in.
Zoning is the art of separating an open plan space into smaller areas which function in their own way; it is the process of splitting one, large room into many different rooms, without building brick walls and closing the spaces in. For example, you create a dining area, just off your kitchen, or add a partition to the edge of your lounge, in order to create a more private bedroom. You could partition off part of your kitchen space, to make yourself a utility, or place a room divider in one corner to create a reading nook, or even use a bookcase to partition part of your lounge into a work space, like the photo above.
When zoning your interior, it's a good idea to create a sense of separation, so the different areas feel like separate spaces. You could do this with colour, or texture: perhaps keeping the overall scheme tied together, but using different materials. For example, in an industrial space, you could use concrete in the lounge, but clad the reading nook in wood and use a wooden partition; or you could use different kinds of flooring, which seamlessly transition as the room's function changes. You could even go bold and use a bright colour for your child's play area, making it stand out from the exposed brick in the dining room... there are plenty of options and it's all about what you love the most!
Modern, contemporary and Scandi styles are some of the best to use with open plan living; they are the least 'fussy' when it comes to furniture design and their simple lines allow for an uncluttered feel.
Lighting is also a great way to separate spaces. Using cosy, warm white lighting in a lounge, compared to using a cool / daylight hue in a working space will make all the difference to how you feel in that area and will help the different zones to meet the needs of those using them.
Broken Plan isn't too different from zoning, but it specifically uses other objects to break a space up, or to open two rooms into one. For example, placing a large bookcase in the middle of a lounge/diner, in order to make it feel more like two rooms, or knocking down the walls either side of a fireplace, so the fireplace becomes the only thing separating the spaces. Sometimes, building (or keeping) half-walls, or using glass partitions, like the photo opposite.
Broken plan living is great for larger open plan spaces; it can create more of a homely, cosy feel to, say, a huge converted loft; giving it more warmth and character.
There are plenty of ways you can create different areas within one space, without buying large furniture, or building partitions. Here are a few ways you can create separate areas in your home, from things you may already have (or, things that are easier to get hold of!):
Plants are essential items for our homes; not only do they help to improve our mental health and wellbeing, but they also help to clean the air around us. They also look beautiful, help to relax us and they make our homes feel even more homely!
You can create a division between spaces by lining up tall plants, to act as a screen, or you could hang plants from, or grow plants up a home-made frame, or clothes hanger, like this:
I love cork - and I love my cork wall! It allows me to hang all of my projects and work-related things to it, while still looking attractive. It makes use of a large space, without cluttering up my desk and it's really a work of art, all by itself. In a small home, you can use a cork wall to define the space where you work. Add a desk and a chair and you have an office! Easy!
Creating a window seat - especially if you live in a large, open space with large windows - is a great way to create a reading nook away from a main room; even better if you have a lovely view - it could double as a wellness 'corner'!
Using as much of the space within an alcove as is possible, is a great way to get the most of your space and/or create a space with it's own purpose. It could be an office space, a library, extra seating in a lounge or dining room, or it could be used as a dressing table in the bedroom. There are tons of options for alcoves!
There are so many options for multifunctional furniture these days, so you should be able to find something to meet your needs if you do a little research.
I've been doing some research for you and I have a huge list of things which impressed me; but I'll try not to include them all and will limit this to ten of my favourite products.
Here's what I found:
1. Coffee Table, by Daniel Pearlman
I love this! This amazing design from Daniel Pearlman is a coffee table, which houses it's own armchair and side table!
Perfect for smaller homes, that just don't have room for a permanent armchair in the lounge; ideal for home offices, where people visit, but the homeowner doesn't have a lot of office space; just brilliant!
2. Folding Table / Mirror - Porada
Folding tables which double as wall mirrors when not in use are a great way to save space - especially if you only ever use a dining table a few times a year!
Porada designed this sleek, contemporary style table and you wouldn't even know it was anything but a mirror when it's hanging on the wall! Clever!
3. Yaheetech Lift Table
This coffee table lifts up to allow you to use it as a desk, or dinner table. It's great for those who don't have the extra room for either - plus, it allows you to store things inside it, making it even more handy!
Ikea do a similar style.
4. Domus Chair - Andrea Mangano
This chair is great for children's rooms and reading nooks; it houses its own shelving unit, which can be taken out and placed separately.
Ideal for storing books, or homework!
It's also very attractive and was designed in a variety of colours!
5. 2 in 1 - Wenhan Zhang
This beautifully designed chair doubles as a shelf and side table. Created by Wenhan Zhang, 2 in 1 is an award winning design and would look right at home in any modern home, reception, waiting room, or library.
I love this chair.
6. "As if from Nowhere" Bookcase - Orla Reynolds
This bookcase is such an amazing way to save space , zone a room and get more out of one piece of furniture. It has various options for placement and it contains an entire dining set!
I'd love this in wood veneer and black for an industrial feel, but the colours would work well in a children's playroom, or a study area in the home, as well as in an apartment being used for dining by the homeowners.
7. Steel Modular Stool - Noon Studio
This handy, minimalistic little stool can do big things!
The more of them you put together, the bigger becomes the modular storage system you can create with it. Each stool has a handle to be able to carry it easily and can be assembled however you like them.
These would be great for office spaces, meeting rooms and homes alike. I love the industrial design and materials. I want these!
8. Sliding Wall with Dining Table - Jack Chen
How about this for incredible design?!
Architect, Jack Chen designed this amazing shoe-box apartment, along with several clever features for expanding the tiny space.
A fold away desk, mirrored cabinetry, a bathroom with a sliding privacy screen and this sliding wall which doubles as a dining table and neatly tucks away behind the kitchen shelves when it isn't in use.
So, so clever! Check out the link!
9. Duty Box Wall Storage - Krystalia
This handy, slimline storage unit doubles as a full-length wall mirror and would be perfect for any room in the house.
It's sleek and skinny, but it has plenty of space inside for storing things with nine shelves!
10. Adult Loft Beds
Loft beds are much more these days than the old 'Captain's Beds' I knew in my youth!
These days, design is much better than it used to be and loft beds can be built in all kinds of designs and configurations.
Creating a loft bed in a small home is one of the best ways to use all of the space in a room; build your bed up high and all of that floor space becomes available for wardrobes, storage, working space, lounging space... whatever it is you need and want in your home.
They're a brilliant idea and can really help to make a successful multifunctional living space!
There are so many other products and ideas out there which can be taken on by homeowners and interior designers who are looking to create the ideal multifunctional living spaces. Have a look on Google and Pinterest and you're sure to find plenty of things you love!
I hope this helps some of you to realise that things can be done in tiny homes and apartments to make more of the spaces you have; and I hope you enjoyed reading.
Thank you for being here!