Double-duty furniture for an expanding family

By Jennifer Mikrut

Dresser-turned-kitchen island

If you are adding more bodies to your home or simply want to make the most of the space you already have, having the right type of furniture is key. The secret to more space is to invest in pieces that do double duty.

Look around at the furniture you already have: Can anything be swapped out for more functional items?

For example, a dresser is a great multitasking piece that holds more than just clothes. Place one in the dining room for everything from dishes and silverware to small tools and cleaning products. If you have a flat screen T.V., consider a dresser instead of a media stand for movies and photo albums.

Trade a side table in the living room with a smaller dresser, or use one in the foyer to hold hats, gloves and umbrellas.

You can even retrofit and old dresser and use it as a kitchen island.

Cushioned storage ottomans also are excellent multi-use pieces that can be used all over the house.

Round storage ottoman

Add a cluster of four in the living room instead of a large coffee table. Blankets, video games and remotes can be stowed inside for easy access.

When needed, they can be used for extra seats at the dining room table. Place them in kids rooms instead of a large toy box and your children can move them around easily during playtime.

When kids or teenagers are faced with sharing a room, it can be a source of stress for everyone. To ease some of the inevitable arguing, use a storage system or bookshelf that can act as a room divider. This gives them a sense of separation while keeping their toys, books and games off the floor and well organized.

Book shelf used also as wall divider

If the room is small, use bunk beds or even a dorm-style loft bed to maximize floor space. Even a simple curtain to separate two twin beds is an easy fix that allows for the feeling of privacy.

If you have to give up your extra bedroom-turned-home-office, yet you still need a place to write bills or sort mail, consider a wall-mounted desk that folds out to a small workspace.

This can hang anywhere in the home but may work best in the kitchen or dining area.

Paint the front of the cabinet with chalkboard paint and now you have a message center for everyone to use.

Closets can make good office space.

If you work from home and need a decent amount of desk space and storage, think about converting a closet into an office. Yes, you are giving up precious closet space, but it might be easier to relocate coats and boots than an entire desktop computer and loads of paperwork.

Take advantage of vertical space by removing the curtain rod and adding shelves all the way up to the ceiling. The bonus here is that you can shut the doors and keep your private work out of sight.

In homes where college grads or in-laws are being welcomed back, it is important to give them a sense of independence.

Create a hotel-style kitchenette in their room by adding a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker and space for food storage. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but this small gesture can make a big difference to someone who is used to living on their own.

A T.V. and DVD player is also a must for this age group as they may not want to give up their viewing habits on specific nights of the week.

A fold-out desk

Opening your home to family or friends can be a difficult yet rewarding experience. Keep things calm by getting everything moved, decluttered and organized before they move in. This will alleviate tension and create a more harmonious home for everyone to enjoy.

Jenny (Christensen) Mikrut is a Greenville native and currently resides on the north side of Grand Rapids with her husband and two children.  When she isn’t decorating her own house, Jenny works for Ashley Cole Interior Design and writes the home design blog

  1. Amanda Leitch-Lee says
    04 Feb 13 at 12:39pm

    Wonderful ideas. It gives me inspiration!

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