Washing clothes in the bedroom. Sending email from the laundry room.
Busy Americans are demanding more from each room in the house, and spaces designed for multiple functions are popping up all over floor plans, design blogs and magazine spreads.
“People multitask all the time. There is a definite correlation and carry-over in the home,” says Wendy Danziger, owner of Danziger Design in Bethesda, Md. She has helped clients create rooms for eating and watching television; housing guests and working from home; sleeping and doing laundry.
Furniture manufacturers, too, are helping to make every square inch count, says Pat Bowling, spokeswoman for the American Home Furnishings Alliance in High Point, N.C. Modern pieces include end tables that double as file cabinets, coffee tables with adjustable heights to accommodate working at a computer or eating, and chests with docking stations for electronics.
The portability of laptops, tablets and other devices means you don’t need a dedicated home office to work at home. People can — and do — use electronics in the family room, bedroom and kitchen.
“Today’s furniture is multitasking furniture that can help you stay organized, stay connected and keep clutter at bay,” says Kim Shaver of Hooker Furniture in Martinsville, Va. “In versatile styles and silhouettes, these pieces fit any room — from the kitchen to the bedroom and from the family room to the entry hall or foyer — and provide multiple functions in each room.”
Danziger says a console table with hinged leaves is a good option for a TV room that sometimes needs to become a dining room: When guests come for dinner, just slide the table away from the wall under the television and extend the leaves to create seating for up to six people.
Nesting tables — stacking tables of different sizes — also help increase the functionality of a space, she says. She often puts them on wheels so they can easily be rolled to another area of the room for another use.
She has worked with retirees downsizing to a smaller home and with young professionals squeezed into urban apartments.
“Once home offices were the rage,” she says. Now, “it is not unusual to see living spaces where people eat, sleep, work and play games just for the sake of living in a city where one can walk to everything, including their office.”
Frank Pitman of Frank Pitman Designs in Orange County, Calif., also has seen the trend. “There’s a lot of dual-purpose space happening,” he says.
He has had a growing number of clients putting laundry facilities in their bedroom closets. “They are already storing the clothing there. Why not wash the clothing right there?” he says.
Murphy beds, which are stored vertically in a cabinet along a wall, or murphy desks, which slide out from a wall, are a way to keep a space’s other function hidden.
Often the need to get more use out of a space arises when an elderly parent joins the household, a grown child returns home or a young family hires a live-in nanny, says Amy Albert, editor of Custom Home Magazine in Washington, D.C.
“Multiple generations needs multi-functioning space,” she says.
Photos: Drop-Leaf Console, $599 at Pottery Barn; Sauder Carson Forge Lift Top Coffee Table, $160 at wayfair.com; Wildon Home Adams Fold Out Convertible Writing Desk, $140 at wayfair.com; TPS Mint File Cabinet, $159 at CB2; Threshold Round Tufted Storage Ottoman, $56 at Target