March 15, 2012

how to create a dual function space

With a little creativity, certain rooms can function well in more than one capacity!  Remember Bee Cottage, the fantastic feature in House Beautiful where Frances Shultz renovated the most charming cottage?  Her lovely dining room doubles as a library for her books.  The dining table can easily serve as a desk, and bookshelves store treasured volumes and dishes.  The decorative accessories are cohesive — notice how she continued the prints above the tall bookshelves — and the room works for how she lives.

While I don’t recommend combining breakables on low open shelving with young toddlers (can you say, disaster waiting to happen??), you could easily have a casual breakfast room or keeping room multi-task as a playroom.  Pack the dishes away, store bins on the shelves … and you are good to go!

It’s no problem if you already have a regular-sized bed and would prefer the room be “more” bedroom and “less” office.  Multi-tasking furniture pieces fit the bill and can be found at just about every price point.  Take Ballard DesignsVoltaire Chest.  Closed, it looks like a clipped corner chest of drawers — perfect for an accent piece or even a nightstand.  Once you’ve flipped the top, however, you find four drawers, cord management and plenty of room for a laptop.

I recently tucked this piece into an unused corner of a family room.  When company comes over, Mom can close the top and display pretty accessories — but for everyday use, she can check her email or pay bills while her twins +1 play or watch television.  Art hangs on the wall above the chest, and it creates a beautiful, functional moment in an otherwise wasted space.

The Hallings Secretary by Thomas O’Brien for Hickory Chair is another one of my favorite pieces — partly because it is gorgeous and partly because you can create a functional office space in just about any room.  One word of advice:  If possible, try to keep the home office out of the master bedroom.  The master bedroom should really function as a sanctuary … a place of peace and respite.  It can be hard to relax, much less sleep, if a stack of paperwork is staring you in the face!

Really, the list goes on and on.  Sunrooms make wonderful playrooms.  Add a cushion to IKEA’s Trofast system and you have a window seat and storage in one.  And I think I’ve told you that the Baker sideboard in my own living room acts as toy and DVD storage.

What’s your favorite way to multi-task?  Please don’t tell me you do squats while you brush your teeth.

Product photos from Ballard Designs and Hickory Chair.  


  • Frances Schultz
    Mar. 15, 2012
    Traci, hi and thanks for the shout-out! Always great to hear from a fellow Tarheel, too. Your blog is beautiful, and I'm happy to discover it - and subscribe! ... And oooh, yes, that Thomas O'Brien secretary is fab. ... Btw, I'm still kinda new at blogging and would like your advice. Frances is the name of my blog and "Celebrating beauty etc." is the "tag line." But sounds like you thought "Celebrating etc" was the title. Maybe I am confusing the issue. Should I change it?... Thanks again so much, Frances
  • diane
    Mar. 15, 2012
    I have always loved that secretary from Hickory Chair but the Ballard piece is an affordable alternative. I must say, living in southern california, sleeping in a bed with a stack of books above my head is a bit scary in earthquake country but the concept is a good one.
  • Lisa Mende
    Mar. 15, 2012
    I do think it is all about creating functional multipurpose spaces. This was a great post!
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  • Tawna Allred
    Mar. 16, 2012
    I love that Hallings Secretary! Maybe one day......great post! Have a lovely day :) Tawna
  • Nancy
    Mar. 20, 2012
    love the Hallings Secretary... and that pullout bookcase bed by Bunny cool. Thanks for sharing! Nancy Powellbrowerhome
  • Sherri Cassara
    Mar. 21, 2012
    That Hallings secretary is one of my all time favorites too! I don't do squats while I brush my teeth but I do get a lot of other things done while I brush - put stuff away, pack my briefcase, hahaha (and eat breakfast in the car - oh so bad!).

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