"Bachelor's Chair" by WoodworkersWorkshop®

As homeowners flee from bloated McMansions for more efficient downsized abodes and urbanites continue to make the best of limited space through smart design choices, interest in multifunctional and transformative furniture has soared. Because really, who needs a boring old coffee table when you get a coffee table that’s also a shredder? Or what about a coffee table/gadget charger/indoor planter?

Sure, space-saving furniture with multiple functions may seem like a newfangled concept and many multipurpose designs, like the conceptual ones mentioned above, are decidedly on the futuristic side. But remember, although the idea of “quality over quantity” was muted for a couple of excess-crazy decades, it never really went away.

Core77 recently unearthed a piece of space-saving, transformative furniture from yesteryear, the 18th century to be exact, and although I can’t imagine it regaining widespread popularity or appearing in next fall’s DWR catalog, it’s certainly nifty. It’s called a Bachelor’s Chair — a chair, stepstool and ironing board combo — and apparently in the 1700s it was a must-have in the cramped homes of unhitched gentlemen.

Writes Core77, “It's weird to think there was an 18th century chair designed specifically for unmarried men, but then again, unmarried men in the 18th century were themselves considered weird.”

I have to wonder how many single men in the 1700s and 1800s were big on wearing perfectly pressed shirts, but it’s fun to think about these chair/ironing board/stepstools being put to use by their foppish owners in the drafty attic rooms known as 18th century bachelor pads.

Antique Bachelor Chairs don’t seem all that easy to come by, although Woodworker’s Woodshop sells plans for one (pictured above) that definitely has that old-timey vibe (plus hearts for lovelorn single dudes). And over at Grandpa’s Crafts, there’s a folksy reproduction of a similar item called the Jefferson Chair or IBSSL (ironing board, step-stool, ladder). It’s designed by North Carolina craftsman and sells for $179. Grandpa’s Crafts points out that the IBSSL is perfect for RV’ers and that “another unique use is as a sideboard for your cookies, cakes, pies and especially during the holiday season.” Lovely.

And then, there’s Danish designer Karsten Eriksen’s modern take on the Bachelor’s Chair, also featured over at Core77. Called "The Ironing Chair," the prototype design (pictured above) is expectedly sleek with a “clean Scandinavian look" and as Eriksen explains on his Twitter account is "ideal especially for students & those who loathe clutter, love design." The chair is also sans the handy-dandy step-stool element found in the original Bachelor’s Chair. Why? Core77 takes a guess: "Well, Eriksen's Danish — those guys are friggin' tall.”

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Want to save space? Look to the 18th century for ideas
"Bachelor's Chair" by WoodworkersWorkshop® is the epitome of transformative furniture — and it's making a comeback.