In our quest to live smaller, the idea of "multipurpose" goes a long way. When possessions perform more than one function, we have need for fewer of them. In our homes, multipurpose furnishings save space, which allows us to choose smaller, more efficient dwellings.

Also known as modular furniture, multipurpose furnishings can: expand or shrink depending on needs, serve two purposes at once, or transform seamlessly from one function to another. Listed below are five examples of awesome double-duty furnishings. Each allows you to conserve space without sacrificing a much-needed piece of furniture. Living in a small, efficient space doesn't have to mean eating every meal on your knees, or owning only one chair. Have your own favorite piece of multipurpose furniture? Tell us about it in the comments!

Storage bed

headboard with storage

We all need a place to sleep, so when it comes to furnishing a small space, the bed is pretty non-negotiable. But who says your bed can't be more than a soft place to lay your head? Storage beds are clever designs that let you take advantage of the wasted space under, beside and behind your bed. Lots of bed frames feature shelves or drawers, but most also come with big price tags. If you're looking for a DIY option, check out Inhabitat's guide to making your own storage bed using a repurposed IKEA bookcase.

Stool, side table and magazine rackstorage stool

Ample seating is hard to build into small spaces, especially because it's needed only when there's company. This Collecteur stool/table/magazine rack from Christian Lessing is the perfect double-duty accent piece because it can perform different functions if you're entertaining or enjoying much-needed alone time. Use it as an ottoman or side table when you're lounging or offer it as a comfy stool when friends are present.

Ladder lifesaverladder pot rack

Think ladders belong in the tool shed? Think again. A vintage wooden ladder is an incredibly versatile material, perfect for upcycling into a bevy of home furnishing ideas. As Scraphacker points out in this awesome DIY post, a ladder can be repurposed into a bookshelf, shoe rack, shelving, or a suspended rack for your kitchen pots and pans (like the one above, from Etsy). Look for used wooden ladders at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore or other used home goods outlet. Ladder furnishings are perfect for small spaces because they don't take up a lot of horizontal floor space, and are easy to move.



Fresh off the DIY practicality of repurposing a ladder, we present the mind-boggling DoubleSpace kitchenette by Vestal Design. Inspired by the fact that no one cooks sitting down, Vestal decided there's no reason your chair can't also be your stove. DoubleSpace is a roomy chair that converts easily into a countertop with two electric burners when it's time for dinner. This is (clearly) conceptual and probably pricey, if you're looking for double-duty inspiration, this is it.

stackable shelvesRecycled blue jean stacking shelves

When we were little kids and had to share a room, my sister and I loved to rearrange our bedroom furniture. Something about changing the position of our desks and (much to my mom's dismay) bunk beds made us feel like we were living in a completely different room. If you too are a rearranger, these cute upcycled stacking shelves are the perfect weekend project. Using some old pants and a small amount of wood, Chilean designer Jean V. creates three small tables that can be stacked into shelving, partially stacked into a unique bedside table, or spread in a single layer for a coffee table. Only caveat: The instructions are in Spanish.

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Beth Buczynski is a freelance writer from Colorado who likes coworking, swapping, and meeting new friends through Airbnb. She wrote this post for sharing site Yerdle.

Click for photo credits

Headboard: IKEA

Ladder: CajunCountryFinds/Etsy

Storage stool: Christian Lessing

Kitchenette: Vestal Design

Stacking tables: jean v/instructables

Multipurpose furniture saves precious space
Furnishings that pull double or triple duty really earn their keep.