Solve space limitation problems with a dual-purpose room

The popularity of open floor plans has allowed homeowners the freedom and flexibility to use a large open space for a variety of purposes. In contrast, limited space in closed off areas creates a challenge when a modest space needs to be used for more than one function. However, with a little imagination and creativity one room can become a dual-purpose room without sacrificing efficiency or appearance.

When the need for a dual-purpose room that includes a sleeping area arises, installing a wall bed is one option. A wall bed allows the bed to be folded vertically against the wall to create space for other activities during the waking hours. Typically referred to as Murphy Beds, wall beds were invented by William Lawrence Murphy in the late 19th century and patented in the early 20th century. According to Joseph Caputo writing for smithsonianmag.com, "William Murphy first patented his bed in 1911. His design placed a full-sized mattress on a metal frame that hid in a closet during the day and easily converted a dressing room, sleeping porch, or parlor into an extra bedroom at night." Not only does a wall bed create space in the room for other activities when stowed away, but also can be purchased as part of a furniture combo that furnishes the room for different functions other than sleeping.

For example, one style of wall bed includes a built-in desk that's hidden beneath the bed when the bed is pulled down into its sleeping position. In one smooth upward motion the room converts almost instantly from a bedroom to an office. In addition to the desk/bed combo is the option for attached storage units on one or either side of the bed. These storage areas also flank the desk when the bed is in its hidden position making it a partial or full wall unit depending on budget and space available. Of course, the more combination pieces added, the higher the price and increase in size.

If the dual-purpose room requires space for socializing rather than working, another wall bed combination includes a sofa rather than a desk. Like the bed/desk combo the sofa is hidden under the bed when the bed is pulled down into its sleep position. This furniture combination is also available with the storage units on either or both sides. If space is very limited due to low ceilings, wall beds that resemble a low cabinet rather than a wall unit when folded away are also available. Additionally, wall beds with lengthwise configuration are another option to accommodate limited ceiling height. These hidden beds fold out into the room from the side rather than from the head of the bed.

If extra space for a home office space is needed, almost any existing room can become a dual-purpose room with the addition of a foldable desk. Jessica Bennett writing for Better Homes & Gardens.com says, "Many foldable desks are freestanding pieces with a collapsible design, while other units attach directly to the wall and fold down or pull out to create a tabletop surface when needed." A variety of sizes and styles are available depending on needs.

The type of desk that attaches to the wall looks like a decorative cabinet when closed and opens out to reveal storage space and a laptop-sized desk area. These types of folding desks are stationary fixtures that convert a single room into a dual-purpose room. At the end of the workday the desk can be folded closed signaling the close of business and allowing the space to be used for other activities.

A freestanding folding desk is more temporary and versatile than a desk that's attached to a wall. This type of folding desk can be carried to other rooms in the house and set up wherever space allows. They come in different sizes as small as a laptop or as large as a utility table leaving extra space for laying out other office supplies and work materials as needed. Portable desks of this type can be folded and hidden under or behind a bed, sofa or other piece of furniture when the workday is over freeing up the room for other uses.

In addition, just as a room can be modified to be dual-purpose, a folding desk can also serve other purposes. A decorative tablecloth for social events or a protective covering for arts and crafts projects can transform the desk into extra table space when needed. Social occasions at home can benefit from using the folding desk as a side table for desserts, drinks or appetizers freeing up limited table or counter space. Protective covers like a plastic tablecloth or old sheet allows the desk to double as an arts and crafts table and is portable enough to be taken outside to the patio or deck.

A dual-purpose room can be created by installing furniture that can either be folded away or converted into another piece of furniture when not in use.

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