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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

What's the point of multi-purpose furniture?

Man moving furniture

Credit: iStockphoto

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How are you going with your multi-purpose products challenge? I’m quite enjoying it so far, it makes me look at everything with fresh eyes.

In my search for ways to get multi-taskers into my life, I came across a few mentions of multi-purpose furniture. The obvious thing here is a sofa-bed, which is something I’d like to have. At the moment I’ve got a bed in the spare room for when my in-laws come to visit from the country.

But I could get more use out of the room if the bed could fold away into a couch so I’d have room for using my sewing machine at other times. When I see a good one available secondhand I’ll definitely give it a go.

There are lots more options out there, and at first I didn’t find them very convincing. A shelf that turns into a chair or a coffee-table? But what happens to the stuff that you were keeping on the shelf?

Then I saw one of those modular lounge suites that can be changed into different styles and I understood. The point isn’t that you have multiple uses for the furniture day by day, it’s that you can keep the furniture and use it even if your needs change over the years. Maybe you'll move house, maybe you'll have another child, maybe your teenagers will move out.

This is one of the principles of green living, really. We try not to buy stuff unnecessarily, but sometimes there’s a real need for a new-to-us item. When that time comes, make sure you buy the best quality you can afford and choose something that will get a lot of use over the years. If it can do double duty then all the better!

Have you got any furniture that’s served different purposes over the years? Tell us about it in the comments.