Clever home design can alleviate the stress and anxiety many people feel at this time of the year when it comes to hosting large numbers of visitors or out-of-town guests, says designer Anita Curry, founder of Avenue Spaces.
“You want guests to feel comfortable and invited,” says Curry. “You need somewhere for them to sit, somewhere for them to eat, and sometimes somewhere for them to sleep, but it’s only for a couple of times a year,” she says. “So how do you make this work, especially with what our focus has been lately, which is smaller spaces?”
The key, she says, is to invest in multi-functional pieces you can use all year.
“Furniture has come a long way, with really creative solutions for these sort of things,” she says. “We’re advising our clients from the very beginning to look at multi-functional pieces.”
Flip-top storage ottomans are a great place to start, says Curry. They function as side tables for entertaining, and when the top is flipped, work as a cushioned seat, so can be used in living rooms, around dining tables, or any room in the house where you need extra seating. They also provide storage for things like magazines, linen and kids’ toys, she says, providing a solution for the “Lego drama”.
“They’re one of our favourite pieces,” Curry says. “We use them in almost every project, because they are so functional, so versatile, very inexpensive, you can get them as cheap as $199. They stack. They last all year round.”
Another multi-functional favourite, says Curry, is the Philippe Starck Ghost Chair.
“They’re basically acrylic, clear chairs that disappear, and they have handles, so they can float in any room,” she says. “They can go as an accent chair in the bedroom, extra seating in the dining or living room, they can go outside, they’re indoor/outside. They’re awesome, you can use them in any room pretty much for any occasion, and they don’t look like extra furniture in the space, because they just disappear; that’s why they’re called the Ghost Chair.”
This is a great time of year to tackle the “don’t-know-what-to-do-with room”, says Curry.
“We’ve done almost 250 projects in the last 18 months, and almost everybody has a room that they don’t know what to do with,” she says. “It usually becomes the dumping ground, so we’re trying to give people ideas about converting that into the ‘everything room’.”
Often, says Curry, people will put a spare bed in this room, which is maybe used once or twice a year, and if you think about the square footage you’re paying for for that bed, “it’s like hello, let’s look at that”, she says.
“There’s a lot of really cool day beds now that have storage in them,” she says. “One of our favourites is called the Ikea Hemnes Daybed. It’s so awesome because it’s got these three huge storage drawers in the bottom, it folds out into a full king, and you can holiday decorate with the pillows, and change the knobs on the drawers so it doesn’t look like an Ikea piece.”
The dining table is a central concern for people at this time of the year, says Curry, and where possible, she recommends people go for tables that extend.
“There’s a lot of really cool ones now,” she says. “You can even get glass extension tables.”
There’s also been a bit of a design rebirth of the old ’50s TV dinner tray tables, says Curry, which work year round as end tables.
“There’s some really cool colours now too,” she says. “So you can flip them up, and put them on a hook on the back of the door, like chairs (when they’re not being used). They can be art on the wall.”
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