Multifunctional Furniture2018-12-28T03:24:37+00:00

Multifunctional Furniture

Designs are better when they serve many functions

Not all Multifunctional Furniture Transforms

At first I was in love in transforming furniture, because it served so many functions. Then I made working prototypes of some of my favorite transforming  designs and I found they weren’t all as great in reality. Why? Because you always had to move them. You couldn’t always use the “saved” space, because you had to transform it again later. It ended up being a lot of movement without enough added benefit. Some of the best designs still needed to transform to function well, but I found some designs can have many functions without transforming at all.

Enter the Caterpillar Bike Rack Bench

Pictured above the bikes are on one side, but they can dock on either side. It’s strong enough that kids can play around and jump on it all they want.
I have pictures of kids having fun sitting, climbing, and jumping all over it, but I can’t share them due to privacy purposes. Needless to say the kids love it.

I was living and working in an intentional community, teaching English to refugees, chopping down trees for firewood, cooking for 60 people, and various other jobs to serve the community. At the school house I saw that their bike rack was in disrepair with only 2 of 6 functional bike slots. I also noticed that their bench out back was getting old with paint and wood chipping, creating a safety hazard. I took all these factors into account when my idea of the Caterpillar Bike Rack Bench came to mind.

At first I saw the need to have a new bike rack and bench. Thinking of design I thought, “Why not combine them?” As I started coming up with design ideas I looked at what materials we already had. Since they make they own wood on site with a log cutter, I noticed a lot of spare 2x4s sitting around, so I asked if I could use them for my design. With a ton of 2×4’s at my disposal I made a bike rack that doubled as a bench.

Eventually I realized the wood would have to be treated or it’d fall apart just like the old bike rack and bench. I found some spare paint to help protect the wood from rot and erosion. There was extra yellow and orange paint and I figured it’d liven up the design. I only had 3 racks painted and it started looking like a Dr. Seuss creature, so I took it one step further. After cutting a round face I found a coupe spare eye bolts for ears and the caterpillar was born!

Transforming Multifunctional Furniture

Most of my designs in the past decade have been tiny house focused. How much function can I get in a small space. I happened to have a basement that was lightly used for storage, so I consolidated, removed and donated most of it. Once I had a clear space I had a design studio to make working multifunctional furniture prototypes.

I’m a bit biased against murphy beds, because beds aren’t supposed to go vertical. Every time you put the bed up you have to move the pillows and blankets. I much prefer a trundle bed, which is a bed (on wheels) that pushes under a platform and out of the way. However, if you have a low overhang from the platform then you still need to take off the pillows and blankets. So I decided to make the bed a bit closer to the ground and platform a bit higher. With this slight adjustment you never have to make your bed again, simply push it under the platform and out of the way.

So I now have a bed and a platform, what should I used the platform for. I came up with a bunch of designs for that. Almost everyone wants storage for clothes and other things. Most people have computer or laptops and want a desk, and lastly most homes have couches. I decided to combine them all and add a book nook for good measure.

The same concept for the bed I applied to the desk. I wanted to be able to push the desk in, but not have to remove my laptop or anything on the desk. So the desk hides away easily by lifting the right side slightly and pushing it in. When the desk is in the area become a book nook using the desk chair. A desk lamp is shared between the closet and desk; grab a book from the shelf next to you and you’re all set.  You can even leave the desk out slightly to place your book, phone or a drink as desired.

Shortly before taking this down I bought a projector and projection screen. I mounted the projector in the middle of the closet and had a 92″ pull down projection screen in the middle of the room.

Closet Desk Couch Bed Book Nook





How It’s Built

Couch was one I had in the house, gutted, took apart, and attached to the platform. The cushions get put over the bed to complete the couch. When not in use they hide under the platform.

Bed is a queen mattress put on a unique design I created by using vinyl coated wire rope in a grid formation fastened by U shaped nails to a 2×4 frame. (See Below). The front of the couch was screwed into the bed frame to complete the look when closed. The frame is held up by 4 locking casters.

Closet is made of blackout curtains hanging on screws to the unfinished ceiling. On the right side I have a metal pipe hanging across for shirts, and desk lamp to illuminate the area. The left side has more space, sans-desk nook, and is designed for storage and a dresser.

Desk has removable legs, so I took 2 off, and attached rolling casters. I added a board on the inside top stop stuff from falling off the desk, and mounted a 6 outlet power strip with flexible cord so it works as the desk moves. I made it so my laptop, desk light, and cellphone charger can run off it. The desk simply rolls on the platform and has a plywood box around it to protect it from anything in the closet above.

Platform and everything else is made primarily of plywood and 2x4s.

Couch Bed Bar Desk Stadium Seating

Couch / Stadium Seating



Bed Frame

Couch Bed Bar Details

With the addition of the projector, came a new emphasis on movie night and I wanted a better layout and design to accomplish that.

My first focus was on stadium seating. I could have simply replaced the closet with a couch, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted more functions, like a place for drinks. So I added a dining room table desk bar. When in couch mode and few chairs on the platform it works great for stadium seating.

In pictures the projector is on the bar, before it was ceiling mounted.

Tiny House Adaptation.

Thinking forward and adapting this to a tiny house you could have a galley kitchen behind it, using an adjustable table to double the counter space for food prep, drinks, and dining.

Speaking of Tiny houses. I have a bunch of TIny House, Small Home, and Van Builds…

Tiny House Design page