Houseplans Blog

Multifunctional Furniture

Multifunctional Furniture
Make smaller spaces more efficient.
[Note: The Murphy bed, also called the wall or fold-down bed, has been around for more than a century, and multi-functional furniture in general has an even longer lineage, from the library ladder/chair patented in Great Britain in the late eighteenth century to the children's step-chair by Bauhaus designer Alma Buscher, of 1923. But today's versions have taken the idea of space-saving tasking furniture in exciting new directions -- literally! I asked David Jacknin to interview the co-founder of one of the most innovative furniture brands in this arena, as a way to help house plan purchasers think about how they might furnish smaller homes. Some of these products would suit a home office or "flex room" so it could double as a guest room --Editor Dan Gregory]

With the rise of the tiny home movement and houses with a smaller carbon footprint, it's clear homeowners are looking for ways to make smaller spaces more efficient. We thought we’d take a look at how today's multifunctional furniture allows a small space to perform multiple tasks, and thereby look and feel more spacious. We spoke to Ron Barth, co-founder of Resource Furniture, a company based in New York City.

How did you get started in the business?
RB:  I have been in the furniture business for 25 years in New York City and could see a great need for furniture of this type. Furniture that was both very space-efficient and that was beautifully designed, functioned with no effort and well made.

Were you inspired by any specific designers?
RB:  All our furniture is designed around functionality rather than a specific style or designer. The aesthetic is modern but the highest quality and functionality is our goal.

What are some of the best-selling products?
RB:  Our transforming wall beds remain among our best selling products. Three in particular are very popular: The Swing (shown at the top of this post -- note how the part at the bottom of the bed is hinged so that it works as both support and shelf) is a self-standing, queen size wall bed that is a  9-foot sofa with a sliding chaise lounge.

The Swing also provides additional storage under the sofa. Working with our designers, we decided to focus on making a super luxurious, modernist sofa transformable into one of our well crafted wall beds. The result was The Tango, similar to the Swing 

but with a deeper, more even more comfortable seat that is infinitely configurable from a 7-foot sofa to an expansive sectional  

sofa. The LGM is a 86-5/8” tall shelving unit that rotates to become a queen size bed with side tables.

What are some of your new products for 2016?
RB: We have a new transformable bookcase made from solid oak or solid walnut: the X2 Bookcase. It's a customizable bookshelf comprised of 48 wooden slats that fit together in a way that allows both movement

and structural stability. This bookshelf can morph in width and height and have different angles and shapes.

What's a favorite project using your furniture? 
RB:  The PAD Harlem Micro units are a favorite. Drawing inspiration from the ADapt NYC project, these pre-war, single room occupancy units (SROs) were “designed for life”. The units range in size from 155 square feet to 230 square feet and are truly multi-functional. The micro-units were intelligently designed to make the most of the small space. By fitting four of their micro-units with Clei wall bed and storage systems, Weissman Equities transformed the space to fit the needs of their residents. 

What are the greatest advantages of multifunctional furniture?
RB:  Multifunctional furniture allows families to reduce the size of their floor plan which results in cost savings for housing, taxes, savings on utilities, and a smaller carbon footprint.

(All photos courtesy Resource Furniture.)

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