Ideal Home Show 2019: How to create functional multi-purpose living spaces

Sun 07 Apr 2019

Short on space at home? Simone Gordon and Sophie van Widen from London’s Owl Design interior design company recently explained to the Ideal Home Show how to transform your spare rooms into multi-purpose spaces that can provide the guest bedroom, study or playroom you desperately need, all whilst incorporating some of 2019’s top trends!

For many of us, our homes have become mixed-use zones. They provide a place for us to catch up on work and act as a hotel for friends and family when they come to visit, while also suiting the varied requirements of the modern mixed-generational family.

For that reason, the idea of creating multi-tasking spaces has never been so important. And if you live in a cosy inner-city pad or an apartment, the need for practical storage solutions is key to making your home both functional and welcoming.

Following Simone and Sophie’s presentation, here are our tips to help you rethink how you make the best use of your home, allowing it to meet the needs of everyone in the family.



A lot of people now either work from home altogether or take some work home to complete in their own time. But it’s important to ensure the dining table doesn’t become an office or general work-dumping zone.

For this reason, having a system for organising and storing your paperwork, bills, keys, and phone will make sure that surfaces don’t become cluttered. Look to attractive yet handy wall-hanging systems, bowls, and baskets with lids – Ikea is calling!


Store more

Storage is important, no matter how large or small your home is. But the need to make the best use of every inch of your abode – so that it can perform well for a multitude of tasks – makes storage even more vital.

We would all love to have an extra room, but these can actually become dumping zones rather than keeping us organised.

So, instead of looking out, look up! Consider all these ways to make your home organised yet tranquil: add wall shelving, maximise the space above your kitchen cabinets and robes with baskets or storage boxes, and make sure all your furniture contains practical storage solutions.

Remember, storage doesn’t have to look like a pile of files. There are so many ways to keep everything organised and still looking attractive.

Consider labelled boxes, tubs and baskets, as well as decorative magazine holders, and stick with one or two colours to create a cohesive look. Your storage can become a feature rather than something to quickly hide when guests pop by unexpectedly.


Home-office/guest bedroom transformations

The best way for a home office/guest bedroom combination to work is with a sofa bed.

The trick is to maximise desk and office storage to allow for a practical work area, while making it easy to clear away the files when a guest arrives, so the space is still cosy and inviting.

Remember to actually lie down on a prospective sofa bed before you invest in it. Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, so if the bed’s not comfortable enough for you to sleep on, you can’t really expect anyone else to!


Furniture that does double duty

When it comes to furnishing, picking the right pieces can make all the difference to how well your home performs for the range of tasks required.

Coffee tables with storage underneath, and lounges with thin frames, will allow you to maximise your floor area. But the real trick is to make a space for everyone in the household so that they’re not on top of each other.

A home office built into a cupboard lets you close the doors on mess without having to pack it all up, and this idea can be built into a free-standing cabinet if you’re renting.

If you’re organised, exposing filing and storage can look great in tall open shelving units, but if you know you’re a messy worker and like to spread out, look for closed doors on your shelving so you can look organised and neat on the outside!

Striking a balance between work and living space – while still allowing for the family’s needs – is not as hard as you might think. By putting a little thought into your room layout and furniture placement, you will be able to be organised and still enjoy a tidy and inviting home.


Kids’ bedrooms

Of course, kids are known to spread their possessions over every surface of the home. But having systems will help them to make the best use of their rooms, as well as saving you time picking up after them.

Adding tall shelving for less-used clothes or toys, placing baskets under the bed and providing clearly labelled storage solutions are all great ways to organise rooms.

And if you let kids be free with colours to personalise their own space, they’ll feel involved and will be more likely to use them. A great tip from Simone and Sophie is to paint a wall in chalkboard paint so they can write notes and reminders, as well as making their spaces look cool and fun.


Get ‘zoning’

With modern properties now boasting more open-plan living floorplans than ever before, using soft furnishings to create ‘zones’ in otherwise vast areas can be a useful tool. Don’t waste space by thinking it has to be defined as a ‘living room’, ‘dining room’ or otherwise. Open-plan living spaces were designed with multiple purposes in mind, so make the most of your kitchen-diner-living-play space and subtly segment it, using rugs, furniture, plants and soft furnishings.

Further reading
Read our findings on smart home living from the Ideal Home Show 2019