Smart Solutions: One item, many uses

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

 While multi-functional furnishings such as nesting tables and ottomans have become increasingly popular in the marketplace, home accents and gadgets that serve more than one purpose can also come in handy around the house.

For instance, even your lighting can multi-task. Why stop with one role when you can have lamps that feature storage compartments and charging stations for smartphones? These pieces free up space on your nightstand or desk with clever designs that deliver more bang for your buck.

Multipurpose pieces like this wall organizer pack myriad functions into one find.

Other hardworking home accents include floor mirrors that have built-in cabinets and drawers. Look for tabletop varieties that open to reveal hidden compartments like a little jewelry armoire.

Get your walls in on the multipurpose act with message centers that combine cork sections with chalkboards and magnetic surfaces. Other hanging organizers offer a number of functions with hooks for cups or keys and pockets for magazines and smaller items like envelopes and notepads. Certain styles mix decorative elements, like a metal and wood wall organizer that includes a glass vase for a charming floral arrangement.  

Some versatile items provide added convenience, such as a serving tray with slots on either side for reading materials to accompany your breakfast in bed or casual meal on the couch. Other double-duty pieces with unique features include a wreath stand topped by a lantern to highlight your seasonal displays.

Even kitchen gadgets run the gamut from those with multiple components that can be separated for food prep to products that incorporate more than one tool into one easy-to-grab object. A mixing bowl with a handle and pouring spout makes baking a breeze, while a combination can and bottle opener saves drawer space.

If you’d like to expand your space saving efforts to include a few pieces of accent furniture, search online for clever finds like a coat rack with an umbrella stand built into the base or a hall tree that includes USB ports.

These flexible designs can go anywhere in the house. In a powder room, you might add a wall cabinet with a combination of shelves for display and drawers for unsightly items to be tucked away.

In a foyer, a bench with a shelf for shoes combines two uses for the price of one piece. For a master bedroom, you can choose an alarm clock with added features like displays for the date and the room temperature.  

In areas where surface space may be limited like a home office, multipurpose pieces like an inbox with a storage drawer lend a sense of order. A variety of caddies include those that hold notepads, folders and pens together for easy access. From desk organizers to carousels, these multi-use items that help you corral your stuff without adding more clutter in the process create a neat and tidy environment.

Whether you have a tight space to contend with or you simply wish to rid your rooms of one too many elements, these clever little helpers suit a number of scenarios. Keep an eye out for multi-functional finds for your own home or as gifts for others.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at