Expert Tips for Choosing Flexible Furniture

Wedge ottoman
To earn a place in today's busy homes, furniture needs to look good and work hard. Interior designer Elaine Griffin makes her picks for stylish furniture that has multiple uses, smart storage, clever functionality -- or all of the above.

Pick #1: Console table

It makes a handsome desk -- the center drawer has a drop front for easy keyboard access -- but its overall slim proportions mean this table works in lots of places. "I'd love it stationed behind a sofa or in a foyer. You could drop your keys and sunglasses in the drawer," Elaine says. "The limed oak finish isn't one you see every day, so this one gets bonus style points."

Forecast console desk, $799; pennsylvaniahouse.com

Pick #2: Nightstand

"I love this nightstand," Elaine says. "It's clean and streamlined enough to go with any decorating style."

Urban Dwellings nightstand, $1,279; drexelheritage.com

Nightstand Drawer

This sleek nightstand is also functional. "It's got built-in plug-ins and a charging station in the top drawer, so you can have 'command central' right at your bedside," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says.

Urban Dwellings nightstand, $1,279; drexelheritage.com

Pick #3: Expandable-top table

"Just unfold the leaves on this handsome table and its seating capacity doubles," Elaine says. "That means you'll never have to remember where you stashed the table leaves again."

Bryson Expandable Top Counter Table, $849; broyhillfurniture.com

Party for Eight

"If you live in a space-challenged house, this is a great option for you," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. "Finally, you can have a dinner party for eight. Plus, the rustic finish and sculptural shape make it look more expensive than it is."

Bryson Expandable Top Counter Table, $849; broyhillfurniture.com

Pick #4: TV mirror

"This is the solution for 'I don't want a TV in my bedroom,'" Elaine says. "The frame holds a mid-size flat-screen TV, and when the TV is turned off, it's a mirror. When it's cleverly camouflaged like this, your TV doesn't have to ruin your fabulous decor."

Double Vision TV mirror, $545; kincaidfurniture.com

Television

The sleek lines of the frame and dresser add elegance to any room.

Double Vision TV mirror, $545; kincaidfurniture.com

Pick #5: Vanity desk

"Who's the fairest of them all? This diminutive little desk is," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. "Most desks are 3x5; this one is only 2x4 so it's perfect for a bedroom. Pop the center panel up to reveal a mirror or a corkboard and a drop-front compartment for a laptop. There are cutouts in the back for cords, too."

Brighton Vanity-Desk, $300; crateandbarrel.com

Vanity Desk Mirror

This versatile desk features a center panel with a mirror. The drawers and fold down table hold grooming essentials.

Brighton Vanity-Desk, $300; crateandbarrel.com

Vanity Desk Corkboard

If your bedroom doubles as your home office or homework station, this vanity desk can handle both tasks. The center panel opens to reveal a corkboard and a drop-front compartment for a laptop. There are also cutouts in the back for cords.

Brighton Vanity-Desk, $300; crateandbarrel.com

Pick #6: Project table

"This is the jack of all tables," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. "Not only does it have clever storage for just about anything you could possibly imagine -- gift wrap, computer stuff, crafts, office supplies -- but if you wheel the chests out from under the table and add barstools, it could be a perfect mini counter-height dining table. The concrete countertop is practically indestructible, so this table would work well as a potting bench or outdoor sideboard."

Project table, $2,599 as shown; schnadig.com

Pick #7: Headboard

"How genius is this? Roll-out shelves that hide away behind the headboard, giving you his-and-hers storage," Elaine says. "Store books, lotions, remotes, whatever else you need bedside, either on the hidden shelves or on the flat top."

Malm queen headboard, $199; Malm queen bed frame, $199; ikea.com

Headboard Storage

The shelves roll out from behind the headboard to offer storage solutions on both sides of the bed. Keep the bedroom looking neat and tidy by sliding the drawers into the headboard.

Malm queen headboard, $199; Malm queen bed frame, $199; ikea.com

Pick #8: Tray Table

"This works anywhere you need a little table -- for toiletries and towels in the bathroom, as a nightstand, in a home office as a printer table with storage for supplies below," Elaine says. "This one takes its style cues from what sits on top of it, either modern or traditional. And it looks great from all directions, so you could put either the long or short side against a wall or float it out from the wall."

Piccolo server, $262; simplytraytables.com

Pick #9: Dining cabinet

"This one gets the gold medal for smart storage," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. It has a big drop-front compartment for platters plus a pullout panel with a dowel for hanging table linens. And just imagine its potential in a home office. "You could stash supplies in all the little drawers and cover the glass doors with beautiful fabric or paper. It would give you a huge amount of storage space."

Better Homes and Gardens Present Tense storage cabinet, $1,800; bhgfurniture.com

Pick #10: Dining chair

"It's the little chair that could. It's perfect at the dining table, of course, but also at a desk, because those office chairs on wheels are usually not so pretty," Elaine says. Or use it in the bedroom if you want a perch for putting on shoes but don't have space for a larger upholstered armchair.

Curved upholstered chair, $199; westelm.com

Pick #11: Storage Ottoman

Instead of shoving a bulky file cabinet in your closet, why not park one of these in your living room? It holds standard-size hanging files, and the casters make it easy to move. Choose from more than 100 fabrics.

File storage ottoman, $299-$459; ballarddesigns.com

Ottoman File Cabinet

Keep all your important papers within reach with this stylish ottoman. The top opens to reveal bars for holding standard-size hanging files.

File storage ottoman, $299-$459; ballarddesigns.com

Pick #12: Cocktail table

The top slides open so you can get at what's stored inside without disturbing your tabletop display. Keep throws or Wii accessories in the top compartment and board games in the bottom drawer. "Or try it at the foot of the bed for sweaters," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. "It's cedar-lined. Isn't that thoughtful?"

Chatham storage cocktail table, $499; lanefurniture.com

Cocktail table

The drawers slide open to reveal all your living room essentials. Keep throws or Wii accessories in the top compartment and board games in the bottom drawer.

Chatham storage cocktail table, $499; lanefurniture.com

Pick #13: Storage cubes

"These babies come in six colors. I promise there's one for you," Elaine says. At 18 inches cubed, they're perfect next to a sofa or chair. Pull four together for a generous coffee table. Or stack them into sleek, streamlined towers for showing off your stuff. The simple design goes with any decorating style.

Mimic cube, $80 each; crateandbarrel.com

Pick #14: Tray table

"Have your tea and tote it, too, with this chic little metal table," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. The removable tray top is great for serving, but the table also works beside a chair or bed -- or even the tub to hold bath salts and a candle.

Bamboo tray table, $152; simplytraytables.com

Pick #15: Sleeper Sofa

The futon grows up and gets better-looking! This sofa pulls out to become a full-size bed. "I love the clean lines and linen-look fabric (there are seven colors of slipcovers to choose from)," Elaine says. "But the best part -- and this is genius -- is that the arms zip open to store pillows and bedding, so you're always ready for an overnight guest."

Kivik sofa bed, $949; ikea.com

Sleeper Sofa

When open, the full-size bed is the perfect spot for houseguests.

Kivik sofa bed, $949; ikea.com

Pick #16: Dining table

"If you're one of those people who uses the dining table as a desk, this one's for you," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. The tabletop slides open to reveal two storage cubbies with dividers. Use one for office supplies and the other for silverware, napkins, and rings. The table's clean lines mean you can pair it with any style of chair.

Perspectives dining table, $899; broyhillfurniture.com

Dining table

One storage cubby holds dining essentials. The dividers are perfect for separating silverware and other small items.

Perspectives dining table, $899; broyhillfurniture.com

Dining table

The other cubby houses office supplies. With this dining table you are always prepared no matter what the occasion.

Perspectives dining table, $899; broyhillfurniture.com

Pick #17: Wedge ottoman

"How smart is this? Each person takes a slice of the pie to sit on," Interior Designer Elaine Griffin says. "Or put them all together and add a big tray for a coffee table that's super practical, especially if it's upholstered in leather or outdoor fabric."

Wedge ottoman, $568 per wedge; leeindustries.com

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