By Guest Writer Mark Long
Multifunction furniture is truly one of the most explosive trends of the modern era. Certainly the concept of using furniture for multiple purposes isn’t new, but as living space continues to shrink, designers and homeowners are becoming increasingly more creative about saving space and maximizing utility from each piece of furniture. One of the most common manifestations of this practice is using a trunk or chest in place of a standard coffee or accent table. This has gained popularity for a number of reasons, both aesthetic and practical.
As with any home-grown decorating trend, designers and retailers are beginning offer specially designed chest coffee tables. However, the roots of this practice are quite homespun and practical. Homeowners simply opted to use an old trunk as the centerpiece of the living room instead of purchasing a new table—a simple and affordable solution.
As with any multifunction furniture, the primary concern is minimizing wasted space. A chest or trunk may have a hinged lid, or it may contain cabinets and drawers. When using the chest as a coffee table, the latter is usually preferred, since it avoids upsetting the decorative tablescape on top. Storing useful items in drawers keeps them close at hand without allowing extraneous clutter to detract from the beauty of the room. In addition, the chest itself is generally larger than a typical coffee table—most are the size of small Restaurant tables—which allows for more decorative surface area.
Hardwood furniture tends to be heavier and more ponderous, but it is usually well finished and solidly built. This not only ensures the durability of the furniture itself, but it also means the chest will lend a comforting feeling of permanence to a living room.
Most chests are classically shaped and finished. The rectangular, hardwood structure complements the warm, earthy tones of a cozy living space. Chest coffee tables can also create a visually interesting contrast when combined with more contemporary furniture pieces such as Outdoor Cafe Furniture. An old naval footlocker will fit perfectly as the centerpiece of a maritime-themed living room, another increasingly popular trend. There are a wide variety of stylized chests, from Eastern jade and bronze trunks to dark Gothic hardwoods. In fact, not all chest coffee tables are old relics—many retailers offer sleek, contemporary styles that maximize utility of space while still lending an ambiance of openness and modernity.
Reusing old furniture is a great way to conserve natural resources while continuing to make interesting and practical additions to your home décor. Many creative homeowners have made chest coffee tables from recycled materials, creating a look that is both rustic and surprisingly modern. Reusing and recycling reduce the impact of deforestation, and cut down on potentially toxic finishes used on wooden furniture.
Using a chest or trunk as a coffee table is a simple and creative way to add flavor and interesting texture to your living room ensemble, all while maximizing the piece’s utility and conserving precious space.
About the Author: Mark Long designs Restaurant tables, chairs, and furniture sets for several Australian food service establishments. His firm specializes in creating elegantly simple Outdoor Cafe Furniture.
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