Transforming furniture is the closest thing to a gadget that a chair or table can get. But more than just shifting to serve multiple purposes, there is a cleverness to how that functionality is achieved. Intricate designs. Complicated moving parts. Fun ideas.
Here are nine of the best examples of beds, sofas and shelves that can rearrange themselves.
The Murphy Bed was one of the original types of transforming furniture. First designed in the early 1900s, its namesake William Murphy invented the bed so that he could hide his sleeping apparatus and court a woman in his studio apartment without the shameful implications of sex. Image: Magestic Cabinets
The folding picnic table is certainly something we've all seen before. All its pieces pop out of a case no bigger than an ironing board, providing an eating surface for four. I loved the one my grandfather had when I was a kid, and looking at it now, I still think it's as genius as ever. Image: Amazon
Maybe you want to move your table to a part of the room where a circle just won't fit. Maybe you're tired of the hierarchical nature of a rectangular table. Maybe you're just bored. Regardless of the reason, this table, which can quickly shift from angular to perfectly round, is nothing short of brilliant. Image: Mauricio Affonso
The convertible table shelf has been a baker's tool for over 100 years. But now it has been reappropriated as a piece of stylish industial funiture for a modern home. With a simple rotation, the flat surface of this table turns into a vertical stack of five planks of wood. Image: Kathy Kuo Home
The Doc Sofa Bed (also pictured above) is the way I'd ideally want to crash in someone's living room. Unfolding into a bunk bed, the Doc looks way more comfortable than any standard convertible sofa. And it generally looks better, too (maroon upholstery notwithstanding). Image: Bonbon
Something about combining a stove with a piece of furniture — you know, upholstery, wood and padding — just seems like a bad idea. But this actually exists, and it apparently meets the necessary safety requirements. I love the idea, as long as it isn't in my house. Image: Vestal Design
Sometimes you need an extra chair in a pinch, but you don't necessarily want something permanently taking up space in an apartment. This chair, hidden in a side table, is certainly an elegant concept, even if it's not the most beautifully executed object. Image: Yanko Design
You have a kid. That kid grows up. What do you do with the old crib-turned-bed from the nursery? Just change the nursery into a home office with the crib that converts into a tidy desk or a spare couch. That's conservation — and inheritance in reverse. Image: Fab
Nobody today does transforming furniture better than Resource, and its combination desk and bed is one of the company's best examples. What looks like a straightforward desk floats up on a hinge, revealing a space beneath for a twin bed to fold down. This should be a standard issue item in every college dorm room. Image: Resource Furniture