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Furniture for multitasking lifestyles

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Listen to a conference call while inputting data. Respond to email while supervising the kids’ baths.

Multitasking is central to the lives of countless Americans -- both personally and professionally. It makes sense, then, that homeowners are beginning to demand more from their home furnishings. If we can multitask, why shouldn’t our end tables or ottomans be expected to do the same?

Furnishings that do double duty are especially popular with those who live in tiny spaces. Additionally, William Harris, a principal at the New York architectural firm AvroKo, told the Wall Street Journal he believes the demand for flexible furniture originated with consumers who’ve grown accustomed to phones that also function as TVs and music players that double as remote controls.

He says people see greater value in objects that have multiple functions: “‘It looks great,’ they may say, ‘but show me what else it can do.’ Why not make a bar cart that turns into a DJ table? Why not have postal boxes that double as wine locker?”

Sure, fold-out sofas have been around for years, but today’s multitasking furniture is decidedly more creative. Check out these cool dual-duty pieces:

Table that grows

Designed by Ozzio, the Goliath table is a slim 17 inches wide, just right for holding your mail in a narrow foyer. Then, when company comes, its aluminum telescoping mechanism and five leaves allow you to stretch it to 115 inches long. Fully extended, the table can seat 12 comfortably.

The table, available in a number of finishes through Resource Furniture, has a starting price of $3,950.

Table with game

A handful of dining room table/game table products are on the market, but the Fusion Table by Aramith was one of the first and remains one of the most popular.

The Fusion Table has a patented leg riser system that allows the table to rise from 30-inch dining height up to 33 inches (regulation American Billiards height). The table’s pool pockets are hidden while the table is in dining mode.

Finished with dessert? Just clear the plates, raise the table and remove the flat dining top. Presto -- you’re ready to rack the balls.

The sleek 7-foot-long table comes in a variety of finishes; matching benches, stools or chairs are available. The steel-frame table retails for just under $8,000.

It’s a desk and a bed

Sleeping on the job can take on a whole new meaning thanks to the dual-purpose Cabrio IN.

By simply lifting the desk up and folding the bed base down, you can transform this freestanding desk into a single bed.

The unit comes with a Visco mattress and is designed so sheets and blankets can stay on when it’s closed. The modern-looking unit comes from Resource Furniture, which also offers coordinating shelving and storage systems. Available in four different finishes, this desk/bed starts at approximately $4,000.

Bike on call

Parking your bike outside is not always the safest option. So, if you must bring your bicycle indoors, you might as well put it to work using the PIT IN table.

This sturdy wooden structure keeps your bike steady while you sit on the bike saddle and work at the attached desk surface. No doubt it’s one of the strangest desk setups you’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely dual purpose.

Created by the folks at Store Muu, the PIT IN was nominated for a 2009 Design Report Award; the plywood desks are made to order in Japan at a cost of approximately $5,620 plus shipping.

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