5 Incredibly Versatile Pieces of Furniture Designers Love

They're often easy to move around and can serve multiple functions

a blue entryway features a blue chest of drawers designed by Noel Gatts

Noel Gatts by Lisa Russman Photography

Sure, designers often swoon over statement pieces that exist largely to steal the show (hello, oversized art pieces and show stopping rugs), but the pros love a good practical furniture item, too. We spoke with experts who shared their favorite versatile furniture pieces that can be used in many different ways throughout the home—often at a moment’s notice. The odds are you already own several of these items, so read on then think about how you can get creative in your space! 

  • 01 of 05

    Benches and Ottomans

    A textile ottoman in a living room designed by Noel Gatts

    Noel Gatts / Photo by Lisa Russman Photography

    According to Noel Gatts of Beam and Bloom, such pieces “aren't just soft seats anymore.” Easy to move from one room to another at a moment’s notice, even the most basic benches and ottomans “serve double or even triple duty as comfy places to rest your feet, extra seating for larger gatherings, and coffee or cocktail tables for serving trays of tasty treats,” Gatts explained in an email. In fact, she added, “they can look stunning doing all of these things, and often serve as a fabulous focal point.” 

    Charli Hantman of August Black Interiors agreed that ottomans are key. “In the foyer, one, two, or three can be placed under an open console to add visual interest—and serve as a home to your purse or shopping bag,” she said. Whether you opt for solid color ottomans or select a funky pattern, the choice is yours! 

    Ottomans are positioned beneath a console table in an entryway designed by August Black

    August Black / Photo by Sarah Nathanson

    If an ottoman also opens up to boast storage, even better, Kelsi Lamberth added in an email. In this case they're “a great place to hide those blankets, seasonal pillows, or let’s be honest—kids’ toys,” she said. The structure of such pieces makes it easy for little ones to put away their items on their own, too. 

    A built-in bench is styled with throw pillows and a blanket and features open shelves below in a space designed by Julia Newman

    Julia Newman / Photo by Tessa Neustadt

    Benches can function well in a variety of rooms throughout the home. Julia Newman considers them to be “a great solution to wasted space in an entryway.” She noted in an email, “They serve as a landing spot when you come home, a place to take on and off shoes, and can provide excellent storage that can be hidden away with doors or baskets.” 

  • 02 of 05


    Blue chest of drawers sits in an entryway designed by Noel Gatts

    Noel Gatts / Photo by Lisa Russman Photography

    Dressers are so not just for the bedroom anymore, Gatts noted. “In an entryway or an office, these utilitarian chests of drawers can be dolled up to truly shine, or settle into the background to provide clean lines and ample organization,” she explained. “With an endless variety of sizes and styles, and numerous ways to revive or customize each piece, you're really only limited by your imagination!” In her own work, Gatts has used dressers in places such as entryways and dining nooks to enhance storage capabilities. 

    dresser arranged next to a settee styled by Cami Weinstein

    Cami Weinstein / Photo by Neil Landino .jpg

    Not sure what to place inside a dresser located in the front hallway? Go for the basics, as Cami Weinstein said in an email. “The drawers cannot only hold clothes, but in an entry can neatly hold gloves, hats, and pets’ leashes or toys.” And in the dining room? Use a dresser to store linens, such as placemats and tablecloths, Weinstein added. Talk about a place for everything and everything in its place! 

  • 03 of 05

    Kitchen Islands

    White kitchen island with gray textile stools make for a cozy sitting area designed by Julia Newman

    Julia Newman / Photo by Tessa Neustadt

    No existing kitchen island? It’s easy to go ahead and purchase such a piece online, and it will make a major difference in your day to day life. Islands are “not only a place to cook and eat, but also a place to work from and a great spot for entertaining,” Newman explained in an email. Just ensure that your seating is comfortable—you’re bound to be sitting at the island quite often, she added. Newman recommends opting for something padded in a fabric that can be cleaned easily. 

  • 04 of 05

    A “Pick Up” Chair

    A pick-up chair positioned next to a window and nightstand in a bedroom designed by Scot Meacham Wood

    Scot Meacham Wood / Photo by Nicolas Smith 

    What is such a piece, you may wonder? “The code word we always use in our office was ‘pick up chair,’” Scot Meacham Wood noted in an email. “And we would always work to fit a few into each project!” Wood explains that this is a chair—a bit larger than dining size—that can easily be moved from one space to another as needed. When selecting such a piece, paying attention to pattern is crucial, Wood explained. “We always made sure that the upholstery could work in one of the adjoining rooms so style was never sacrificed for function.” 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    A Small Dining Table

    Whether you choose to use such a piece as is or alter it a bit to suit your needs, a small dining table is always a winner in designer Samantha Cram’s book. “I love using a small dining table as a desk for optimal space for a lamp and other tabletop items, or cutting the legs shorter of a dining table for an oversized coffee table,” she explained in an email. 

If you're redecorating spaces in your home, consider repurposing existing pieces in your collection or buying items that can serve double duty. You won't regret it.