new ways to love your furniture

The Lost Chair
You know that beautiful chair in your bedroom—the one that’s covered in laundry? Yes, that one. Wouldn’t it be great to get it out from under that pile of jeans and sweaters and actually get some use out of it? Other than as a hamper, we mean.

No one ever intends to have a “laundry chair,” it just sneaks up on you. Clean clothes get moved from the laundry basket to the bed and then suddenly it’s bedtime and no one wants to deal with them, so they end up in the chair. Or you have an outfit that’s too clean for the hamper but too dirty for the closet, so it ends up in the chair. Or, let’s be real, the chair is RIGHT THERE and that’s enough of an excuse.

The other reason you might not be using your chair to its full potential is it’s not in a spot conducive to relaxing—too close to the door, for example—or the other amenities aren’t in place. Sometimes all it takes to make a chair more useful is to move it across the room or to another location in the house.

Whether you keep it in the bedroom, or repurpose it elsewhere, we have some great ideas for ways to reclaim your chair. One warning, though—you will need to put away those clothes.

With just a few inexpensive accessories, it’s easy to turn that chair into a cozy, inviting reading nook. If it’s not already there, move your chair into a corner or at least out of the traffic path to cut down on disturbances and add to the cozy-factor; near a window is ideal if you want the option to read by natural light.

Make sure you add a good reading lamp to prevent eye strain, a cozy throw, and a small tray table or shelf to hold your book and a beverage. (If you are more of an audiobook or podcast person, swap “reading” with “listening” and “book” with “headphones.”) To make yourself even more comfortable, purchase an ottoman or footstool that’s about one-inch lower than the top of the chair cushion, or add a small, plush rug underneath your feet.

If keeping your reading chair (yes, we’re calling it that now) in the bedroom isn’t an option, look for other rooms in the house that have a few low-traffic square feet to spare. Even a quiet corner of the dining room or a deep landing can be an ideal to set-up a reading area, depending on when those areas are used by other members of the family and when you plan to do most of your reading.

Of course, once that chair is out of the bedroom and replaced by a proper hamper, it could go nearly anywhere you need a little extra seating. An armchair is a great addition to a crafts room or home office to give you a break from your task chair. Not only will the change of position do you some good, the change of view will as well, especially if you’re focused on a screen most of the time.

And, if you have the room, a big, comfy chair is a great addition to a child’s room—first as a nursery chair for late-night feedings and then later for story time, cuddles, and holding tiny laundry. (We’re kidding about that last one. Mostly.)

The Overlooked Ottoman
Have you ever stopped to consider the many ways, besides just a footrest, that you can use an ottoman? We stopped counting around twelve, which means we can say with confidence that there are dozens of uses for this versatile, but underestimated piece of furniture. It’s time to start giving it the cred it deserves!

If you are one of those feet-on-the-coffee-table types, an upholstered ottoman can keep those tootsies comfy while providing a safe surface to set your mug—just add a stylish tray to keep things stable and, if a spill does happen, to keep liquids contained.

A bench-style ottoman can also serve as extra seating in the living room, either as part of the main seating area or pushed up a wall and topped with pillows to create a settee or window seat. You can also bring a bench-style ottoman into the dining room to provide extra seating when the dining table is extended, just be sure it’s chair height and can be easily pulled in and out from the table.

Placed in the hall, an ottoman can provide the perfect spot for putting on shoes, waiting for the rest of the family to get ready, and for one night a year, holding the Halloween candy.

Bench-style and storage ottomans are also perfectly at home in the master bedroom, either at the foot of the bed or in the dressing area to give you a comfy, convenient place to sit and put on your socks or tights, or to stage tomorrow’s outfit. Storage ottomans are especially useful in the bedroom and can hold anything from extra blankets to purses and hats.

In the kids’ room, using an ottoman against the wall as a mini-couch is a fantastic idea—the scale is perfect!—but you can also place one in the middle of the play area to serve as a seat, a play table, or, if it’s a storage ottoman, a very chic toy box.

The Underappreciated Dresser
Another piece of furniture that tends to get pigeonholed is the dresser. An integral component of the bedroom set, a dresser can function well in every other room of the house, providing loads of concealed storage space and room for decorative items or even electronics on top.

Moved to the living room, media room or den, your dresser can hold board games, DVDs, video games and controllers, extra blankets for movie night—you name it. It can even stand in for the TV stand, depending on its size and shape (low, wide and horizontal is best). If you have a smaller dresser, place it beside the sofa instead of an end table; its drawers will keep charging cords, magazines and clutter out of sight.

The nice thing about dressers is the huge range of sizes and styles that they come in, and some even have surprising features that make them perfect for use outside the bedroom. The Trinnel dresser, above, has a unique built-in fireplace insert that can operate with or without heat. Sure, it was designed for use in the bedroom, but we could see ourselves putting it in the living room, media room or even the dining room where it would serve as a sideboard and add a little something extra for special dinners.

In the kitchen, a dresser can take the place of a larger hutch to provide much-needed storage for linens, placemats, cutlery and serving pieces, with space on top to show off your treasured stand mixer. A smaller, counter-height dresser can be topped with a butcher block or marble top to create a handy baking center with lots of room in its drawers for essential tools and ingredients.

If you have room in the bathroom for a dresser, you can use it to hold toiletries, towels, extra TP, and everything else you’d like to keep out of sight. We’ve even seen some incredibly clever dresser-to-vanity conversions where people have installed a sink in (or on) the dresser’s top and only had to sacrifice the top drawer(s).

Finally, one of our favourite places for a dresser is in the hall, taking the place of the usual console table. Not only will it give you a spot to put your things when you walk in the door, it will hold all of your dog-walking supplies and your family’s mitts, scarves, and hats, keeping them in close proximity to the door. Don’t forget to hang a beautiful mirror on the wall above for last-minute hair and make-up checks before you head out.