carlyn yandle photo


Shaker-style details create an armoire-style façade on this wall bed in a 9x12 all-purpose room.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have a second bedroom or den would never give it up, but that same room is likely to be the household dumping ground — and grounds for arguments.

That’s what happens when you try to make one room the overflow closet, guest quarters, retreat, study, play area for kiddies, and the place where collections go to live (or die).

It takes a lot of forethought to make a tiny “spare” room or den fit various demands. But once all functions are met, it can be the most utilized room in the home. That’s why I’m devoting two columns to creating a multifunctional place in a minimum amount of space.

This week, I’m rallying in support of the wall bed. If you’ve got a six-by-eight space, you’ve got room to accommodate two people in a double wall bed, even if you’re renting. Unlike the inflatable mattress/fold-up frame option, the wall bed offers all the comfort of a regular bed, and can be made up complete with pillows in advance, requiring only one pull on the front panel to turn the space into a bedroom. (It’s also an immediate solution for getting a good night’s sleep when your partner has the flu.)

For the very small space, a wall bed beats a sofa-bed, which takes up more permanent floor space, often eliminating the possibility of some desk/work space. A better use of that precious square footage may be a combination of wall bed, reclining armchair and secretariat desk: Basically a low bookshelf with flip-down work surface. If you’re really squeezed for space, you could ditch the desk idea and choose a wall bed with a pull-down tabletop for use when the bed is stowed.

Both vertical- and horizontal-open wall beds blend well into a bank of bookshelves, and provide a much-needed expanse of space in an otherwise cluttered room. Contrary to rumour, a wall bed can be dismantled and relocated, making the estimated $2,000 investment worthwhile over the long term. A wide range of styles and laminate finishes are available, but trendy options can look tired down the road.

Check out style options and prices at Instant Bedrooms (125-1080 Mainland) or trek out to Richmond to Ace Bedrooms, 106-11500 Bridgeport Rd., near Ikea, or B.C. Murphy Wall-Bed (get directions and Flash-y graphics at

  • Next week: A case for books (where there’s no space).

Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks ( She dwells on urban-home issues every Thursday in Metro.

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