1. A coffee table with lots of storage space
As sleek as a simple coffee table might look, if you want your living room to pull double-duty, you've gotta get some storage. Where else will you keep emergency bedding and pillows? There are a few different ways to go about this: You can get a hard-surface coffee table with hidden storage (we like the , from $549, westelm.com) or with shelving to hide your knick-knacks (check out the mirrored , from $799, zgallerie.com). But the best option for ultra-storage? A huge ottoman, like the , from $1,099 at crateandbarrel.com.
2. A pull-out couch
Sleeper sofas don't have to be tacky. After all, they're about the most useful item you could buy, especially if you're not lucky enough to have a guest room. If you have a guest coming to stay, the difference between sleeping on the couch cushions and a pull-out mattress is huge. The ($999, wayfair.com) is a neutral-toned budget option that should work in most room; the (starting at $2,999, roomandboard.com) is a pricy but super-comfy option.
3. Side tables that double as seating
For eager hostesses with small spaces, side tables that double as seating are essential to a multifunctional room. When you only have a few guests over — or the party tends more towards "milling around" than sitting — they provide a flat surface for drinks. But if people want to pull up a chair at the end of the night, they do that, too. The ($199, cb2.com) is a super-chic example — as is the pricier ($1,170, hivemodern.com).
4. Expandable table
If your dining room is small but you're still keen on hosting dinner parties, an expandable table is the solution: It's small enough for a couple people to eat dinner at nightly, but can get big enough to serve a whole group. With a quick room rearrangement, you've got a spacious dining table — one you won't have to worry about storing. IKEA's table ($99, ikea.com) starts super-small, hardly any bigger than a console table; the round ($389, macys.com) is rustic and modern.
5. Modular seating
Sectional sofas provide so much more flexibility: You can separate the pieces to create multiple seating areas, or you can push them together for a comfortable couch great for TV-watching. And if you want to scoot it out of the way in advance of a dinner party, that's simple too, with less bulky pieces to move. The (from $1,670, abchome.com) provides three options to mix and match, as the inexpensive (from $200, ikea.com).
6. A room divider
No, not those tacky bulletin board-esque dividers you might find in your office: Get something sturdy and classic that fits in with your décor. You don't have to keep it out all the time — screens look great standing against a long wall. But when you want to divide your living room into "eating" and "playing" sections (or just segment a party), it's a godsend. We love the ($1,119, restorationhardware.com) or the budget-friendly ($107, target.com).
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