A lovely family home in South London. Victorian era, meaning high ceilings. Three rooms: living room, dining room and kitchen, connecting one into the next. A brand new kitchen, with a half-wall dividing the cooking part from a separate space.
The new kitchen looked fantastic, and also provided a bar-stool-eating-space. The separate space, however, looked wasted, with a small dining table and scattered toys belonging to the toddler of the house.
The dining room simply wasn't used. Too much furniture, including a large sideboard, took up so much space that it wasn't possible to sit and eat in comfort. So the table had become a dumping ground for "I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-that". And that sideboard was full of CDs, DVDs, videos - which of course, were never used, as the equipment they were played on was in the sitting room.
The sitting room had two recesses, one each side of the fireplace. One was used, logically, for the tv, audio equipment and the like; but the other contained a table. Just one surface. No shelves, no drawers. And masses of wasted space above and below that one shelf.
So we started with a bookshelf. Good old IKEA (so easily accessible during my days in London, less so in Norfolk!) and a sturdy, flexible, nice-looking dark brown Billy bookcase. OK, so we bought one more item: the matching CD tower, which fitted perfectly in the last few inches of width in that wasted recess.
The scattered books went in there. The ornaments and picture frames went in there. More importantly, the contents of the sideboard went in there. Which meant two things: (a) the media was more likely to be used, and (b) the sideboard was empty.
So we cleared away the breakfast table in the kitchen (no longer needed, as the family would be able to eat in the dining room or at the breakfast bar); and moved the sideboard in. Toddler toys went in and on said sideboard, which was an ideal height for a small person to reach. Little plastic baskets within divided up dolly's clothes from Lego from jigsaws (small people, in my experience, love tidy places to put things).
And once the sideboard was out of the dining room - guess what? It was suddenly possible to move in there; to walk around the table without squeezing; to turn it into a proper, beautiful eating space.
One bookshelf (plus CD tower). Three rooms. Job done.