Flexible furniture: 20 space-saving ideas for compact city flats, from hidden wall desks to corner sofabeds

Almost half of Londoners would describe their home as a 'large bedsit', so we find the best space-saving furniture to make the most of city living..

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Making the best use of space is an increasingly tough challenge for half of the world's population - city dwellers.

In London, the average one-bedroom new home is now the size of a Jubilee line carriage (495 sq ft) and even the average family home has shrunk by 22 sq ft over the past decade.

What's more, only a fifth of Londoners have a separate room in which to eat, as dining rooms are converted into an extra bedroom to save tenants on rental costs - or as a way for landlords to increase income - according to a report released by furniture website MADE.com.

This growing shortage of space means that only half of Londoners consider their homes big enough to entertain visitors.

Today, modern furniture design is often space-conscious as well as being aesthetically pleasing. From truly comfortable sofa-armchairs and corner sofabeds, to hidden wall desks and console tables that magically open out to seat up to 10 people, multi-functional furniture should also be long-lasting and beautiful.

This year, MADE.com is asking aspiring designers to focus on space-saving, multi-tasking furniture ideas for modern-day living for their annual Emerging Talent Award. The winning design will be chosen by customers and produced and sold on their site within 12 months.

Ruth Wassermann, head of design, says: "We now need furniture to work really hard, especially as rising house prices mean it's not unusual to have a small flat, but a substantial income."

When buying furniture Wassermann recommends first thinking about how you use your space. She advises using masking tape on the floor to create an outline of the piece you're thinking about buying to get a good feel for how it will fit in with both your home and your lifestyle.

"Go with your gut in the first place - what you buy for your home should be an aesthetic choice as well as a functional one," she says. "If you're renting or buying your first home, veer towards practicality - think about what you can take with you or what you might leave behind. But if you're buying a piece of furniture for your forever home, go for what you really love."

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