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The next must-have piece of furniture? Hastings resident creates the multi-purpose 'lofa'

Hastings resident Tim Hemstad sits on his lofa, a piece of furniture he designed and built himself. Star Gazette photos by Katrina Styx1 / 2
Underneath the table are several cubby holes for storage. 2 / 2

Anyone who has lived in a small space knows that fitting furniture can be a problem, especially when dealing with large pieces like a sofa, a coffee table, bookshelves and extra seating for visitors.

The challenge is one that Hastings resident Tim Hemstad knows well. Originally from Bemidji, he was living in Duluth with his wife, working at his first job out of college. They shared a cozy one-bedroom upstairs apartment in a college house.

“It was miniscule,” he said. “There was just nowhere to sit.”

Whenever they had visitors, they usually ended up sitting on pillows on the floor or leaning up against the coffee table. But the behavior inspired an idea for a new piece of furniture, something he calls a “lofa.”

It sits in place of a coffee table and serves not only as a table but also a bookshelf or storage space and extra seating on the floor. And, since the edges of the table portion are padded, it’s also something you can put your feet up on.

“I find myself using it as an ottoman all the time,” Hemstad said.

Although it might not be easy for those with mobility issues to take advantage of the on-the-floor seating, it does seem to work well for teens and young adults. It’s also incredibly popular with children.

“The kids just jump on this thing,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Hemstad has come up with original ideas. He’s always had an artistic and design focused mindset, he said. If he sees a space that needs something unique, he comes up with something to get the job done.

He also has considerable design and construction training backing his efforts. Since high school he’s worked for a number of contractors doing building and framing work, and he got into woodworking and tech classes before he graduated. He went to college at Dunwoody, where he studied drafting and design, which honed his skills. After college he did roof truss design and now is in the countertop industry, working for Innovative Surfaces. All that experience has definitely taught him a few things, he said.

Hemstad made his first lofa about 10 years ago. He’s made just a few more since then, and he’s improved on his design as well.

Lately, Hemstad has let his friends convince him to build lofas to sell, and he’s in the early stages of doing just that. But instead of making one and hoping he can find a buyer, he’s working on selling them as custom-ordered pieces. He can prebuild the parts, he said, and work with the customer to pick custom fabrics to match their décor. Details can be found by searching for “lofa” on Craigslist.

And what about the name? Hemstad said it’s because it serves as a low sofa.

“Lofa seemed to make sense,” he said.