Getting the most out of a small space



QUESTION:

We recently bought a home that is 40 years old. The bedroom that is now my 12-year-old daughter's is only 8 1/2 by 8 1/2 feet. I would like some economical suggestions on furniture to maximize space and storage and still have a place for her to hang out. She is really frustrated.

-Tammey D.


ANSWER:


Dear Tammey,
The key to decorating a small space is to maximize function as well as storage. Clever storage ideas and multipurpose furnishings are indispensable. Clutter control is also vital, so that the overall look of the room is clean and not crowded. Utilizing as much of the vertical space as possible will help you free up much-needed floor space. Decorating with light colors will keep the room feeling airy, while dark colors will make it feel more intimate.

Have you considered loft beds? A loft bed has a top bunk with plenty of room underneath for a study area or alternative hangout. Most configurations are no larger than 7 feet long and 4 feet wide. For your 12-year-old daughter, it could create a wonderful personal space and provide useful room below.

If the loft bed idea seems too large for your daughter's room, consider a trundle bed or a captain's bed. A captain's bed rests on a stacked arrangement of drawers and doors, providing lots of valuable storage space. When I was little, my best friend's brother had a pair of captain's beds in his room, and I thought they were the coolest.

Another way to create the illusion of space would be to remove the door if it opens into the bedroom. The swing of a standard door restricts a 30-inch arc of usable floor space. You can replace it with a folding door or heavy velvet curtains. You may also want to mirror one of the walls -- or a section of a wall -- from floor to ceiling. This will help the room look more spacious and reflect light. As for storage, baskets that tuck neatly under the bed are a great place for your daughter to store things that she uses often. Keeping "stuff" to a minimum by regularly passing along outgrown clothes and books to children who need them will also help keep the room feeling uncluttered.

Some of the places to get inspired on the Web include:

www.pier1kids.com
www.bergfurniture.com
www.stanleyfurniture.com
www.sauder.com
www.kidsquartersonline.com
www.bunksnstuff.com
www.collegebedlofts.com (This site has by far the most "no frills" basic system out there.)

Remember, this is your daughter's room, so keep her personal wants in mind when choosing paint colors and furnishings.


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