Shared Space Decorating Ideas

Not sure how to make a small space multifunctional? City-dwellers Sarah Raskin and John Kerl turned their bonus room into a guest bedroom/baby nursery with some smart decorating ideas and storage solutions.

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Although the room is primarily baby Orly's, a concealed Murphy bed can easily fold out for overnight guests.

When Sarah Raskin and John Kerl moved into their Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment, they loved the luxury of having a bonus room, especially for its ability to house extra storage. Then, as more and more guests started to visit, the bonus room took on new purpose as a space for overnight guests. Just a few months later, the room would again need to be re-oriented, this time as a nursery for their newborn daughter, Orly. The excited, yet spatially challenged new mom explains, "We knew that Orly would spend most of her time in our room for the first few months of her life, both to bond as a new little family and to keep the bonus room available to house all of our family and friends who came to meet her and help us. Our plan was to convert the bonus room to a nursery once Orly started sleeping through the night. We knew that using the bonus room as an overnight guest room and then a nursery would mean giving up its storage space, which would also mean doing some serious purging."


After Sarah reached out to my team and me to make the most of the 11- by 10-foot space, we decided to give it a warm, vibrant aesthetic, which is stimulating enough for a baby or toddler, yet muted enough for overnight guests. As far as how we would lay out he space, it all came down to modularity and scale. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the key to furnishing small spaces is going big with furniture, ensuring that both form and function are in check visually and practically.

First up on our list was adding a bed without taking up too much space. Since Sarah and John had recently invested in a Murphy bed, we decided to keep it, but give it an update. Sarah comments: "That Murphy bed was one of the best investments we've ever made. It's been a total lifesaver because we, like most New Yorkers, have lots of visitors but can't afford an apartment with dedicated overnight guest space. It's way more comfortable than an air mattress or pull-out sofa. We liked the cherry laminate finish well enough for a guest space but found it a bit too mature for a baby's room." In order to make the Murphy bed work aesthetically with the room's new color scheme, I decided to have a custom design printed on adhesive, re-stickable vinyl, the same material used on storefront windows. The design features Orly's name printed in several different fonts with a color scheme of taupe, muted orange, bright tangerine and white — the same colors that would be used throughout the space. To attach the vinyl, my contractor and I had to map out exactly where we wanted each portion of the pattern to sit, then position accordingly, cutting away the excess with a utility knife.

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