Small Space Ideas for the Bedroom and Home Office
After successfully maximizing the modest 200-square-foot open concept plan of their Brooklyn loft's living room and kitchen, creative couple Briana and Buzz braved new waters to take on their first-floor bedroom and second-floor balcony workspace. Both spaces shared the challenge of awkward room dimensions. The workspace was tight, cramped and colorless. The bedroom had a modest 10-by-11-foot floor area, plus the added challenge of a soaring ceiling that dwarfed the room's furnishings. As if these complications weren't enough, the couple needed to equip each room to serve both as a place for slumber and for working from home. Naturally, Briana and Buzz turned to many of the ideas Briana has been writing or blogging about as an online lifestyle editor. Through clever furniture selections and the art of multipurpose design, they created streamlined rooms that balanced scale, proportion and color – maximizing every inch of space along the way.
While the first-floor bedroom was packed with an abundance of natural light streaming in from a 12-by-10-foot combination window/sliding glass door, its overall 10-by-11-foot dimensions were tight. The room's soaring 22-foot ceiling presented a decorating challenge to keep the space grounded; furniture placed in the room was instantly in danger of being dwarfed by the room's enormous height.
First up on the couple's list was to determine the overall direction for the look and feel of the bedroom. The room's ample natural light and modern architecture encouraged the couple to draw inspiration from one of their favorite vacation spots, sunny Palm Springs, California. Known for its mid-century modern style and breathtaking sunsets, Palm Springs provided the perfect reference point for the couple's choice of furniture and color. Keeping in mind the principles of modern architecture – which include selecting low-profile furniture, capitalizing on natural light and keeping surfaces sparse – Briana and Buzz opted for a platform bed, dainty Danish modern nightstands made from walnut, and added a pair of white wire 1950s chairs with bold orange vinyl upholstery. Briana recalls, "Unfortunately, though the pieces were all the right scale and definitely fit the space stylistically, our huge ceiling still made everything seem disconnected."
For guidance, Briana turned to one of her designer friends. He advised the expansive bedroom space could be visually anchored by a large piece of art that would fill the space above the bed at the right proportion. This would take the focus off the awkward dimensions of the room, bringing attention onto the shape and color of the art itself. As far as art selection was concerned, a print by Jonathan Adler from artthatfits.com not only evoked the mid-century vibe of their source of inspiration, Palm Springs, but also had tones reminiscent of the city's sunsets: orange, pink and purple. With orange as the couple's favorite color, they chose graphic striped bedding in a tangerine tone that picked up on the color in the artwork as well as the wire chairs just a few feet away. The couple opted for a floating frame to keep the colorful, retro piece feeling light, and the art was sized 3-by-3 feet, to stay in check proportionately with the scale of the bed.
Meanwhile, the couple ran into another challenge: how to keep the surfaces of their bedroom nightstands uncluttered. As creative professionals, Briana and Buzz needed to be able to work on their laptops from bed a few nights a week, so they eagerly sought a solution to house task lighting. To light the sleeping area properly without taking up valuable nightstand tabletop space, the designer suggested attaching sconces directly to the walls roughly 20 inches above the tops of the nightstands. Immediately in love with the idea, the couple bought a pair of mid-century modern Nelson sconces in a shape referred to as "cigar," then a hired handyman attached them into studs with screws. This solution was ideal for the couple's rented loft, since the sconces simply plug into outlets instead of being hard-wired into junction boxes. This solution also allows Briana and Buzz to take their sconces with them once they move out. "Sconces in our small space are life-changing," Briana adds. "Now we have proper lighting at night, and it frees up the surface space of our nightstands for books and magazines."
With the sleeping area nearly complete, the creative couple turned their focus to creating space for their laptops. After looking online, Briana came across a popular trend in modern furniture, the C-table. Shaped like the letter C so that the bottom curves up over the top of a seating surface and the bottom slides underneath a sofa or a bed, these tables offer a small surface at the right height for working on laptops when lounging. This solution was ideal not only for adding temporary workspace but also for providing a hinged top where laptops and books could be stored inside when not in use.
Although the sleeping area was now functional and aesthetically pleasing, it seemed incomplete. The very last design element for the bedroom was to create a focal point from the doorway. Ideally the couple wanted to feature a framed photograph of a palm tree Buzz took while in Palm Springs, the room's main source of inspiration. Yet the loft's dimensions made it difficult to find wall space on which to display the artwork. At the advice of a lifestyle producer friend, Briana pitched the idea of suspending the photograph in the center of the window. Buzz agreed and the outcome was exactly what they'd hoped. The entire room now met their needs, providing a space at once functional and relaxing – all while invoking that clean, mid-century modern vibe Palm Springs is known for.
With the bedroom complete, the couple started to brainstorm solutions for their open loft space. It would be used primarily as Buzz's workstation, but had to also double as extra sleep space where up to three guests could sprawl out on air mattresses. Briana saw the project as an opportunity to play with pattern, especially since the space was lacking in character. She came across a self-sticking wallpaper known as Tempaper that was created for renters unable to hang permanent wallpaper in their apartments or lofts. With the help of a handyman, Briana covered the walls of the space in a shiny silver mid-century modern pattern that coordinated well with the look and feel of the bedroom downstairs.
In order to ensure plenty of workspace without eating up the entire 8-by-10-foot area, Buzz opted for an industrial-modern desk that he centered in the room. Since the desk was not pushed up against a wall, the arrangement made the room instantly seem larger. This was also helpful in creating extra space for the couple's bikes, which need to be wheeled in and out of the space frequently. Keeping in mind that mobility was key to make room for air mattresses to accommodate guests, Buzz stuck with pieces on casters that could be easily rolled out of the way.
Choosing the right desk for the space was the most important design element for the upstairs work area. In addition to casters, Buzz chose a desk that would reduce clutter. To avoid a tangle of messy cords, the desk is outfitted with integrated wire management thanks to a pair of 2-inch holes placed towards the back of the top. The desk also featured hidden shelving to contain many of the things Buzz needs on a day-to-day basis, keeping the items within reach yet clutter free.
With both of these spatially challenged spaces maximized, Briana and Buzz now have ample space to work from home and sleep comfortably. And now, when company comes in to town, there's plenty of space upstairs for them to stretch out. After having successfully applied space-saving solutions to all the main spaces of their loft, the couple has become hooked on small space decorating. Briana adds, "We're kind of becoming addicted to maximizing our space, but we've almost run out of rooms to make over. I think our teeny-tiny bathrooms may be next!"