Cherry KitchenPablo Uribe believes that the keys to a comfortable atmosphere are effective organization of space and manipulation of light, principles the Columbia-born architect puts into action for clients on both sides of the Atlantic. In London, Pablo and his architectural partner Rob Baines took an 800-square-foot, compartmentalized, ground floor apartment in a 100-year-old Victorian mansion and opened it up, creating a bright, flowing, multipurpose space serving as both home and design studio. The interior is modern, but not cold — with cherry wood floors, fine imported furniture and art.
Pablo eliminated all nonstructural walls and converted the second bedroom into a dining/social area with a built-in bench. Floor-to-ceiling cherry panels conceal storage cabinets, and as an article in The Independent stated, "this place has storage like the rest of us have junk." Kitchen appliances are also concealed behind cherry wood cabinets. At the back of the kitchen sits a desk lit by the window, maximizing every last bit of space.
Floating WallIn place of a wall separating the corridor from the bedroom, Pablo installed a fitted wall of wardrobe cabinets with openings on either end acting as entrances to the room. The back of the wardrobe serves as the wall behind the bed. A sliding door comes out of the wardrobe to close the room off. The wall opposite the bed has exposed brick, illuminated with floor lights.
Standalone FireplaceWhen Jens Bogehegn began to design his dream home in one of the last surviving Chicago Fire Relief Cottages, he hadn't even met his wife yet. But he remodeled with the knowledge that eventually there would be a partner joining him in this 740-square-foot home — even thinking ahead enough to build a luxurious vanity for his future wife.
Jens wanted to create a cabin atmosphere, and that sense of coziness is achieved by the two-sided fireplace and deep wood cabinetry. The standalone fireplace divides the living and dining areas while keeping the space open and warm. By removing the wall that separated the kitchen from the living space, he gave the space a much airier, open feel. He still wanted a distinction between the rooms, so he added a bar where the wall was, which serves as a breakfast table, counter space and even houses a dishwasher and built-in storage. The rest of the kitchen appliances, including a microwave and a beverage refrigerator, are hidden behind cabinetry, and even the refrigerator is built flush into the wall with panels for a nice clean line.
Multipurpose Laundry RoomThis spacious walk-in closet stores their clothes and is also the laundry room. Space-saving features include a pull-out ironing board and stackable washer/dryer. Another closet used to house a bulky water heater; by switching to a hanging on-demand water heater, the closet now has room to fit all of their coats and outerwear.
Built-In FlowThe kitchen cabinets flow beyond the kitchen into a bar area, an office nook and on to an entertainment center in the living room. The office nook has plenty of built-in storage for work supplies, CDs and DVDs. The shaker-style wood cabinetry reinforces the cabin ambience and provides plenty of organized storage. The built-ins get narrower as they approach the front door, so that there isn't a bulky piece of furniture at the entrance. If you do have a big piece of furniture by the door, try hanging a mirror on it to visually open up the space.
Color CrazyJeanie Engelbach has been living in this 850-square-foot East Village apartment for 12 years — and boy has it evolved. It started out as a gross, cookie cutter rental that felt really small. (Although it's actually the largest home of any of her friends with the exception of "those who married well.") Over the years, Engelbach has painted her walls — 14 different colors. And not wimpy colors either. Some are pale, others pop, but somehow they all meld together beautifully and make the perfect backdrop for her many, many kitschy collections (from Pez dispensers and bottle caps, to bobble heads and globes).
Even though the main room is one big space, Jeanie has arranged the furniture to create distinctive 'rooms.' The foyer leads to the living room, which abuts the library that opens to Little Bit's territory (her bulldog's chair). The dining area functions mostly as a work space for her thriving photo archiving business. A distressed Asian buffet houses all her work supplies and stereo equipment and allows for quick cleanup when meeting with clients at home. She describes the playful room as "a dash of PeeWee's Playhouse, a pop culture merchandise museum and a little dash of Romper Room."
Vintage LunchboxesJeanie's vintage lunchbox collection also makes excellent containers to store craft materials. She says nearly half of the items in her home are reworked "street finds." Her computer desk for example, was found in the trash outside. After reinforcing the sliding drawer and building a new top drawer, it now serves as a perfect laptop desk. Engelbach admits she'll never be a minimalist, but by keeping her collections clustered together and attractively arranged, she has created a visually striking home that's animated and even orderly.
Candy-Colored DreamsJeanie uses candy store colors — pinks, greens, purples — in her bedroom for sweet dreams every night. One creative storage feature in the corner of her bedroom is a revolving shelving unit with a full-length mirror on one side and open shelves for storing her t-shirts on the back. The sides are decoupaged with pictures of calendar pinup girls, and the edges are lined with bottle caps that frame miniature images. Because it revolves, she can turn the shelf side to the back, hiding the contents and showing off her creativity.
Glass GaloreRocio Romero built the first prototype for her LV home when she was living in Chile in 1999. Because construction is cheaper there, she was able to build the small, modern house for $35,000. When she returned to the United States, she wanted to figure out how to make a similar home for the same amount of money. Her solution was to design a pre-fab home to minimize labor. Rocio is now working on an even smaller version called the LV mini.
The LV is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, freestanding home that is designed to look much bigger than it is, by using high ceilings and lots of glass. All of the functional parts of the house are tucked into the spaces without windows—a small wall for the kitchen and an enclosed cube for the bathrooms. This allows the main living spaces to have large glass sliding doors, visually and psychologically borrowing space from the outdoors. With all that glass, Romero has still found a way to incorporate lots of covered storage to keep everything tucked away.
Modern Floor PlanThe kitchen, living room and dining room are open to each other and open to the outdoors through the expansive windows. The kitchen island provides storage accessible from each of the areas. Windows above the kitchen cabinets allow in more natural lighting and reflect off the sleek stainless steel countertops and white surfaces. There's even a window where the backsplash would be, showing that you can put a window in a nontraditional place.