Small Space Decorating: Solutions for the Bedroom and Home Office

Small space? No sweat! See how one Brooklyn couple maximized their loft apartment for ample room to work from home and sleep comfortably, and you can, too.

Use Art as an Anchor

Online lifestyle editor Briana and her boyfriend Buzz, a mobile developer, intended the bedroom in their Brooklyn loft to have an airy, calm, Palm Springs-inspired feeling. Yet the expansive wall behind their bed seemed impossible to fill and they knew small pieces would just make the space feel cluttered or jammed. By opting for one large piece of art hung directly above the bed, they found their sleeping area was instantly anchored. The key to using art successfully in small spaces is to opt for large, over-scaled pieces. Art pieces like this instantly add a graphic focal point and also offer a single source of color to inspire paint and accessories that personalize the space.

Bedroom Before

Determined to make the most of their small space, Briana and Buzz sought an efficient space and lighting plan for their bedroom. To keep the surface of their nightstands clear for books and everyday items, the couple wanted a way to light the bedside area without taking up valuable tabletop space. In addition, they needed a solution for creating a temporary worktop surface for their laptops, one that would allow them to work from bed and to store their laptops on a surface rather than setting them down on the floor.

Plug It In

To add ample light to their sleeping area, Briana and Buzz opted for wall-mounted, plug-in sconces that don't require permanent hard wiring. By simply screwing the attachment to the wall, then plugging the cord into a nearby outlet, the look of custom, permanent lighting is achieved without long-term commitment or the steep cost of hiring an electrician. Another advantage of wall-mounted sconces is that table space is freed up, allowing surfaces to be used for other purposes.

Table It

Whether working late on web-based projects or watching DVDs, Briana and Buzz needed space for their laptops in their bedroom. To add instant workspace without creating clutter, the couple added a C-table to the side of the bed that keeps their laptops perfectly within reach. The bottom of the table has a C-shaped frame that tucks underneath the bed, keeping it securely supported and out of the way.

Sneaky Storage

Briana and Buzz store their laptops inside the C-table, which has a top that lifts up to reveal concealed storage. The table also doubles as a small serving surface for breakfast and drinks in bed.

Floating Photo as a Focal Point

To give the illusion of space to their 10-by-11-foot bedroom, Briana and Buzz stuck with a light, airy color scheme and chose pieces with enough visual weight to anchor the room. An original, framed piece of photography provided a strong focal point and small bursts of orange were used as accents.

Hanging Out

The biggest inspiration piece for Briana and Buzz's bedroom was a framed original photograph Buzz took of a palm tree in Palm Springs. With no obvious wall space as a focal point, the couple decided to suspend the photograph in front of the window. The artwork was securely installed with heavy-gauge picture wire attached by an L-bracket to the drywall above the window.

Workspace Before

Before establishing a solid space plan to create a workspace for Buzz, plus provide extra space for guests to sleep on air mattresses, the area was cluttered by large storage items such as boxes, shelves and bicycles.

A Multi-Purpose Workspace

Briana and Buzz like to use the 8-by-10-foot upstairs landing of their loft primarily as Buzz's workspace; however, it needs to allow room for guests to sleep on the floor with air mattresses. By keeping the space utilitarian and mobile, Buzz can work in a clutter-free space that can easily be changed up to accommodate up to three overnight guests at a time.

Wallpaper for Renters

Briana had always wanted graphic, 1970s-era wallpaper somewhere in the loft; however, hanging permanent wallpaper in a rental seemed impractical. After searching online, she found temporary wallpaper called Tempaper that sticks to walls like a huge sticker or decal. Once one roll is in place, the next is lined up so that the repeating pattern matches up, creating a continuous look throughout the space. Although the area is tight on space, the pattern on the wall takes the focus off its lack of square footage.

Keep Clutter Tucked Away

Before moving into the loft, Buzz already owned his classic, industrial-modern desk. It is equipped with a hidden shelf that slides out from under the desktop and holds things that may otherwise make the desk feel cluttered. By simply sliding the shelf back under, things like keyboards, envelopes, passports and cell phones are kept tucked away while remaining easily accessible.

Roll With It

In order for the upstairs area of Briana and Buzz's loft to function as a temporary spot for guests in addition to a full-time workspace for Buzz, it was important that each piece of furniture be as easy to move as possible. Casters at the bottom of his desk allowed it to easily roll from the center of the space to a wall, opening up enough floor space to house up to three air mattresses.

Stay Wired

Something to keep in mind when placing desks in the center of a room is wire management. Most modern desks have 2-inch holes that allow wiring to be tucked through the top, then under the desk where they remain hidden from view. To retroactively add this feature to an older desk, use a two-inch paddle bit to drill a hole where needed.

Stack It Up

Mobilized wire shelving is an excellent option for small spaces. With so many different uses, it's an investment that can grow with the homeowner. Although Buzz currently uses his configuration simply to house his printer and other office components, he can add onto it later —vertically or horizontally — to serve new needs that may emerge.

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