A Sleeping-Space Solution

New Yorkers Sarah Raskin and John Kerl needed to turn a portion of their small apartment living room into a separate bedroom-like area. Thankfully designer Brian Patrick Flynn had a plan.

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The redesigned living room has two defined areas: a sleeping space for tween daughter, Emily, and a family room for the entire Kerl-Raskin clan.

New Yorkers Sarah Raskin and John Kerl love their Brooklyn apartment -- a lot. Sarah notes, "Our place is perfect for us! We're close to all the excitement of Manhattan and Brooklyn's more bustling neighborhoods, while being far enough out to get some peace and quiet. Not to mention, we have a sizable space that is actually affordable."

When the married couple (he's a software engineer, and she's a public health researcher) discovered they were expecting their first baby together (adding to their family that already included John's tween daughter, Emily) they were quick to ask me for help. With their guest room already outfitted as a nursery for the baby -- a girl they'd name Orly -- their biggest issue was figuring out how to turn a portion of their 16x10 living room into a separate bedroom-like area for Emily, who lives with her mother in Arizona during the school year then with John and Sarah in the summer. In addition to accommodating visits from Emily, the couple also needed extra space for Emily's niece, Ryanne, who lives with her in Arizona. As far as design projects go, this was a tall order. Lucky for me I'm 6' 5" and love a good challenge.

When Sarah, John and I first met at their Greenwood Heights neighborhood home, Sarah couldn't stress her frustration with spatial planning enough. The eager and optimistic mother-to-be explains, "We were having a really hard time figuring out how to continue to give Emily her own space while also making room for Orly. Plus we wanted to make sure that we had somewhere to spend time all together -- a place where we could rock Orly to sleep as a family, then play Wii or Scrabble as three once she was in her crib. We decided to turn our unique challenge over to a pro and just give a designer free rein." Since I'm well experienced with small-space design and live in a spatially challenged house myself, it immediately occurred to me that the solution was all about partition and separation.

First up was creating a furniture plan that could be separated into two zones without visually shrinking the space. In order to plan properly, Sarah and John needed to get rid of their existing pieces -- ones that didn't work well for the living room in regard to scale and proportion.

John comments, "Getting rid of most of our old stuff was pretty easy. While it was difficult at first to decide what to keep and how to store it, we soon found it liberating to discover what our essential belongings were (and were not!). We uploaded things to craigslist and had interest almost right away. In just a few hours many of our pieces were in good hands."


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