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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Although smaller furniture such as the coffee table, dining table and folding chairs were easy to find new owners for, John and Sarah's bulky rolled-arm leather sleeper sofa was another story. Sarah explains, "I had no idea how hard it was to get rid of a sofa -- even to give it away! A note for all you New Yorkers out there trying to get rid of sofas on craigslist: it's harder than you think! After days with no response, we tried to donate it, and still no one was interested -- due to its size and how hard it would be to get from one place to another. The usual charity thrift stores turned it down because it had a few minor dings on the side from being moved. One charity committed to take it but couldn't schedule pick-up for less than a month away! At one point I was ready to just stand out on the sidewalk and pay someone however much they wanted just to take it!" Just a few days later, after asking everyone they knew over social media, Sarah and John found the perfect fit in another charity that was able to take it sooner. With the sofa gone, the living room was now completely empty, and my space plan was underway.
In order to give Emily a space to sleep and lounge without John and Sarah having to sacrifice their area for watching TV and entertaining guests, I'd need to add a room divider, one that would fit in architecturally and work well with the decoration for both Emily's area as well as the living room. After searching for ideas on Pinterest, I collaborated with New York-based industrial designer and former Design Star contestant, Dan Faires, who designs furniture made entirely from reclaimed materials. With both of us on the same page for the overall design style of the room -- transitional, packed with muddy green and brown tones and a plethora of rustic texture -- Dan and I decided to use darkly stained 10-inch tall pine planks installed horizontally to create a modern partition that could also function as a place for Emily to hang up jackets, purses and backpacks. As far as how tall and wide to make it, we decided to take it almost all the way up to the ceiling, allowing light to pour in from the nearby window. To ensure the partition didn't completely overpower the space, we kept it just under six and a half feet wide.
With the biggest change in place, and the walls and ceilings painted the same shade of olive green, Dan and I next turned our focus to Emily's bed. Since the entry door is only a few feet away, it was important to position the bed in a manner that wouldn't make Emily feel as though she was sleeping up against the front door. The solution was to place a twin bed horizontally up against the wall, creating more of a daybed or lounge-like feel rather than having the bed jut out 75 inches (a standard twin is 35 inches wide by 75 inches long). In order to add separation between the bed and the rest of the living room, custom floor-to-ceiling draperies were sewn from celery-toned slubby basket weave cotton, then installed on galvanized metal conduit and flanges directly into the ceiling joists. When Emily is ready for bed, the draperies can be drawn closed, instantly making the lounge-like area feel like a separate room.
Next we focused on creating a family room seating area that would give John and Sarah ample storage for their extensive book collection as well as a flat panel TV that could be concealed when not in use. After installing an IKEA media system with concealing door fronts along the entire entry wall, all books and electronics were accounted for, and we turned our attention to the actual furniture. With only 11 feet of width and nine feet of depth with which to arrange seating, the design of the family room's seating area became all about scale and proportion. They wanted a glider in the seating area to rock Orly comfortably, a coffee table with integrated storage, and a sofa or love seat cozy enough to curl up on and fall asleep. Sarah notes, "We're all about comfort and togetherness. While we love a great looking sofa, how it feels is most important. Being covered in machine-washable slipcovers is a huge bonus in terms of making a long-lasting choice for our growing family."
Bold strokes of color and distinctive finishes and fabrics prove you can have it both ways.