Making the Most of a Small, Multipurpose Space

When it comes to living large in cramped quarters, the vintage modern New York City great room of Matt and Jodi Arden showcases small space and multipurpose decorating at its best.
Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
November 25, 2014

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

A Great Room That Lives Up to Its Name

TV executives Matt and Jodi Arden and their rescue dogs, Baxter and Teddy, relocated to New York City from Atlanta. They worked with an interior designer to maximize their 120-square-foot multipurpose great room as a family room, lounge, dining room and office.

Coffee Table for Casual Dining

To pack as much multipurpose function as possible into their great room, Matt and Jodi chose a coffee table with a top that hinges upward to create an informal dining surface. This allows the family room to also double as a place for casual dining.

Gather Round

A dark wood dining room table with a 42-inch round top allows Matt and Jodi to seat four to six people for meals. Round tables in small spaces are the best solution since there are no hard corners to crowd space needed for chairs. To ground the area and delineate it from the family room and office zones, a shag rug in the same shade of peacock blue was centered in the space.

New Meaning to the Term "Bookplates"

One side of the apartment's bookshelves is dedicated to open storage of Matt and Jodi's plates, bowls and glassware. This keeps items in arm's reach of the dining table rather than stored in the kitchen – an especially convenient layout for when guests are already seated and enjoying meals.

Big Dogs

In small spaces, scale and proportion of art to furniture are important in keeping the rooms from feeling busy or cluttered. Matt and Jodi had a film negative of Baxter and Teddy printed and framed 6-foot-by-30-inches tall, in check with the scale of their L-shaped sofa.

Quite a Pair

Matt's Emmy® Awards are on display front and center on bookshelves facing the office area. Each night when he arrives home after a long day of work, he is instantly greeted by the pair of statues and by his other favorite pair in the home, rescue dogs Baxter and Teddy.

Room to Lounge

In its pre-existing state, Matt and Jodi's family room area had odd dimensions that made it difficult to place a sofa properly. To maximize seating in their family room and lounge area, Matt and Jodi chose an L-shaped sectional with a left-arm chaise. The seating arrangement took full advantage of the corner space and the 8-foot wall behind the sofa. The area was delineated from the nearby dining room by an 8x10 grey jute boucle rug that helps mask Baxter and Teddy's fur.

Floor It

To eliminate the need for end tables, and to allow for more seating, the family room is lit by a floor lamp with an adjustable arm.

A Craigslist Score

In order to maximize storage for their video components, Matt and Jodi had a 7-foot 1960s dresser they scored for $35 on Craigslist outfitted as a media console. By removing the drawers, then reattaching the drawer fronts with hinges, their electronic and video components can be easily accessed or hidden.

Pillow Palette

To break up the room's dominant color, peacock blue, small touches of other colors — apple green, various shades of grey and robin's egg blue — were brought in on custom throw pillows and other accents.

Sleek Custom Shades

Since draperies along their window wall could make the space seem closed-in, Matt and Jodi had a custom Roman shade created in an inside-mount style. The colors from the fabric were the inspiration for the room's color scheme of peacock blue, white and apple green.

Swinging Swag

When Matt and Jodi first moved in, the corner they wanted to become their dining area had no light source. In order to use it as an ambience space to host dinner parties, they decided to have a plug-in pendant installed with swag hooks above the table. Since Matt and Jodi live in a rental, they were unable to have light fixtures permanently installed. By adding swag hooks to the ceiling above their dining table, what was previously a dark corner with no light is now perfectly lit from above with a vintage 1960s plug-in pendant made of smoked acrylic and stainless steel.

Office Space

Matt and Jodi sought the help of a designer friend to give purpose to the open space just off their apartment's entry. In order to use this as a private office space, the area needed to be separated somehow from the dining and living room areas.

Vintage Modern Style

The overall decorating style of Matt and Jodi's apartment is vintage modern. The graphic art was purchased online through and the chrome chairs were picked up at an Atlanta flea market, then reupholstered with brown aged leather.

Divide and Conquer

To give the open space just off the entry a purpose, yet keep the center of the area open for traffic flow in and out of the apartment, two pairs of ready-made bookshelves purchased from an office supply store were placed back-to-back to act as room dividers. On one side, Matt and Jodi have a private office, separate from the formal dining space and family room on the other side. The apartment's walls were painted peacock blue, which helps the walls recede so that accents of white and apple green stand out.

Back-to-Back Bookshelves

In order to give the ready-made bookshelves a custom, architectural look, Matt and Jodi had a contractor install the two pairs back-to-back. Once the bookshelves were attached to the walls with L-brackets, the exposed sides were clad with luan and trimmed out with 1x3 MDF (medium density fiberboard) paint in the same shade of white as the melamine shelves.

Shop This Look