Squeeze More Use From the Same Old Space
By: Rose Bennett Gilbert
Q: Our sons can no longer share a room — the high schooler really needs a quiet place to study. So, we are converting the den to a bedroom for the 8-year-old and will move the bunk bed in there for him. The problem is, the room left to the older boy is too small to fit both a regular bed and a desk. Help! We need a shoehorn!
A: Better than a shoehorn: Adapt the clever space-making idea we show here. Keep the bunk bed in the smaller room and put the space beneath it to work as a study area for your student. Add a lamp and perhaps a small file caddy on wheels for extra storage, and your son’s on his way to the honor roll. The pictured cherry bunk bed and desk are from Young America Youth Furniture; see Stanley Furniture at www.stanleyfurniture.com.
Doubling-up makes great sense wherever space is tight. We borrowed this idea and photo from a new book full of such creative solutions: “Right-Sizing Your Home” (Northwest Arm Press) by veteran design expert, Gale Steves.
Former editor of magazines like Home and Ladies’ Home Journal, Steves has a great hand at making every square inch count (an earlier book was “Home Magazine’s Best Little Houses”). To help their children develop good study habits, Steves says parents should create “a quiet workspace at home, free from the distraction of TV, music or games. Ultimately having a workspace of their own is important,” she emphasizes, no matter where you manage to squeeze it into your house.
More “right-sizing” ideas from the author:
— Rethink spaces. For example, you might turn a wide hallway into a study hall with room for several computers, shared equipment and parental supervision.
— Reimagine rooms. If, say, your living room is underused, rename it. Maybe a “chat room” will draw more attention from the family.
— Rearrange things. It can make the same old furnishings look fresh and new again. Just do your rearranging on a floor plan before you start pushing the furniture around, Steves advises.
Q: We have bought a house the realtor describes as a “Dutch colonial.” What kind of furniture will be appropriate?
A. What’s in a name? Nothing to be alarmed about when it comes to decorating.
Your home must be in the New York/ New Jersey area, which is about the only part of the New World where the Dutch had any influence on our domestic life. And even there, it was brief — a scant half-century or less before the English elbowed them aside.
You’ll be in the right idiom if you stick with what we call “colonial style” today, and never mind its provenance. Think traditional, comfortable and slightly rustic furniture with simple fabrics, such as checks, plaids and calicoes. Think wide-planked wood floors, simple crown mouldings, and painted paneling and/or small-patterned wallpapers.
If you still want to give a nod to your house’s “Dutch” ancestry, think blue-and-white tiles, for example, on a splashback or around the fireplace. You might even hang a little curtain like a short valance across the mantelpiece — another Dutch touch that’s been recreated in the intriguing series of New York historical interiors in the Museum of the City of New York. Recently refurbished and worth the trip to 103rd St. and Fifth Ave., the series traces the evolution of furnishings from the founding of “New Amsterdam” in 1625 to the turn of the 20th century. Learn more at www.mcny.org.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of “Manhattan Style” and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at creators.com.
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