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How would you decorate a small apartment to look bigger?

14 years ago

Here is the design challenge,

can you believe this? LOL...

Here is a link that might be useful: small apartment

Comments (44)

  • 14 years ago

    Wow. As a second home for weekends in NYC, that would be fine. But day-in day-out with a second person, no way.

  • 14 years ago

    OK, that's small, but at ten feet, it's still a foot wider than Edna St Vincent Millay's old digs in Manhattan, and because her building was three stories high, the lower floors had the stairs subtracted from that width. Makes ten feet seem pretty roomy.

    OK, if this place were mine, the first thing I'd do would be get rid of both that space-eating black hole of a bed & the cats, cover the floors with thick, solid-color wool plush carpet & order two custom-made fleece sleeping bags that matched the color of the carpet--nothing that can't be rolled up small or tossed into the wash. Sleeping on the floor sounds primitive, but I slept on the unpadded oak parquet of my first apartment for more than a year while I searched for a bed that wouldn't offend my eye, and I'll tell you this: I slept a hell of a lot better than I did on the lumpy cheap mattress/torture device I had in college. The only down side of sleeping on the floor was waking up with woodgrain patterns embossed on my face. That part tipped off my newly-married pals, who graciously offered me their old castoff beds when they bought their nuptual waterbeds--this was the 1970s--but as I politely explained to them, better to have nothing than something ugly. Too bad one guy thought I was talking about his girlfriend. Oh, well. Anyway, so that takes care of the sleeping arrangements.

    Since I don't much enjoy traveling, I'd cut out the trips & invest in a pair of solid vintage Louis XVI-style bergeres with fat down cushions & a mirrored-top Directoire-style metal campaign tripod table that could be folded flat & hung on the wall when not in use. I don't really cook either, but even takeout from Steak & Shake tastes better on a fancy table than it does eaten standing over the trash chute in the hallway. A simple lack of space shouldn't lower your standards. Cooking or no, I'd still need a place to put my toaster, and to make its shiny chrome less obvious, I'd replace that ugly countertop & cover the wall behind it with mirror a la Miles Redd's spiffy kitchen, then enclose the whole thing with a tall, wall-mounted multi-panel screen covered with an antique wallpaper mural or a gigantic blowup (properly aged) of a Piranesi engraving or a crisp black-&-white reproduction of Percier & Fontaine drawing, on which I could apply my paint-by-number skills.

    I tell ya, I could have a lot of fun with this place.

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  • 14 years ago

    Here's one nearly that small:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Nate Berkus and 250 sq ft

  • 14 years ago

    magnaverde, your not implying that you could live there
    full time are you? Our bedroom is 14 x 24, this whole apartment is less than 1/2 that space, and for two people.
    We would kill each other in that small space, especially in the morning when I'm grumpy.

    BTW, 14.9 x 10' is almost 150 square feet, not 175 as stated.
    That being said, it would be a fun decorating challenge, I would do a murphy bed first...
    then lots of mirrors to widen the space.

  • 14 years ago

    Since I have spent so much time in Manhattan at my DB's place...he has 1400 sq ft in a prewar by the park , I can surely identify with the love of this place, since money-wise it is CHEAP!!!! All I want to know is where they keep their bikes. I can't be there w/o my bike. I run too but you have to have a bike. I also would have to be able to cook some things. I LOVE to eat out but...I would also get rid of the "meows" and get airmattresses...pump free...and ...well I could have a wonderful time...DH could even fit his keyboard, which is a priority in our house. Ah well, as long as my DB is there and now DS2 moved to Long Beach this past weekend I don't really have to worry.

    Great post...c

  • 14 years ago

    Interesting article. I think the 175 square feet adds the 27 feet of the bathroom to the 10 x 14.9 livingroom.
    Good for them that they will have it paid off so quickly. They must be very disciplined to keep things so clean and spare. Things like having to pick up (and probably drop off)your clothes every single day at the cleaners could get old quick. I wonder how they will feel about the space after living there for a year or so.

    In terms of space usage, I would change the bed to allow for more storage below it. They mention having a Murphy bed in the future. I don't know how much that will help since you still need the floor space free for when the bed is open. I personally would devote way less space to alcohol storage, and would swap the wine rack/cabinet for something more storage efficient. I wouldn't give the kitties a big climbing unit, and would use that space for a chair. I would also like a small table (perhaps wall mounted which could fold flat against the wall when not in use.

    I thought the other link was also interesting. Seems like they built in a fair amount of storage, and a real kitchen(though I think a dishwasher in that size space is ridiculous). Very dramatic look, but that fabric everywhere seems like it would be awfully dusty (and hard to clean)in no time, particularly with cat hair and Manhattan soot.

  • 14 years ago

    Mirrors on ALL walls and ceilings as well as the floor most likely. And this in an attempt to not only make it look larger...but to make it harder for the spouse holding the gun (which will be eventually needed) to aim...

  • 14 years ago

    >that fabric everywhere seems like it would be awfully dusty (and hard to clean)in no time, particularly with cat hair and Manhattan soot.

    I'd have to agree. Even though I prefer traditional styling, I think something like those flat sliding fabric panels would have been more practical and given a more spacious feeling to the room.

  • 14 years ago

    Wow what a fun challenge. Not that I'd be able to live there for any length of time at this stage in my life. I like the wide open spaces of the rooms in our current home though it does make me feel selfish seeing as how people can make to do with so little space.
    It's way past my bedtime so I'll leave my ideas until tomorrow. I really enjoyed the Nate Berkus makeover, but I too would have left out the fabric and added nice sliding doors to all the wonderful storage space.

  • 14 years ago

    Dd lived for a year in a 5th floor tiny walkup in Williamsburg, I can relate to that appartment size. She had a rolling clothes rack on one wall; the 2 of us could cohabit nicely for a few days. She then moved to a bedroom in Union Square,
    for the same price. The kitchen and LR were shared, it worked out well.
    The 2 places were one grand a month. Only in NYC, lol.........

    That couple sure seem well organized; they said they don't cook there.

  • 14 years ago

    "And this in an attempt to not only make it look larger...but to make it harder for the spouse holding the gun (which will be eventually needed) to aim..."

    The only problem with your scenario is where on earth would you hide the body? The place is just too small and the only access is a staircase leading from the 16th floor LOL. It just wouldn't work, igloo, but I'm with you on this one. My almost 1500 sq. ft. house is feeling mighty spacious this morning ;o)

  • 14 years ago

    I suspect they have serious plumbing issues...note TWO! cans of Drano sitting next to their cappucino maker. Somewhat unappetizing.

    I have visions of them just aimlessly wandering, wandering, wandering the streets of NYC. :)

    Whoever has the wall side of the bed obviously does NOT have "plumbing issues" in the middle of the night. Short of crawling over the other person there's no escape!

    Couldn't they at least get a bed with more storage space underneath and lose the trunk...and the cats lol? Since they're never home....

    Not big art lovers are they?

  • 14 years ago

    Did you notice there isn't even a chair in the entire
    'apartment?' what do they do, use the bed for everything?
    Did you notice the Panini maker in the cabinet?
    I woke up this morning in my bedroom and my first thought was -- that
    entire apartment is less than half our bedroom, and they have to live in there all the time???
    I think it's like living in a jail cell. It disturbes me just to look at it.
    I truly believe is was meant for a weekend NYC getaway place for the Theatre,
    restaurants, museums, shows etc... not as a full time residence.
    What were they thinking?

  • 14 years ago

    Did you notice there isn't even a chair in the entire
    'apartment?' what do they do, use the bed for everything?


    They perch on the kitty's tower I suspect. :(

    There IS a lot that could be done...why not a sofa bed?

  • 14 years ago

    THIS is the best part:

    "We converted eight of them into four apartments," Goldschmidt said, with each apartment going for a little less than a half-million dollars.

    And they never eat at home/NO food in the space. What a dismal life IMHO.

  • 14 years ago

    The apt looks more like a makeshift dorm room than an apt. Even I can think of ways to make it work and look better.
    Perhaps they are channelling their inner college student- I didnt see a beer pong table though- probably under the bed. LOL
    For starters, if you dont cook why devote all that wall space to the play kitchen? there are much better ways to organize. And as to all the space for the alcohol storage- nuff said-that probably keeps the peace !

  • 14 years ago

    As far as Nate's makeover (in that link) goes, it's pretty--Lee Radziwill had a similarly-draped room back in the 1960s--but then, I think hers was done for effect, not to hide the fact that the room was basically a glorified closet. As for the dust issue with all that draped fabric, as Quentin Crisp used to say, after the the first three years it stops accumulating.

    No, my real issue is the way Nate not only yanked the poor woman's ceiling fan, but, with that tented ceiling, made it impossible for her to reinstall it once the camera crew went home.

    Don't get me wrong: I don't like ceiling fans any more than the next decorator, but face it, they do serve a purpose, especially for people without A/C, which I'm guessing is the case here. And when you combine the lack of a way to cool the place off with the fiery red in the entry area, stepping into this place on an August afternoon must be like walking into Hell itself. Improving the admittedly wretched former aesthetics is great, but screwing up normal day-to-day functions in the process is just bad design, and the end result--a sort of Urban Fairy Princess look that fails to adresss at least one basic need--smacks of Let-Them-Eat-Cakeism. Oh, well, at least the woman she was happy. For the moment.

    Magnaverde Rule No 16: Decorate for the life you really have, not the life you wish you had.

  • 14 years ago

    Reminds me of an apartment I rented for a year in Stockholm. Two people could live there you just have to like togetherness and do lots of stuff outside the house. It was perfect when I was young as on the weekdays I just slept/watched TV, fixed some dinner due to work and then weekends I always had lots of things going on, but I still spent some time at home. I couldn't afford to go out and eat.

    The one I rented had a loft bed (similar to what you see in kids rooms, but not kid size) and next to it an IKEA type wardrobe. I draped fabric around the bottom and used the inside as my closet and storage. I did cook and their kitchen looks like more cabinets than I had. The bath I had was slightly smaller with a different layout, but above the toilet was a nice cabinet to the ceiling that held a lot and a large mirrored cabinet in front of the sink.

    It had a wall mounted fold down table (1/2 circle). I got 2 foldable chairs to use there and I had a small love seat and a TV on a rolling cart. The latter two I already had. The love seat made it a little cramped on the kitchen side and a little tight to get to the wardrobe - everything was pushed against the walls. The entry door was much better placed than in their apartment though so allowed more use of the wall space for furniture.

    The best part about the apartment was the balcony. It had a really large one that wrapped around the corner and I had an awesome view. All the apartments in the building were really small so mostly young people lived there. Made it really fun too.

  • 14 years ago

    Yep, dorm room, hotel room, CLOSET reminiscent. I don't know that I can think inside the box on this one, or maybe I just don't want to... rather claustrophobic...

    Thanks for the laugh igloo, I'm sure you described me and DH were we to try to occupy that space for longer than a weekend.

  • 14 years ago

    Yes, there's that snobbery regarding ceiling fans rearing it's ugly head again...drives me bonkers. Nate said "gotta go!" to the one in his own NYC digs too. Of course we'd all rather have a beautiful overhead light but I'd really rather not sit drenched in perspiration admiring it.

    And yes... it's a dramatic space but done at the expense of stealing most of her natural daylight. Good thing he put in the chandy :(...she's going to need it.

    "Urban Fairy Princess"...gotta love it. :)

  • 14 years ago

    I find the room has great potential. I would curtain off in some sleek way one entire wall to a depth of about 6" and hang clothes on hangers flat against the wall, pegboard perhaps, and create shelves for all kinds of things and lose the wine rack. Bottles could go behind the drape.
    Small table and two chairs would replace the wine rack and cat playstation.
    I would keep a bed but raise it high enough for tremendous storage and I would have a cooktop, top notch toaster oven, trash can and small refrigerator.

    There are a lot of things they could do storage wise flat against the wall (and up) in various organizational ways that would allow them to keep it off the floor.
    Minimal color changes and patterns would help.

  • 14 years ago

    For four years we holed up in one bedroom while the downstairs was being renovated (no kitchen for 4 + years). The bedroom is 14 x 16. (We did have a separate bath and another bedroom that had things stuffed in it a la giant closet.

    One of us sat on the bed, one of us sat at a desk chair. For meals for relaxation for everything.

    We got so used to that even though the downstairs is done, we still spend most of our time in one room. We cook downstairs, we sometimes relax downstairs, but we mostly troop back up and sit on the bed or the desk chair (and we alternate :)

    We had friends that lived in an apartment in NY where you either all sat on their bed or you sat on the patio furniture sofa in the kitchen . I slept on that sofa many a weekend rather than pay for a hotel. Humans can be amazingly adaptable.

  • 14 years ago

    Years ago a designer named...John Yunis, I think-- tented his very small apartment more effectively, IMO. It was featured in MetHome. (or ElleDecor)

    He built shelves, narrow or wide depending, around the perimeter and then covered all 4 walls with grey pinstripe Flat Panels. They pulled back in front of the large window and the other areas for access. Inside this he had a minimal furniture arrangement. Since the panels were flat and heavy, they were easily vacuumed.

    It looked like a room with upholstered walls, and was not "drapey" or fussy at all...and it got a lot of light.

  • 14 years ago

    Loft bed, and desk underneath. Or, they take turns living in their car. Two cats?

  • 14 years ago

    OK so they run to work, grab their clothes along the there a shower at work? I wouldn't want to sit next to them.

  • 14 years ago

    I would go crazy.

    Out. Of. My. Mind.

    One of us would wind up dead!

  • 14 years ago

    If I lived there? I'd definitely drink a lot ....and dance! (Which my late DH and I did all about the house as a rule. :))

    NO they sit on the bed and drink champagne with the overheads blazing. Maybe there's a candle tucked away somewhere?

  • 14 years ago

    Well someone else mentioned a loft bed, which is just what I'd do since it looks like there is plenty ceiling height. I would also extend that area against the back wall to the window wall for storage of bedding that can be pulled out when needed. If so you could have enough room for closet and storage space underneath it. I don't know as if I'd put a desk under it since storage space is so lacking in this place. With the added storage under the bed they could use the kitchen cabinets for what they were meant for. Dishes and food and start saving money for a larger place by eating at home. Heck with all the booze they buy they could save even more if they cut down on that. Does one really need to stock up that much booze?

    And whoever thought they didn't have a shower in their bathroom, they do. It off to the right. You can see the drain in the floor in the 4th picture.

    Please tell me I didn't see the draino next to their cappuchino machine. YUCK! Kind of dangerious, don't you think?

    I'd replace the wine rack with a custom floor to ceiling combo ET center, bookcase and storage. There could be ample space made for their booze in this unit too.

    As for the kitty tower, if you have kitties you know they NEED to be high. It's their nature. Plus they love to stretch whether they have claws or not. I want a cutom on that also had some storage area for food, extra kitty litter and toys. Oh and the bottom would be utilized as their enclosed litter box.

    Instead of the storage ottoman at the foot of the bed again I'd have a custom storage unit built against the wall at the right angle of the window/heater. It could get deeper after a safe space above the heater and end where the bedding storage in the loft area starts.

    As for the kitchen I'd add an extra mini fridge (smaller than the current one) under the kitchen sink since the litter box will have a new home. Ofcourse one would have to scour that area with bleach first even if the food will be inside of the fridge. And with all the storage under the bed I'd use the pantry on the left for a real panty adding a pull-out drawer system. I'd also install better storage under the sink for things like their draino but make sure to use toddler door locks to keep the kitties from getting to it.

    And last of all I'd find a small loveseat, actually as small as they are a chair and a half would probably work better size-wise, to back up against the loft, which I forgot to mention would be closed in with a 2x4 framing with wall on the outside, but not on the inside, every inch of space is needed for storage, with a small doorway built in at the foot of the bed.

    I have no clue other than the price why anyone would buy such a place if they had no clue how to organize at all! Personally I would love to really have the job of organizing spaces like this. What an awesome challenge. THANKS JOAN!

  • 14 years ago

    This condo was being discussed in the *Small Homes Forum*.

    I'm glad someone brought it over here. There are more great ideas for small home decorating brought up here than over in the *Small Home Forum*.

    Check to see what they all say:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Condo

  • 14 years ago

    "There are more great ideas for small home decorating brought up here than over in the *Small Home Forum*. "

    that's not really surprising though is it? the smaller homes forum hardly gets any traffic and this forum get a gazzillion posts a day so you would hope with heaps more people you'd get a lot more ideas and input.

  • 14 years ago

    I've always siad that living in a small house is like living on a boat. There's a place for everything and everything in it's place.
    That apartment would be like living on an inflatable dinghy.

  • 14 years ago

    I could live in something that size, after all you have the city as your backyard. And I could see eating out all the time, even if it were take out. Not that different than living in a dorm room for years although I wouldn't want to, of course.

  • 14 years ago

    OK ... they are using it like a hotel room, not really living there.

    And for $150,000 it's cheaper than commuting and parking.

  • 14 years ago

    After reading this, looking at the pictures and coming up with the ideas I wrote about above I dreamed about doing it all night long! What fun dreams!

  • 14 years ago

    Re: "all the booze". It was mentioned in the article that he gets a discount from his employer (liquor dist)only if he buys by the CASE.

  • 14 years ago

    Mrsmarv, you crack me up. Best line of the whole thread.

  • 14 years ago

    Don't whole families in Tokyo live in tiny apartments? Certainly there are other places in the world where people live in small quarters.

    I would guess, as with so many other things in life, it's simply a matter of what you get used to.

  • 14 years ago

    "Don't whole families in Tokyo live in tiny apartments?"

    While whole generations of families in Japan live in very crowded quarters, Japan is ranked 8th in suicides among all countries (2007 report). The countries ranked above them are Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Latvia. Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates, especially among industrialized nations.

    Do you think there's a correlation between living in such claustrophibic quarters and depression? I know I'd be depressed as he!! living in that 'apartment'.

  • 14 years ago

    I would think so....but I don't really. I think it's more about the Japanese code of honor that prefers death to anything dishonorable - and as we are all flawed humans we tend to do dishonorable things now and then but most of us deal with our sins and move on in life.
    Of course, cramped quarters would make most people cranky.

  • 14 years ago

    I had thought that my 785 square foot condo was one of the smallest on GardenWeb, but perhaps I'm wrong!

    Honestly, I don't think you need to make every decision with "bigger" in mind, but I'm naturally attracted to things with reasonable scale and never liked things that were overstuffed.

    Since I hung curtains at the top of the wall in the living room, I have gotten comments about the room feeling taller, though. :)

    Anyway, I love that NYC aunt says my condo is "gracious", not small. I know my suburban friends think it's tiny. It's all a matter of perspective!

  • 14 years ago

    Thanks Jan, I missed that about the booze. Guess I'd share with my friends then instead keeping it all. But then I rarely drink now that I've grown up. No really BP meds keep me from the stuff, but I pretty much stopped once I became pregnant the first time. And not because I got pregnant because of the booze, but because of the baby.
    Okay, TMI here. I'm outahere.

  • 14 years ago

    My Chicago studio apartment (where I lived alone, 1992-93) and the first Boston-area apartment DH and I had after we were married (1995-97) were both in the area of 200sf. At the Chicago studio I was in culinary school so I HAD to be able to cook - a lot! - to test recipes for class, in the Boston apartment we were too broke to go out to eat ($10 takeout Chinese was a monthly treat; our grocery budget was a corset-tight $25/week) so we had to be able to cook there too, so cooking equipment took up a good deal of space that could have been used for other things. Had the Boston apartment been in a good neighborhood and had we not been squeezing every nickel till the buffalo farted we'd have stayed a lot longer, as we were quite happy. It gets my hackles up to hear a very small living space described as a "jail cell". You don't need a thousand square feet per person (and I know some of you have FAR more than that!) to be happy!

    The only mirrors in either apartment were in the bathrooms. I really dislike mirrors in living areas - I don't think they make a room look bigger at all, IMO, I think they make it look even more cluttered/cramped by reflecting all the stuff that's in the room. BTDT (two houses ago an entire wall of the tiny DR was mirrored in a IMO-futile attempt to make the room look larger and brighter), covered the mirrors.

    I'd much prefer to have a great deal of color and artwork (I was not allowed to paint either apartment but they were a riot of artwork), but they may just prefer minimalism.

    Oh, and there were cats (just one) in both apartments. Chicago was playing "hide-the-kitty" for a friend for weeks at a time, Boston was when we got Random to keep me company when DH was working double shifts.

  • 14 years ago

    Where is the litter box? They don't even own a trash can! I bet they use that flushable litter which might explain the drano.

  • 14 years ago

    I think the litter box is under the sink.

    Didn't they say they just bring trash right out to the shoot? Every floor in high rise NYC apartment buildings has one. It's probably a quicker walk to the shoot for them than the walk to the garage is for most suburban home dwellers!