Q: A spare upstairs room in my house has always been treated as a sort of catchall space, even though it's supposed to serve as a guest room. What prevents it from being more inviting are the sloping walls formed by the inverted V roof line. How can I make better use of its awkward, triangular shape, and can you suggest a cheap and cheerful treatment for the windows?
A: "Cheap and cheerful" is a catchy-sounding combination that we all seem to favor, especially in a little-used room. But I think the word "cheap" conveys the wrong impression, so let's instead consider a cheerful and inexpensive solution to your problem.
Here's another designer's approach to a space much like the one you describe. The room shown in the photo was done up by Stanley Hura,a New York designer, who reasons: "Awkward spaces can become beautiful with some imagination and ready-made products." More simply, Mr. Hura suggests, "Add a shelf."
That's just what he did in this instance. By installing a shelf topped with cut glass, he turned a difficult corner into a functional dressing table. The same easy addition could also have served as a telephone table or even a small writing desk. To make a cramped area usable, it isn't necessary to have a great deal of height as long as the depth and width can accommodate the required accessories.
In this particular instance, the space below the shelf was dressed with a shirred fabric skirt in order to add a decorative note and to help pull the room together. The skirt was cut from a ready-made curtain that matches ready-made balloon shades from the Raintree Designs collectionfor Cameo Interiors.
The small windows were covered with shutters, painted the same color as the walls, as a means of ensuring privacy and of controlling the daylight entering the room.
A patterned bed-skirt and pillow shams will also make a small space seem less stark. For a bedspread, a simple blanket in a suitable color may be all that's really required. Remember -- bright, vividly patterned bedcovers can easily overwhelm a room that isn't especially spacious.
I realize that you have to deal with more than one such corner. If a dressing table strikes you as the right answer for one of the nooks, another could be fitted with shelves in the form of a bookcase. With those quick and easy constructions, the room will no longer be treated as a mini-warehouse but will instead become a pleasing expression of your hospitality.