Organization is key to all-in-one room


January 03, 1993|By Rose Bennett Gilbert | Rose Bennett Gilbert,Copley News Service

Q: As a graduation present, my mother is letting me redo the attic into a studio apartment to use while I teach for a couple of years. Because I've been living on my own, I'd like this to look like my "own space."

I want to know how to go about organizing an all-in-one room so I can have guests. Also, what do I do about the ceilings? Right now, they're painted dark because nobody had been living up there.

A: Since seeing is believing just how much livability you can pack gracefully into a small space, study the photograph we show here. It's of a room that functions more broadly than its floor space would predict, thanks to skillful planning by New York designer T. Keller Donovan.

He has organized the room around a sofa (it could be a sleeper in your case). Putting the sofa in a window niche not only saves space, but also makes it the focal center of action, framed for extra impact by the tie-backs on the window behind it.

More professional pointers you can crib from Mr. Donovan's skillful design solution:

Armless "slipper" chairs, as they're called, are much less bulky than regular club chairs but just as comfortable.

Small tables offer maximum comfort and convenience in minimum space.

Ditto for the swing-arm lamps mounted on the wall to free up table space.

A strong angular thrust, achieved by the black-and-white faux zebra rug, serves to push the walls apart and add energy to the room.

About that dark ceiling: As you can see, the designer has chosen to go against conventional wisdom that all walls, including the ceiling, should be light-colored when space is at a premium.

By painting it dark, he paints it "out," visually speaking, because his room is narrow and tall. If your ceiling is on the low side, however, I'd opt for something light.

Q: I have a funny little bathroom with a footed tub against the wall. My husband says I can keep the tub only if I can figure out some way to add a shower (he refuses a bath!). But I don't know how without losing the effect of this old-fashioned tub. What should I do?

A: You'll need a ring shower rod that surrounds the tub on all sides (unless there's a tile wall you didn't mention). Two shower curtains, a liner and a decorative exterior cur

tain, should be both practical and attractive. The liner (or liners since you may need at least two to wrap the entire tub) will go inside (obviously), but the top curtain can go all the way to the floor.

It will be particularly attractive if you mount the circular shower rod close to the ceiling so the fabric can swoop down dramatically.

Q: I'm thinking about hiring a professional interior designer to do our new house when it's built, at least the downstairs. I'm afraid to even mention this to my husband, however, since I've never used a designer (and don't know anyone else to ask).

Isn't there an organization that represents designers?

A: Indeed, there are several, the largest of which is the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), which has 49 chapters.

The ASID is making an effort to encourage homeowners like you to use the services of a design pro, and has published a small brochure that will help you answer some of your questions. Call them in Washington, at (202) 546-3480 (or fax your request for information at [202] 546-3240).

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

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