Designing a small, dual-purpose room

January 02, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I'm thinking about using a spare room as an additional storage space for clothes as well as a place for accommodating the occasional overnight guest. The available room isn't very big, however -- only 10 feet wide and 12 feet deep. Do you have some suggestions?

A: I think this photograph of a small bedroom in a London townhouse almost says it all. The photo is taken from "Classic English Interiors," a book written by Lady Henrietta Spencer Churchill and recently published by Rizzoli.

This, by the way, is an immensely practical volume as well as a stylish coffee-table book. It's filled with beautiful illustrations of both contemporary and traditional English interiors, and it will almost certainly inspire readers to adapt some of these designs to their own living spaces and lifestyles.

The solution presented in this photo might be applicable to your situation. Assuming that the entrance to your spare room is on a wall opposite a window, you could construct an L-shaped built-in that will meet all your needs. As is the case in the photo, this unit can include a closet for extra clothes as well as a platform bed and a bookcase.

The dimensions, however, have got to be adequate for each of those purposes. A 33-inch-wide bunk-type bed or a standard 39-inch-wide mattress will accommodate most single sleepers. But I would make sure that the mattress is at least 80 inches long in order to ensure comfort. You don't want your guest's feet to be hanging off the bed.

In this model, the closet wall is 24 inches deep, the standard depth for hanging space, and it intersects the bed platform at a 90-degree angle. If you lay down these dimensions, there should still be enough room for additional details of both the functional and aesthetic variety. A bookcase, for instance, will easily fit into your spare room, just as it did here.

All the walls and millwork in this setting have been painted off-white, with the exception of the alcove-like area where the bed is situated. The eye is inexorably drawn to that end of the room by the use of a decorative striped fabric on the wall, curtains, bolster and mattress cover. Such a treatment adds interest and depth to this small space by establishing a single focal point.

While other options may occur to you, this one strikes me as perhaps the best approach in the circumstances you describe. Some construction work is required, but this is still a comparatively simple and compact way of meeting two sets of needs in one small space.

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