Jul 20, 2011

Small space design - open plans are great!

With the advent of apartment living, builders chose to separate rooms. The resulting apartments had multiple small rooms and long narrow hallways connecting them. Today, with the need for more effective function and the desire for more space, open floor plans are desired. My clients in New York and Philadelphia love their neighborhoods but realized that their spaces were all too small.   How did we accomplish the remodel to get maximum living space and functional privacy?

1) Create private spaces first. Bathrooms and bedrooms need walls.  Whether they are solid, sliding closed as needed, or other partition walls, these spaces were first to be determined. Glass walls that can become obscure with the flip or a switch are a great way to accomplish privacy yet maintain an open feel.

2) Make things function in more than one way.  Creating walls with cabinet storage on one side and shelves on the other provides separation. Since they don't reach the ceiling they maintain the open feel of the space. Keeping surfaces clear and providing function below - roll out stools, cutting surfaces or other features - helps.  Dual duty structures include bench or ottoman seating that also provides storage and rotating partitions - as in the bedroom/living room wall that flips for using the television in either space. 

3) Raise things up. In high-ceiling apartments, elevating spaces defines them as separate functional areas. You can place furniture or carve out storage space under raised sleeping or office areas.

4) Lighten up.  Literally.  Carefully selected layered lighting along with mirrors, can completely change the apparent space. Be careful with what the mirror reflects!  Dress windows lightly but don't sacrifice privacy. Remove interior doors when possible to create a floor-through impression. Use glass inserts to brighten spaces if walls must remain.