Thursday, July 17, 2008

Small Room Design

For the most part, this blog has been about gardening. Inspiration from gardens formal and informal, small and large can be pulled from past posts. It wasn't my intention to blog only about gardening. However, at the time the blog started my mind was fully occupied with thought of gardens, the Garden Walk, and future plantings.

Some time before the Garden Walk became a reality, I volunteered to decorate a bedroom for a friend of Scott's that is moving to WNY from Miami, Florida. Being a transplant myself, I know that coming into a home with at least one well decorated room, can act as a sort of respite. Her home is an old one, like most in the city, built in 1905. The bedroom I'm decorating is very small, only about 13x13 square. There is one window, and a door to the balcony which is nailed shut due to an unstable roof/terrace.

The bones of the room are great, and I'll post pictures of the room soon. Crown molding with a picture clip lip, 8 inch baseboards, hardwood floors, and antique lighting are great starting points for me. The problem is knowing which direction to take with her style, (which I know very little of) and what the room is actually calling for.

The house is a clipped gambrel, like mine, with a craftsman interior. Roughly 7000 square feet on 3 levels, it's 7 bedrooms are rather small. The house needs a lot of work, and the transition from Miami to New York will be one that I expect to be tough for her. So, in my small way, I thought this would be a help. Unfortunately, I've needed help myself in getting inspired.

So, like gardening, I turned to photos for inspiration and happened upon some designer tips on small room design. I got great inspiration and tips from the idea's below, accompanied by RMS rooms that I think exemplify the idea of the designers:


"Instead of painting walls bright white to make the space feel larger, take the counter intuitive approach — go deep, dark, and mysterious. A teal blue silk wall covering or an entire wall of leather floor tiles gives you a striking look without taking up any floor space." —FRANK ROOP, BOSTON, MA
Here nyclq painted their small-ish master bedroom with a dark paint color, Ralph Lauren's Urban Loft Collection: UL06 MERCER. A nod to the designers point of making the the walls deep, dark, and textural rather than bright white.
"Take the focus off the architecture and beam it on an astonishing object — it can be anything from a specimen plant to a Da Vinci cartoon to a nude portrait." —THOMAS JAYNE, NEW YORK, NY


I chose this guest room from chgosouthpaw on RMS to prove that having an astonishing object, like the painting above the bed, can keep the eye drawn to a particular piece and away from the fact that the room is actually quite small.


"Gather a fabulous, motley collection of mirrors — antique, new, vintage, French, Italian. Starting with one large mirror in the center, arrange a grouping on one wall. It's the one instance where more is more." —STEPHEN SHUBEL, SAN FRANCISCO, CA


I love eileenjay's shabby chic in puerto rico post, even though I'm not typically a fan of the shabby chic style. Although this is not a bedroom, it does prove the point of designer Stephen Shubel, about the dramatic effect of a collection of mirrors.

"Do the whole room in the same fabric, and I do mean everything — walls, curtains, upholstery, even the lampshades and picture frames, whether it's a leopard print or a toile. One wild print all over the place enlarges a small space, makes it feel cohesive, and adds a big wow factor." —AMANDA NISBET, NEW YORK, NY


I think wrapping walls in matching fabric to the bedding can be a bit much, but decorator101 from RMS has exemplified the idea of designer Amanda Nisbet, in that her curtains, bedding, wall decor (plates) are all of the toile pattern.

"Accentuate the intimacy. If it were a tiny entryway, I'd use patterned wallpaper and a hanging fixture with a subtle, diffuse light source. I'd add a frame less mirror flanked by reflective sconces, both hung a little on the low side, and then I'd make a composition of small-scale paintings and pictures, placing them unpredictably and irregularly to engage more playfully with scale." —SARA BENGUR, NEW YORK, NY


I chose this bedroom of blgeee, to demonstrate the idea of intimacy in a bedroom. B's bedroom isn't one I would classify as being "small" but she's thought of several things that make the room inviting, cozy, and intimate - all of which can be recreated in a smaller space. For instance, the staging of wine glasses at the end of the bed, the throw blanket, the layering of the pillows, and the whimsical lamps. Also note the designers flanking art with sconces hung a little on the low side, then take a look at B's painting above the headboard. Tres chic!

"Go ahead, use a massive four-poster bed in a tiny bedroom. As long as there's room for an end table, it actually makes the room look bigger." —MARSHALL WATSON, NEW YORK


Another fantastic room from one of my RMS favorites, chgosouthpaw. This room is long and narrow, but the designer didn't let that stop him/her from putting this gorgeous bed in the room. It's all about placement, and scale.

"Saturate the space in one medium or dark color, such as moss, warm dark gray, or chocolate brown. Use it on every door, every ceiling, the trim, the window frames and the door frames, as if you're dipping the whole room in a bucket of paint. It takes away all the boundaries and you're left with the infinity of the universe. It's like Houdini came in and decorated." —BARRY DIXON, WARRENTON, VA


Sushi uploaded this guest room to RMS, unofficially calling it the "war" room. She has several family treasures from the Civil War, and World Wars in this room that is painted a warm tone. This small room certainly does feel (from photos) like a boundary free space.

"Stay with a monochromatic palette of very light-colored wall, floors, and window treatments. The paint color should be an atmospheric neutral such as Farrow & Ball's Shaded White. You could do sisal or sea grass matting or a rug in a similar tone as the walls." —SHARONE EINHORN + HONEY WOLTERS, RUBY BEETS, SAG HARBOR, NY
Anyone who has been on RMS, has certainly crossed paths with one of the many top rated HPJ185 spaces. All of her/his spaces have this monochromatic palette to them, and it works well in the spaces he/she has created.

"Do something over-scale and daring. In a small powder room, I used a large-scale David Hicks wallpaper with Chinese urns all over it. Paradoxically, it helped the room feel bigger. But it can't be a small, busy pattern. It has to be an open, graphic pattern that breathes, with space between the repeats." —KIM ALEXANDRIUK, SANTA MONICA, CA
I chose this space from nikkicrumpet on RMS. I think that this headboard, and it's large scale and bright red pattern is a daring, unexpected idea that has paid off.

"One of my favorite small rooms was a dining room at L'Hotel in Paris. You went down a stone spiral stair into this tiny arched vaulted room with one wonderful large table and big plushy chairs. It taught me two things: You can have more fun in a small dining room than a large one, and you can put big pieces in small rooms — just not many of them." —JOHN OETGEN, ATLANTA, GA


I think that David3-5 from RMS has really shown us that it's true what designer, John Oetgen says about having big pieces in small rooms. This bed is a large statement piece, but note that David has calmed down the size of the other pieces in the room.
Each of these fine inspiration rooms have played a part in the idea of how I will decorate the small bedroom for our Miami friend. Stay tuned for before and after pictures of that bedroom on a budget!

By the way, are you looking for the perfect home accessory for your small room?
Click on the photo to be taken to some of the most beautiful glass art ever made!