Dine with a view

Those of you who took a child to Disney Land in its heyday and went on the Small World ride will remember that cloying annoying song that you could not get out of your head for days. That melody kept popping into my mind as I recently readied a 500 square foot living space for rental.

Wee space

The challenge in furnishing small spaces is creating a feeling of openness and yet providing areas where daily living activities can be performed easily and with comfort. No small order in 500 square feet. In most spaces this tiny, the common solution to the sleeping/living area dilemma is a daybed or a fold out sofa. The daybed solution requires a made bed with tons of pillows to support the back in order to sit during the day. The height of most daybeds are not conducive to comfortable sitting; the feet tend to dangle, not touching the floor. Fold out sofas have come a long way in recent years with inflatable mattresses — a vast improvement on the sofa beds of old. But removing the sofa cushions and placing sleeping pillows on the bed each night is still a bit of an ordeal. Reversing the process in the morning just makes you want to stay in bed to avoid your chambermaid tasks.

Disappearing act

Sometimes old solutions are the best solutions. We installed a Murphy bed in a sleek frosted glass fronted cabinet with huge sliding doors that conceal the bed by day. This frees up the limited floor space for a real sofa, end tables that have large drawers which double as bureaus, a coffee table, a dining table and chairs, and a Hans Olsen “fried egg” chair which looks like a piece of sculpture. All of the furniture you can see under; this expands the space visually, making it feel larger. The Murphy bed is counter weighted so that it comes down with a light pull. The other half of the cabinet is an ample closet with bars for hanging items and built in shelves and pull out drawers for clothes storage.

With large living spaces, furniture selection can be fluid as there are many choices as to placement of the pieces. If a piece does not work in one room, moving it to another is always an option. In a one room small space, each piece must be chosen to fit in its designated space and perform with aplomb. Form and function at its best. One painting graces this room and a modicum of “dust catchers” sit on surfaces. A music system, flat TV, and speakers all hang on a wall, freeing up floor space. The project’s end result is, although the space is compact, it has the comfort and feel of a much larger one.

Kitchen a la Jetsons

There were several “tricks” we used to accomplish this feeling. When sitting in the living room and looking into the kitchen, no appliances or sinks piled with dirty dished are visible. In the kitchen, most of the storage is below the counter with upper cabinet frosted glass garage door cabinets to house the dishes and glasses. The cabinets are lit from within and throw a soft glow of light through the frosted glass fronts. They seemingly float on the wall. All of the lower cabinets are on slender stainless steel legs and are lit from below, giving an airy open feeling to the room.

If the small world theme song would stop internally rewinding ad nauseam, we could appreciate our efforts.

A bit of extra space