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The Editor and the Space
Space-saving tricks help an editor's apartment feel less like a closet and more like a castle.
Sarah Humphreys, an editor, was seduced by this quaint one-bedroom apartment in New York City's West Village. There was a lot to be seduced by: An 1830s row house, a courtyard entrance, rosebushes climbing the walls, birds chirping, a fountain gurgling -- a hushed, idyllic oasis in the middle of the metropolis. When she moved in, however, she realized the apartment was cramped. Soon, a team of home editors came to her rescue working their magic on her itty-bitty abode.
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The Floor Plan
The total square footage of the apartment is 307 square feet. It's easy to see why Sarah was feeling the pinch. Luckily, the home editors came up with the following ideas to ease the squeeze.
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Problem: No Room for Furniture
The living room was filled with a mishmash of furniture, some too large-scale, making it feel cluttered and cramped. In addition, the walls were painted a bland butter color, which made the apartment dark, and therefore even more confining.
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The overstuffed furniture was swapped out for trim, tailored pieces, including a 69-inch-long sofa and a Danish-modern replica chair. With a small space, your primary furniture should not only be compact, but also sleek, without much embellishment, and, ideally, neutral-toned. To that end, the sofa is skirtless and lichen-colored, making it seem less imposing, and the chair is simply wicker and stainless steel.
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A Cooler Color
There was a reason Sarah felt as if the masking-tape-yellow walls were closing in on her: Warm colors make a room feel cozier (not what she needed). The living room was repainted with a cool-toned blue and instantly the walls began to recede.
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Problem: A Kiddie-Size Kitchen
The kitchen boasts only a mini-fridge and the oven barely fits a Cornish game hen. The cabinets fit only a few plates, leaving most of the pots, pans, and dishware in moving boxes and utensils stuffed into resealable bags since the kitchen was drawer-less. One last point: The kitchen was a real eyesore -- an affront to the living area.
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Recognizing that there was no way to improve the look of the actual kitchenette unit (short of tearing it out entirely), and to make the living area more serene, they installed a sheer linen curtain with hospital tracking to hide the kitchen when not in use.
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When You Do See It, It's Quite Beautiful
With a few basic steps, the outmoded cabinetry turned modern: The team first removed the doors, then they painted the frames white and the back of the cupboards the same blue as the walls. Removing the doors made the kitchen feel more open. Food is stored in the white canisters on the shelves and the large storage boxes above hold platters and holiday decorations.
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Problem: A Shortage of Surfaces
This console table sufficed as a place to rest a lamp and deposit bags (as the team did during their visit). But when it came to eating dinner or working, Sarah's only choices were her lap or the lowly coffee table. Another sticking point: Even if she were to find a surface to sit at, Sarah had no chairs to sit on.
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The Unbelievable Folding Table
Sarah shipped off the console clutter-catcher and replaced it with this drop-leaf design, adding a chair on either side. When both leaves are down, the table is less than a foot wide (with a large drawer running through the center).
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The Unbelievable Folding Table (Part 2)
With one leaf up, she has plenty of room to work. And with a 90-degree swivel, the table can seat six for dinner.
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The team installed floor-to-ceiling shelves on either side of the fireplace. The shelves' symmetry makes the apartment feel orderly. And their height makes it feel lofty. Although freestanding shelves may work for some, cut-to-fit, wall-mounted versions were essential here -- not only did they allow Sarah to use every inch of space, but also nothing prebuilt would sit flush (the floors are tilted and the walls are lumpy). Her utensils now live in egg-shaped vessels. And the white boxes hold votives, cookie sprinkles, etc.
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A Few Other Tricks
One ingenious tweak that made a huge difference? A mantel extension. A piece of wood was cut about 30 percent larger than the skinny mantel shelf, it was painted white, and screwed onto the top.
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A Few Other Tricks (Part 2)
Thanks to the sofa's spindly silhouette, there was room for an almost large coffee table. Two smaller tiered tables were pushed together to create another vast work surface.
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A new LCD TV allowed Sarah to replace the deep, low TV stand with a narrow bench. The TV itself is quite chic, but a quaint cozy (how-to below) added a little color to the room.
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Problem: Bomb-Shelter Bedroom
This 9-by-7-foot chamber receives no light, and the Silly Putty-colored walls didn't do anything to remedy this. The bed was crammed in the corner, college-dorm-style, because the room had to accommodate two dressers, and even then bins of shoes and sweaters were stacked everywhere.
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Finding the Center
Although there were just 13 inches left on either side of the bed, the home editors centered it against the back wall. Then they added a headboard -- really just fabric hung from a wooden dowel. There was no room for a headboard with any depth, so this serves as a stand-in. They used the same fabric here that they did for the sofa pillows, so the apartment felt unified. The law of symmetry prevailed again, this time in the form of bedside tables.
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Now all that was left was the off-season stuff, jewelry, and lots of shoes. Sweaters were placed under the bed in a 27-by-63-inch drawer that can be rolled out for easy access.
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Hidden Storage (Part 2)
Simple shoulder hooks were screwed into the inside of the closet to hold necklaces. The shoes are stored in two sturdy wooden organizers.