Are there any general rules for interior decorating, with emphasis on making the best use of space?
March 16, 2007 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Are there any general rules for interior decorating, with emphasis on making the best use of space?

I recently moved into a studio apartment. Although it's pretty large previous apartment, somehow I feel that I'm not making the best use of my space. The two issues are having the right pieces of furniture, and placing the furniture in the best spots.

The basic shape of the apartment is a big square, plus a walk-in closet and small bathroom (with no storage).

1. I have a long couch along one wall. I can't figure out where else it could possibly go.
2. My bed is along a second wall
3. The third wall is all windows so I have my desk against that
4. The fourth wall is broken up with a closet door and tv. hookup.

Because of the way I have things organized I only have one section of wall, next to my couch, for a tall bookshelf. The couch, bed and windows take up the majority of wall space that I'd otherwise like to use for a second bookshelf and a dresser (which I currently do not have).

I'm looking either for specific tips, general rules for the best placement of furniture, or resources for helping one figure out how to best configure a space., as this is not my forte.
posted by mintchip to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: What I meant to say is that this apartment is pretty large, as well as larger than my previous apartment.
posted by mintchip at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2007

Apartment Therapy is a blog -- with branches in different cities -- about apartment decorating. The link goes to their "smallest coolest apartment" contest. but the link at the top of the page will take you to the blog proper. Search around there, they've got huge archives and tons of interesting ideas. Lots of pictures, too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:37 PM on March 16, 2007

Could you put some kind of partition in the middle of the room (a folding screen, a bank of large plants, a room divider, a large curtain hanging from the ceiling...) to create a wall to put either the sofa or the bed (or both) against? It would create tons more wall space for bookshelves and dressers and the like. You could put the bookshelves against it, or even make the bookshelves themselves the wall/partition, if they're tall enough. Here's a very quick and dirty doodle of what I mean, although of course there are a million different ways you could arrange what you have. The TV thing could be an entertainment thing or an armoire or whatever. You didn't mention a kitchen though, so I didn't know how to factor that in.
posted by iconomy at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2007

Design Rules was a series run by BBC America about five years ago. It was a brilliant introduction to design theory...
posted by jefficator at 8:56 PM on March 16, 2007

Don't be scared to bring furniture out from the wall, especially that couch. We have a big main room, and we divide it up into two with the couch (facing a wall we project our tv on to, with it's back to the kitchen and our officey space). We have two very different big rugs in the square areas that creates. Don't feel like you need to keep a central open area - if you don't use the space, there's no point to it.

Don't put too much stuff up on the walls or around the room for a while, drag the big pieces around when you get new ideas and see what works.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:58 PM on March 16, 2007

Speaking as an interior decorating idiot, I've found Use What You Have Decorating helpful.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:01 PM on March 16, 2007

As for room dividers, also remember you can divide the room all kinds of ways, not just parallel to the walls but diagonally too or even with curved (an arc of narrow bookshelves or plants). Ikea's Expedit shelves are one common way of doing this that won't break the bank, and you'll find long, curved shelves too (usually for much more $$ than Expedit). A room divider that comes up from the floor (rather than anything falling from the ceiling) is more likely to keep a big room feeling spacious.
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:44 PM on March 16, 2007

The best way I've found is to make a scale model of everything with graph paper and move stuff around. This means you can find out if things will fit a certain way without shifting everything, especially if you are as bad at estimating dimensions as I am. Note that this will only give you an idea of whether stuff will fit, and allow you to try different things. Until you actually move the furniture, it is hard to tell whether it will actually work.

As others have mentioned, putting furniture in the middle of the room can help create two rooms out of one.
posted by kjs4 at 9:59 PM on March 16, 2007

Here's another idea for dividers at Ikea Hacker. Good blog well worth browsing for ideas.
posted by lucien at 3:53 AM on March 17, 2007

Try moving the couch out from the wall to create room for a tall bookcase. Even if you move it out just enough so that you have to access the bookcase contents by hanging off the back of the couch, you'll still greatly increase your storage space, and with not too much sacrifice of space.

You could also rotate your desk 90 degrees so that instead of facing out the window (which it sounds like you've done), it comes out from the window. Sure, you have to turn to look out it, but you'll gain more wall space, and that's where shelves or a dresser could go.

Also, think vertically. Maybe instead of a chest-high dresser with all drawers, get a full-size armoire that has drawers at the bottom and doors at the top that open to reveal shelves where you can keep folded clothing.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 9:34 AM on March 17, 2007

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