10 of the smallest rooms we've ever seen
Lathe walls enclose the sleeping area in a 400-square-foot Brooklyn apartment. "Inside, it's hung with white curtains," Lyndsay Caleo of The Brooklyn Home Company says. "It's incredibly cozy, like you're in a nest, a cocoon, but it's still light and airy." The Brimnes bed from Ikea has drawers underneath, for more storage. "We decided to define a sleeping area, because we felt people needed a private space," says design partner Fitzhugh Karol.
Walk-in closet–size kitchen
In designer Stephanie Stokes's 48-square-foot kitchen in New York City, everything is efficient and has its own place. "To fit everything in, I had to shave every element of the design," she says. "My marble countertops are only three-quarters of an inch thick, rather than the usual inch and a quarter, and that gave me half an inch more room to use above or below. There are knife slots built into the counter. I even used the spaces between the studs in the walls. I found two inches above the stove hood and used it for storage." The mirrored backsplash, electric cooktop that doubles as countertop, and simple cabinetry give the illusion of grandeur in the tiny space.
The bunk room in a 1,650-square-foot Marin County, California house, designed by Erin Martin and owner Kim Dempster, feels like a ship's cabin and is lined with six bunks, four on one side and two on the other. The small space becomes useful when having guests over. "If we have another family visiting, either all the kids go down and the parents go up, or the whole family sleeps in the bunk room," Dempster says. "Kids just love that room, and they'll hang out down there when it's not bedtime."
The children's library doubles as a guest room for sleepovers in a Houston, Texas, house. "The children's reading room is a niche carved out of a hallway," designer Ann Wolf says. "It's a private, magical little space at the heart of the house, where you imagination can run wild." Shelves are designed to display book covers. Curtains are Pierre Frey's Alpage.
Invention and salvage are style trademarks for Zach Motl, a window designer at Ralph Lauren's Madison Avenue store. His small space motto? "It's about making one room feel like five," he says. "It's about how you arrange the furniture, and how the pieces play off one another." The daybed in his 425-square foot-Brooklyn studio is an assemblage of two Ikea Malm twin beds – he used the headboard and rails of one bed, substituting the floorboard with the headboard of the second bed. A street-find library table sawed in half yielded the slim console.
"The single bathroom is hilarious: It's so tiny, there's only the little sink and a shower," designer Krista Ewart says of the space in a 1,200-square-foot beach house on Balboa Island, California. Hinson's Fireworks wallpaper by Albert Hadley highlights a mirror Ewart designed as a simplified version of the living-room mantel mirror. Light fixture from Old School Lighting. Pottery Barn towels.
In designer Stephen Shubel's 1,450-square-foot California cottage, every inch of space is used. In a guest room, the bed fits into the alcove. "It's supposed to look like a berth on a boat," he says. "Most people say the whole house feels like you're aboard a beautiful old wooden boat." Mann-O-Print curtains frame the room's shipshape berth with built-in drawers. The Louis XVI portrait is a photocopy paper assemblage by Woody Biggs.
A penthouse studio
A high ceiling and wall of windows gives design consultant Ellen O'Neill's 450-square-foot studio in New York City a light, airy feel. The one-room apartment is in a 1920s landmark building by architect Emery Roth. "I have pieces that multiask: the daybed serves as both seating and a bed, my antique farm table as a desk and a dining table," she says.
Designer Nick Olsen broke all the rules when he decorated a 295-square-foot Brooklyn apartment with bold colors and patterns. "Forget the rules. People think that if they paint the walls a color it will feel too cramped," he says. "And that every piece of furniture has to be pint-size." In the bedroom area, he added a soft touch to the metal Heimdal bed from Ikea by slipcovering a length of foam in Schumacher's Hong Kong for a headboard. Duvet cover and pillow shams by Schweitzer Linen. Because of their large scale, Mercury glass lamps from Circa Lighting make an impact. They're set on vintage end tables – originally brown, Olsen repainted them a bright Chinese red, "because every room needs a touch of red."
Living room turned dining room
To open up floor space in the living room of his 390-square-foot New York City apartment, designer David Kaihoi built a corner banquette, with hidden storage beneath the seats. "Everything has to have more than one purpose," he says. The space can transform into a dining area – the velvet-covered banquette also serves as plush seating for the dining table, draped in purple burlap from Elegant Fabrics. Walls are Purple Haze by Benjamin Moore.