For a Happy Bedtime Story, Think Cool, Dark and Quiet Q: I am a terrible sleeper, three, sometimes four hours a night. I checked about sleep apnea — negative — but the doctors suggest one problem might be my bedroom, that I should look into things like the mattress and pillows. Exactly what …Read more. Doing It With Mirrors Q: We built our new home to take advantage of the great water views ... except in the kitchen where we — duh — designed things so that when the cook (that's usually me) is working at the main counter, her back is turned to the scenery. …Read more. When to Float the Furniture Q: I can't figure how to arrange the furniture in our living room. One wall is all glass, leading out to the deck. I can't put anything against the glass — I don't want to be out on the deck looking at the back of the sofa, do I? A: Your best …Read more. Ruling Out Rules in Decorating Q: We have a lot of space in our new loft. A lot! What are the rules about arranging furniture? And what about colors? Everything we have is slick, modern, beige-ish (and boring). A: Much as I hate to break it to you, there are no rules about …Read more.more articles
Big Plans for Tiny Rooms
Q: What to do with a really small room? I mean teeny-tiny, maybe just wide enough to wedge in a double bed. We need a guest room, but would any guest feel welcome in such a stingy little bedroom?
A: If not, you should make better friends. As long as they can stretch out well enough to sleep in a space that's warm and welcoming, what more does any guest really need?
Here's an inspiring case in point: Dena Fishbein, top-shelf designer and author of "The Painted House, "and her husband Dan Fishbein used to handle their thriving design business via computers installed in this sliver of a room.
Then they both got laptops, Deana writes, leaving the space underemployed. They decided to turn it into a guest room, even if there was just a quarter-inch to spare when they moved the bed in.
However, no one loses sleep over the tight fit thanks to Dena's famously freehanded approach to mixing exuberant colors and patterns. The high canopy matches the pillows, which match the bed skirt, which is echoed in the throw and stenciled decorations that pack such an enormous punch of personality into the Lilliputian room.
Also, please note: guests' basic comfort needs are provided for. There are light-controlling curtains at the windows, a handy table at bedside and an efficient reading lamp, all de rigueur in any guest room, however large or small.
This is creative re-purposing at its best. As Dena believes, "Part of what gives a house its vitality is its evolution. If your home grows and changes with you, if it reflects both where you are and where you've been, it will better suit where you're going."
Q: We're building "the house of our dreams" in the mountains.
A: You said, "of our dreams." Obviously, that includes your husband's, too.
By the way, landlocked outdoor showers are not as farfetched as they may seem. James Beard, the pioneering American foodie of the mid-20th century, installed an outdoor shower at his Greenwich Village townhouse. The shower was open to all the back gardens in the West 12th Street neighborhood — never mind that Beard was also known for his corpulence, an obvious occupational hazard.
The world's foodies, now converging on the Beard house for remarkable meals at the James Beard Foundation (www.jamesbeard.org), still giggle as they step past his shower en route to the dining table
Then there's the enviable outdoor shower installed by an ingenuous neighbor of my friend whose family farm lies in mountainous Virginia. High up on the top level of their handsome custom-built house, Henry's al fresco shower certainly boasts a better view than Beard's: the vista down the misty mountain valley is truly breathtaking.
There is one hazard, Henry admits: showering guests who accidentally drop the soap.
Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.Creators.com.
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