From the mouths of designers

We hit up some local pros for tips on how to best deal with small spaces. Read on for furniture suggestions and ideas as well as mistakes to avoid.

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1. Dana Nicholson, owner, Dana Nicholson Studio Inc.

On…


Audiovisual entertainment systems
An iPod, with a simple docking station, works. Not only is its small size conducive to the New York cubbyhole, but it looks sexy, and there's an ever-growing range of dinky little ad-ons to choose from.

Beds
Hafele, a German manufacturer, produces the Rolls-Royce of concealed bed mechanisms; the finished product is not dissimilar from a Murphy bed but light-years away in terms of sophistication. Complete this with a Charles Beckley mattress, which is thin, dense (horse and hog hair), upholstered and heavy. If you are maneuvering your bed daily, you are in for quite a workout.

Sofas
Borge Mogensen, a great Dane of design, has always been a good source of slender sofa inspiration. John Saladino is another designer who places importance on scale, making sofas with depths as minimal as 24.5 inches.

Bookshelves
Asymmetric bookshelves are functional and self-contained; the variation in shelf dimensions means you can store books alongside pieces of art or entertainment systems, at will.

Tables
In small spaces you will want to float furniture in the room. Rounded edges are not only safer but require less clearance space.

Space-saving tips/mistakes we make


• Don't fixate on making the fireplace the centerpiece of the room; this creates dead space all around it. Ridding yourself of this notion will automatically open space for other things.

Dana Nicholson Studio is at 515 Broadway between Broome and Spring Sts, (212) 941-6834.

2. Carl D'Aquino, partner, D'Aquino Monaco Inc.

On…


Audiovisual entertainment systems
The iPod is a popular choice; not only is it a mobile and sexy piece of kit, its monolithic memory means that you are now able to rid yourself of archaic CD collections and declutter your apartments in the process.

Beds
In small spaces furniture should be multifunctional; for example Indonesian daybeds. If you don't like the idea of sleep/sofa designs, then choose a full-size mattress over a queen—a few inches can make a big difference—and put beds in alcoves wherever possible. Think Japanese proportions; keep mattresses thin and low, maintaining lines comparable with that of the sofa—this opens up the room. By choosing a bedspread that complements the sofa upholstery, you make it part of a room and create secondary seating options.

Sofas
A single person might be happy to throw a sheet over a chaise lounge ergo it doubles up as a sleep/sofa.

Bookshelves
Use the height in your apartment; remember that bookshelves can run from floor to ceiling.Horizontal bookshelves are an alternative way to save space. Design Within Reach has a variety to choose from.

Tables
If you have a desk, you don't need a separate dining-room table. Wherever possible, don't duplicate furniture.

Space-saving tips/mistakes we make


• Never choose oversize pieces. Scale is one of the most important factors in interior design.
• Before moving furniture in, play around with space; mock up your room with floor tape.
• Use defunct nooks and crannies—putting up a rail and a curtain creates an additional closet
• Triple-hang your closets, three rails instead of just one.
• Above all, edit your clothing regularly. Closet space is an issue for everybody,

D'Aquino Monaco, Inc., is at 214 W 29th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, Suite 1202, (212)929-9787.

3. Nick Olsen, interior designer, Miles Redd LLC

On…


Audiovisual entertainment systems
Jumbo wall-mounted flat screens should be avoided. A freestanding 6" x 15" easily picked up at BestBuy is far better, proportionately.

Beds
Sadly, there is no mystery with a small apartment; yet an element of trickery can be introduced by picking a bed with a high headboard. Pull the bed out and use the headboard as a divider within the room and make it feature by hanging pictures from it. As an absolute last resort, you could always loft your bed to create space for a desk beneath it.

Sofas
Sectional sofas are not necessarily small, but the interchangeable fragments are versatile and can be moved around to fit the contours of your apartment. Chaises and love seats double up on the seating, or fold out into beds; some come complete with bolsters, saving even more space on pillow storage. CB2, West Elm and Brocade Home have great ranges on all of the above.

Tables
Tables with drop leaves provide extra utility surfaces when needed. Folding or stack-away chairs are another way to save space—a plethora are on display at the many restaurant-supply stores on the Bowery (between Houston and Delancey). Ikea or, if you have a bit more cash to play with, the Conran Shop has some fabulous examples too.

Space-saving tips/mistakes we make


• Paint: One brightly painted wall will do nothing for your small apartment. Instead paint all of your walls one color and extend this to the ceiling and the floor. Getting rid of the lines creates a seamless and crisp look giving the illusion of space; eyes will be drawn to the furniture or the art on the walls. • Lighting: Unscrew the 100-watt bulbs; opt for subtle tones. Pink works well in a petite pad.• Kitchenettes: Eliminate the Formica! Make the kitchenette blend into the room by covering the surfaces with contact paper, wallpaper or a coat of paint. Even electrical tape can jazz up the drab. Change the doors if you must—considering their size, a trip to the Home Depot need not be expensive.

Miles Redd's studio is at 77 Bleecker St at Broadway, Suite 77, (212)674-0902.

4. Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, designer, Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz LLC

On…


Audiovisual entertainment systems
I more than agree with the iPod for everything, and that's it. And what about a small flat-screen TV on the nightstand?

Beds
I love beds everywhere, including the living room. Why can't you sleep in the bathroom? Anywhere that you can lay flat you should be able to sleep. Mattresses than can be reversed and used hard or soft, depending on the mood are ideal in small spaces.

Sofas
Select sofas with thin arms in order to maximize the seating area. Comfortable, slightly hard-seat sofas can easily become a dining bench with a 25-inch-high table. By combining your living and dining functions, you save a lot of space.

Dressers/closets Make sure that you retire unused clothing and accessories. The best way to save space is not to clutter it to begin with. If you have to, high shelves (above your head) are perfect to display that cookie jar collection that you love so much.

Classic mistakes clients make Pay attention to scale. Everything in the room should "feel" free to move. A tall dark armoire in a small room will feel oppressive. But if the armoire if the same color of the wall, it will blend better and not call so much attention. Visual clutter is the most common mistake.

Space-saving tips/mistakes we make


• Never buy a piece of furniture with only one purpose in mind. A dining chair should also serve as a living-room chair; therefore, why make all the chairs the same? Make the host and hostess chairs your special chairs.• Why not have a coffee table that can easily be moved to the dining table and used as a bench? With the simple addition of a thin cushion you will make a hard surface into your all evening dining chair.• Also, use the color of the floor on at least one wall, if not two. This will create the illusion that you have more floor area.• When using rugs, large circular shapes visually enlarge the space.

Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz's studio is at 75 Spring St at Crosby St, 6th Floor, (212) 343-9709.

5. Russell Piccione, principal, Russell Piccione

On…


Audiovisual entertainment systems
Why spend money on good equipment to disguise it? Far too much time, space and effort is spent camouflaging equipment—buy something that's good quality and aesthetically pleasing and be proud to display it.

Beds
People tend to sacrifice their beds. Go bold and extravagant. Don't underscale your bed. A gutsy bed can create a room within a room.

Sofas
A common mistake is to move a large suburban-scale sofa into small spaces where two comfortable chairs might be a more intelligent choice. Failing that, the recamier or the one-armed daybed (from the first quarter of the 14th century) are practical substitutes—B&B Italia and George Smith both have a fine collections.

Dressers/closets
Utilize your pieces in ways for which they were not designed. Avoid sets; mix and match. Think tall and not wide; linen presses were used as closets in the 18th century when it was fashionable to fold rather than hang clothes. File boxes are another alternative—a great place to pick these up is the monthly house sales at Christie's Auction House.

Mirrors
Don’t underestimate the power of mirrors; they quite literally double the space. Mirrors facing mirror unnerve some people, but if they are perfectly aligned, they can create a room that goes on forever. Mirrored ceilings actually lift the lid of your apartment. I would be hesitant in fixing mirror ceilings in the bedroom (for obvious reasons) and living room, since it's more important here to have a sense of repose. They are best used in dining rooms, cool bathrooms and hallways. Mirrored or polished-steel floors are fantastic for creating the illusion of space and are certainly making a comeback.

Color
Another misconception is that intense colors draws the room in; they don’t. Bold colors can actually push walls out, and color on the ceiling can raise the plane. It varies from apartment to apartment, however.

Space-saving tips/mistakes we make


• The biggest mistake is getting thing all out of proportion. There is a difference between overscale (good) and bulky (bad).

Russell Piccione can be reached at 131 E 71st St between Lexington and Park Aves, (212)288-3033.

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