Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Small Space Living Tips from Nate

Who better to feature in my first post on living well in a small space than the oh so cute Nate Berkus. The latest issue of Glamour gives an overview of Nate's transformation of his little sister Marni's tiny one-room apartment in New York. Notice Marni is perched on Nate's very own HSN love seat, here in grey (they call it pewter) velvet. Also note the back of the bookshelves are painted a gorgeous blue. Love the magenta and orange pillows.

Next is Marni's living room that has a great mix of neutral core pieces spiced up with bright accessories.  Nate comments that regardless of "whether you're living in a dorm room or your first apartment, resist that transient feeling.  Save up for the one or two pieces that you will still love in 10 years."  That might be a stretch for a college kid (certainly would have been for me in those days), but I absolutely agree that you should treat your first apartment as a home.  I saved up and invested in good quality pieces back then that I still have today.  Another thing I love about this room is that the core uphostered pieces are all in neutral colors that allow you to completely alter the feel of the room through changing accessories.  Also, with the exception of that flat screen TV, pretty much all of the accessories in this room can be replicated on the cheap.  That table by the window that looks like a branch with glass perched on top might be a challenge, but I'll bet if you have a handy hubby, BF or relative they could figure out how to it.

This is all stuff you could score at Pier 1, TJ Maxx, Marshall's or World Market.  Also, if you ever want some great coffee table books to dress up your tables, don't forget Half Price Books.  They have a great selection and are so cheap.

Marni's bedroom area is directly across from living room.  Nate used the sofa to divide her living and sleeping areas, commenting that he chose the sofa because screens are "so old-school." Notice the same soft neutrals used in her upholstered pieces in the living room are used in her bedding. 

The shot above also gives a better look at the branch table.  Hmmm...it's tough to duplicate, but I just know some clever DIYer out there can do it.  Make sure you send me pictures if you do and I'll feature your work.

Accessories, like the silver lamp and small box, gilded mirror and sequin trim on the pillows, are used to add sparkle for a touch of glam. 

This is her work area where Nate customized a corkboard by using a roll of cork and moldings from Home Depot.  You can actually buy one just like this if you troll the aisles of TJ Maxx and Marshalls long enough.  I found a huge one with a much prettier frame at my local TJ Maxx & More for $50 (no, they are not paying me for advertising their stores - I'm just a frugal junkie and they have the best cheap stuff).  This is a super tight work space so you would have to be uber organized (or maybe she shoves everything into that ratan basket under her desk?).

Remember that blue in the back of her bookcase?  Here it is again in an inexpensive painted chest.  A cheap and easy project to duplicate.


Lastly, in her closet Nate used magazine files to organize her clutches and Huggable Hangers from HSN (yep, he is getting paid by them) to increase storage space. "Let me tell you, Marni's closet did not start out looking like this," says Berkus.  "We started piles: 'keep,' ' charity' and 'resale.'"

I remember visiting a girlfriend living in Conneticut a few years ago when we stayed at her friends apartment in the city while she was away on an extended trip.  That apartment really made a huge impression on me, not because of the decor (which wasn't particularly memorable), but because of the amazingly efficient use of space.  The living room and dining room were one long space, there was a tiny galley kitchen, a tiny bathroom and a very small bedroom.  In the bedroom, there was just a queen sized bed pressed against the wall, no night stands, a bureau in the closet and a large rolling rack for her hanging clothes.  Her clothes were kept to a three color palette and were spaced neatly apart.  I asked my friend if that was her whole wardrobe and she replied, "her summer wardrobe."  Of course, she was on an extended trip, so I'm sure a lot of her wardrobe went with her, but apparently she stored the out of season clothes at her dry cleaners.  I've always been aware most dry cleaners offer this service, but with my worst case scenario mind, I always feared the place would burn down, go out of business or they would give my wardrobe to someone else.  Anyway, that tiny New York apartment gave me a whole new perspective of my small house.  I suddenly appreciated the need to edit your stuff to fit your space as opposed to allowing your stuff to outgrow the space and force you into bigger (more expensive) diggs.  I still have to work on maintaining the balance, but I get better at it every day.