Before & After: Multi-Tasking Furniture and Layout Tweaks Transform a Kids’ Room

Before & After: Multi-Tasking Furniture and Layout Tweaks Transform a Kids’ Room

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Sometimes the best transformations are the subtle but high-impact ones. At least that’s the case with our kids’ room. When my wife, Sara, and I first moved into our current Brooklyn apartment, we weren’t pregnant with Royal, our son, yet. Our daughter Ihlen’s room was going to be “her” room, with the addition of a small desk for me to do my design work at while she was in school. Then Royal came along, and the room had to quickly transform into a bedroom for two. The focal point of the room was always Ihlen’s lofted bed so we kept that, put up Rebel Walls Jungle Land wallpaper to set off the space with a whimsical touch, and added in Royal’s crib and a nursery chair.

Things were working pretty well, then the pandemic hit, and now we have a toddler and a tween — and a new pandemic pup, Freyja — on our hands. With floor space getting tight, Royal nearing three and about to graduate to a bed, and the lofted bed not really being the best place for cuddling with a puppy, it was time to make some changes. Our goal was to flip the room fast to get it done right before Ihlen’s first week of third grade.

The biggest change we made was to the layout. Prior to the redo, the crib and loft bed were side-by-side on one of the long walls of the space, directly across from a little shared wardrobe area with a bar for hanging clothes and a low-slung set of drawers. Instead of putting both new beds on one wall, which you see often in shared rooms but would be tough to do in a space this narrow, we opted to split the room in two and give each kid a side.

I selected a twin-sized storage bed for my daughter, putting it on the shorter window wall of the room and orienting it more like a daybed so she could curl up with a book or her iPad there; I even swagged a pendant light in this spot for extra reading light after dark. This lower storage bed also provided separate toy storage underneath it and fairly easy access for Freyja to jump up and cuddle with her. 

For Royal, we selected the Oeuf Perch toddler bed, which was a perfect fit for the wall opposite Ihlen’s bed by the room’s door; we didn’t even have to move the guitar we had previously mounted on the wall in this spot! This way, both kids essentially have opposite sides, or ends, of the room as zones to themselves. We knew we wanted each kid to have their own little workspaces, too, so on the long wall where the crib and loft bed used to be, we placed two Blu Dot’s modular Hitch bookcase desks, which we divided with a bookcase from the same collection to add more storage for books, games, and knickknacks.

The full unit we built out basically spans the entire wall (save for where the ends of both kids’ beds are) but still has a pretty compact footprint, so now the room has much more open floor space than it did before for playing and hanging out. The last and final wall in the room has stayed pretty much the same; we removed the hanging bar and stacked more drawers onto the modular, low-slung unit that was always there to more efficiently work the vertical space for both kids’ clothing. We also added clear shelving above the drawers for even more spots to stash little odds and ends.

We’ve all been so happy with the transformation. The timing couldn’t have been more right for a fun and exciting redo to take us into fall and the new school year. It all started with looking at the room and really working its perimeter with space-saving furnishings that will grow up alongside our kids.

Gunnar Larson


Gunnar Larson is a interior designer based in Brooklyn where he enjoys fathering his two children, Ihlen (8) and Royal (2) with his wife, Sara.

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8 Dressers That Will Bring Style and Organization to Your Small Space

8 Dressers That Will Bring Style and Organization to Your Small Space

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If you’ve ever lived in a tiny apartment or home, you know how challenging it can be to find a sturdy, stylish dresser that’s suitable for limited floor space. Should you choose a long and narrow number or organize vertically with a taller piece? Even if you know which direction you’re learning, narrowing down exactly which dresser to buy can be difficult because, in case you missed it, there are so many to choose from. With that in mind and to help make the process a bit easier, we scoured the web for some of the most stylish dressers that won’t eat up a ton of space in your bedroom and elsewhere. Check them out, below.

This Headboard Hanging Hack Won’t Cost You A Thing

This Headboard Hanging Hack Won’t Cost You A Thing

Last year challenged Lanham. At a certain point during the pandemic, she felt alone and wasn’t sure what — or where — was next. “I wasn’t even sure if I was going to stay in New York,” she says. Luckily, a door opened for her, and when she got the opportunity to buy a Brooklyn apartment that needed a complete gut renovation, she jumped on it. “This is the smallest apartment I’ve had in New York, and everything has to have a purpose,” she says of her current space.

One of the things that caught my attention the most about her place is her vintage-look headboard, which is mounted unusually higher than what’s standard. This style of headboard is so grand and detailed, it’s almost regal, and for that reason, it shouldn’t be fully eclipsed by a bunch of pillows. By mounting the headboard just a few extra inches above her mattress, Lanham lets the fancy scroll design shine and gives her entire bed a little extra height so it can become a true focal point in the room. Now, the bed also appears to be level with the floor mirror, which also helps to balance out its proportion to the rest of the major furnishings in the room. Guessing from the photo, it’s safe to say this isn’t a king-sized bed, but it’s placed so deliberately in the room that it doesn’t even matter. She kept it simple with the bedding and let the headboard do the talking.

Mounting your headboard a few inches higher can create the illusion that your bed is bigger than it actually is; just make sure your bed and throw pillows cover up the gap that will exist between your bed and the bottom of the headboard. This hack takes up more visual space on a wall without having to mount or hang anything else. If the platform on your bed frame sits a little lower than you’d like, or you’re struggling with decorating the blank space above your bed, this little shift may be the no-cost solution to your biggest bedroom decorating problem.

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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If You’re Not Using This Type of Rug in Your Bedroom, You’re Missing Out

If You’re Not Using This Type of Rug in Your Bedroom, You’re Missing Out

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I’m always searching high and low for bedroom inspiration in particular, so when a decor expert has a tip or hot take on an interesting way to decorate a sleep space, I’m always down to listen. Case in point: Joanna Mahserdijan, an antique rug expert and founder of Upstate Rug Supply in Hudson, New York, recently said something that struck a chord with me. According to her, runner rugs work extremely well in bedrooms!

“A common theory has been that runners are for hallways, but they’re much more versatile,” says Mahserdijan. “People are using them in kitchens and foyers, but the length of a runner creates a creative opportunity to anchor them at the foot of a bed.” I’ve seen beds placed on rectangular rugs, either horizontally- or vertically-oriented. Some people choose to float a rug or faux sheepskin on one or both sides of the bed. A runner, though? I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of that — but when I thought about it, I realized that runners are a smart bedroom idea in terms of their cost, size, and decorating second-life potential (which I always try to keep in mind as I acquire pieces for my likely not forever home).

“It’s a budget option if you are not ready to invest in a room-size rug,” says Mahserdijan, who notes that smaller sizes are perfect for bedside applications while larger designs can make a statement near the end of the bed. “Runners will provide the texture, pattern, and a color palette to ground the room, and down the road, it’s a size that you can move around your house if you want to change things up.”

If you’re looking to go the antique route, you’re in luck. According to Mahserdijan, runners actually come in wider sizes than the two-foot-wide pieces you’re used to seeing. These slightly larger styles are perfect for bedrooms and often can be priced competitively, since market demand for said sizes isn’t super high (after all, most hallways are fairly narrow).

In terms of runner placement, Mahserdijan loves a one that’s four feet or wider anchoring the foot of a bed (similar to what you see in the image from Upstate Rugs just above), going just beyond the width of the bed frame where possible. “Alternatively, a couple of six to eight feet long runners look great along the bedside — do some pattern play with complimenting rugs,” she says. Runners are also a great solution for smaller or narrower bedrooms, where larger rugs can look a little too big.

No matter what kind of rug you choose for your bedroom, Mahserdijan suggests keeping these general rug buying tips in mind. First, if you like the look of distressed rugs — older pieces with natural patina that can be somewhat fragile — a bedroom might be the best place to try one out, since it tends to have lower foot traffic than other areas in the home. You should also pay attention to the height of the wool pile, which affects how cushy a rug feels underfoot. That’s nice in a space like a bedroom, where you’ll likely be barefoot more often than not. “You can find antique rugs with a thick, soft wool pile or almost paper-thin,” says Mahserdijan.

Ultimately, rug selection comes down to personal preference; thinner styles can be easier to vacuum, but they certainly aren’t as cozy as plusher designs. That said, if you ultimately choose something thinner, adding a rug pad will help beef it up a bit, and rug pads are important for preserving shape and helping to minimize shifting. So whether you go with a runner in your bedroom or not, remember to always add a rug pad!

Danielle Blundell

Home Editor

Danielle Blundell is AT’s Home Director and covers decorating and design. She loves homes, heels, the history of art, and hockey—but not necessarily always in that order.

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6 Space-Saving, Smart Ways to Style a Teeny-Tiny Bedroom

6 Space-Saving, Smart Ways to Style a Teeny-Tiny Bedroom

Living in an extra tiny bedroom and struggling with how to make your space shine when it fits little more than a mattress? Don’t worry; design pros are here to help. Below, a handful of designers have shared their tried-and-true advice for ways to maximize functionality and style in a teensy sleep space. Some of their tips may surprise you because it’s not always about going small in scale with your things.

First things first, eliminate excess, designer Deena Knight says. “Choose functional pieces with warmth and character,” she advises. “Don’t overcrowd the space by using extra large, bulky items but also don’t flood the space with lots of tiny items either.”

Scale is important, so try to make sure your pieces are sleek in terms of their footprint and that you use an economy of furnishings when it comes to the necessities: a bed, some kind of a nightstand, and a dresser. Before you can even think about storage solutions, Knight says you’ll want to eliminate anything that is cramping your style — literally! A small bedroom is not the place for extra seating, large free-standing shelving units, or even a desk, if you don’t have the space for it.

Try this window treatment trick

Take the opportunity to add some flair to your sleep space by choosing beautiful window treatments, then mount them “as high as possible, whether they’re drapes, a valance, or simply privacy shades,” designer Amy Youngblood urges. “This will give the illusion of height and a sense of space. “

Youngblood has successfully used this trick several times in smaller bedrooms with low ceilings, and it works like a charm. Don’t be afraid to add some length to your window treatments either. “Long custom curtains that skim the floor and frame the window can really lengthen a bedroom,” designer Allison Rowan notes. You can also wall mount other bedroom necessities too, from mirrors to coat racks and beyond.

Rowan suggests mounting sconces to the wall in lieu of setting bulky lamps atop a bedside table. In fact, this design move can eliminate the need for a bedside table entirely, therefore freeing up space for other furnishings.

Not 100 percent willing to eliminate nightstands for good? “A way to solve this issue is to attach wall shelves to the sides of the bed,” designer Stephanie Gamble says. “This allows you to have room for a glass of water, perhaps a place to keep a book, your phone, laptop, etc.” 

Get rid of your bulky bed and/or headboard

Don’t put four poster beds — or even headboards! — in the teeny-tiniest of bedrooms, if you can help it. “Skip the footboard as well,” designer Nicole Alexander of Siren Betty Design urges. “Headboards not only take up precious inches in a super small bedroom, but they can also take up a lot of visual real estate.”

If you think that your space will look too bland or boring sans a visible bed frame, you can still jazz up the wall space behind your bed. “If you don’t love a minimalist look, consider painting a bold colored accent wall behind your bed or hanging a fabulous piece of art above it,” Alexander adds. Larger pieces are fair game as well. “Don’t assume just because your room is small that your accessories need to be, too,” designer McCall Dulkys says. “Using an oversized rug or piece of art will actually make your room appear larger.” That said, if you simply can’t function without back support in bed, find a simple, streamlined upholstered headboard design or just pile on the pillows, which you can use for cushioning when you’re sitting up reading or otherwise.

Don’t skimp on rug size

It may seem like you should select a small rug for a small space, but Gamble offers a key tip for choosing a rug size for a little bedroom. “You want to make sure the rug isn’t too tiny,” she notes. “Use a rug that sits about six to eight inches from all the walls. This will help give the illusion that the space is bigger than it is.” A larger rug will also ensure that your feet are always cushioned and warm when you get out of bed in the morning.

Use every nook and cranny that’s out of sight

“Getting creative with storage by using baskets and bins to keep clutter down is essential,” designer Marie Cloud of Indigo Pruitt Design Studio says. “Also, look for unexpected storage opportunities like behind the door or under the bed.”

Off-season clothing, decorative accents, and even shoes can easily be organized on a door mounted rack or tucked into storage bins that slide under the bed easily. Just add a simple tailored bedskirt, and no one has to know your secret! The key is making sure things are out of plain view, so your small room maintains the appearance of being uncluttered.