Claire needs help

Posted on Wed, 24 Dec 2008 by KiM

Claire emailed us recently in the hopes we could help her out. Here’s what she had to say: “I’ve seen you lend a helping hand to several readers with designing dilemmas and I was hoping for a bit of help myself. I just signed the lease on a wonderful studio-type apartment near Dumbo in Brooklyn. Now I say “studio-type” because it feels more like 3 rooms connected to create a long living space and although I know it has loads of potential, I’m struggling with where to start! Should I paint the entire space one color? If I do different colors for each space will that be too much? What about a gradient going from ochre in the ‘bedroom’ to a paler yellow in the kitchen? I also have to reckon with my boyfriend’s tastes – not that they’re bad – but I have to make sure that it doesn’t seem to girly or to ‘me’. Do you have any pictures in your arsenal that could be inspiring for this project?” Below are a couple photos from Flickr she has of the apartment.

Why Claire, I think I may have found a few photos to inspire the design genius in you! Admittedly, it was a bit tough finding photos of rooms that are connected but have a little bit of a separation with walls. My gut is telling me that bright white all over and working some magic with art and furnishings would be an easy fix. I don’t think I would do different colours – the apartment isn’t very large and having each space a different colour would make it appear smaller. If you aren’t into white (or a light grey, my fav), I would select a colour (I’d keep it light) and then pick the 2 shades next to it on the paint chip – similar to what you are suggesting with the yellow to ochre. I think the subtle change in shade from room to room would have a really nice effect, and would keep the spaces flowing. I am including some photos of different colours in each space as well, in case you choose to ignore me (that’s been known to happen). And please folks, leave a comment if you have some thoughts on this. Help a girl in design distress.

William Meppem Inspace Locations
Aine Clune Harry Allen
Domino elledeco

Sam says:

The space being relatively small, I really would stick with just one light colour. The windows are relatively small, too, so keep in mind that you won’t be getting much natural light, so try to keep the space as uncluttered and open as possible in terms of colour and design. I really like Kim’s idea of simple white walls with lots of art and accessories to liven up the space.
I don’t have anything to say that Kim hasn’t already pointed out, really, so I’ll just say bonne chance and have fun!

These seem more like decoration issues than design issues to me.

Why not be a little more environmentally friendly and upgrade the lighting to something more energy efficient and functional. And buy some good dimmer switches. Lighting is a good investment and you can take it with you. The paint seems fine to me.

Jelena says:

I completely agree with Kim on using light colors and am 100% in favour of light gray for both rooms as I am sure this is something that the man in your life will agree with as well. Hints of colour would then come from your accessories. Try to pull those from the rug that you may already have, your favourite piece of art, you get the picture. I would also like to address the window covering. Install curtain rods with sheer panels reaching all the way to the floor to let the light in. In additions to the sheers and to address the privacy issue you can install some pull down blinds or cover window panes with a foil to create frosted glass effect. This type of foil can be purchased at Home Hardware stores and should be relatively inexpensive. Happy decorating!

stljoie says:

Decor aside, one of the nice things about spaces like this is being able to accommodate a lot of dining guests by connecting tables to the dining table and spreading into the living room.

Anonymous says:

Hello there,
I think you could go either with the single colour (love dove grey with white trim) or the gradations of one colour…either way, unify the spaces with cohesive trim and accents. Choose a colour and find a few accessories that “pop” for each room; maybe cushions on the sofa, a print on the curtain valances, the same colour in some bowls or utensils in the kitchen; it doesn’t matter what the colour or the accessory, but the repetition from room to room can be really effective. And your boyfriend can always bring home bouquets with your colour in it! Upgrading the lighting for both energy efficiency and style can add a real bonus as well. Have fun!

AMR says:

I live in an apartment (420 ft square…a long rectangle with the kitchen in the middle). I painted the entire space a colour that looks like what you have Claire – a very light cream – with the kitchen in white. In the main space I have a wall that’s *quite* loaded photos/prints (mostly black and white but some jewel-toned) and on the opposite wall large gold-framed mirrors that really make the space feel larger/add light. My floors are all hardwood and I don’t have any rugs because I am anti-vacuum cleaner. 🙂
I recommend: (ditto to comments above) light walls all the same colour + blinds close/the same as to wall colour) + good lighting + big mirrors (like a biggie above the fireplace).

Peggy says:

Wonderful dilemma, great space! Kim, you chose very interesting pictures. I love the idea of white, of course.

Claire, it’s so wonderful to start with such a fresh clean slate. I would suggest for now that you buy only a sofa. Something really comfy to plop on and watch TV and contemplate. Get it cheap, like at a vintage store (the vintage pieces are made better anyway). Let the place evolve slowly. Spend some time there, it will tell you what it wants. Buy only things you love. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, everyone does when they decorate. It may take some time to get a direction going.

I would love to hear more. What are your favorite colors? I hope to see pictures of your progress. Good luck, I’ll visit your flickr set.

Have fun decorating, you have a wonderful space and so many options!!! It’s now just a matter of what you like 🙂

Sparrow says:

I agree with Dave, invest in lighting fixtures that will make the space. you can always take them with you later.

Adriana says:

I just watched the movie “P.S. I love you” and remembered your flat. Check it out!

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