Always start a design project by sketching a floor plan, designer Kenneth Brown advises. "Walls are the only boundary -- what lies between is a blank canvas," he says. "It can also give you a fresh perspective of the room. You'll be amazed at the potential you see from this bird's-eye view."
A little pattern and color can go a long way in tiny rooms. That's why Brown balanced the vibrant wallpaper panels with serene wall paint. "I wanted a color that would allow the patterned wallpaper to pop, but also could stand alone if the panels ever came down," he says. Having said that, the hanging wallpaper panels are Brown's favorite element; they add style with no commitment.
Slipping a slim glass-top console behind the sofa creates a small home office area. The glass top stays airy and it reveals the latticework top. The desk doubles as a snack station for entertaining.
Shallow wall shelves not only serve as a photo gallery, they're also spots to drop keys and sunglasses inside the door. Plus, they visually extend the walls.
One thing apartments often have going for them is open wall space. Here, Brown reworked a pair of the owner's existing bookshelves into an attractive storage wall, covering them with the same curtains as on the windows, and layering on wire sunbursts as art. "We then placed a floor-length mirror between the shelves to give the illusion that the room expands past these covered shelves," he says. By hanging window curtains and bookcase curtains on the ceiling, the room looks taller.
A small side chair along a sliver of wall provides lounging space without taking up depth. Repeat a design element or color throughout a room (and into adjacent rooms) to visually connect the furnishings. However, in a space this small, beware of pattern frenzy. Opt for small splashes of pattern, on accent pillows or a small chair, for instance. The largest pieces of furniture in this room -- the sofa and chair -- were chosen for their classic lines and solid, neutral hues that give your eyes good places to take a rest.
No room for furniture? Windows long and in the way of wall art? Go low with scootable ottomans that seat and store. When shopping for accessories, "Consider playing up texture. By varying textures in a space, the eye is stimulated, but not overly so," says Brown.
"We selected a bar cabinet that also holds the TV," Brown says. "This creates an entertainment zone that is great when watching football with the fellas. Simply open the bar, grab a drink, kick back, and watch the game."
Continued on page 3: Tips for Renters