how to arrange furniture in a small space

Space planning is always the #1 challenge in a teeny-tiny room like the one Lisa Mende and I tackled in the Ronald McDonald House!

Kravet Paris DeskOur very first selection was Kravet Furniture’s Paris Desk in Dark Bronze lacquer.  The Paris Desk is beautiful from all angles … which meant Lisa and I could now float the furniture.

RMHLI Office Interior BeforeIn the “Before” photos, you can see that both the bulky desk and the filing cabinet were jammed against opposite walls.   By floating the desk in the center of the room, everything felt much airier — like there was now room to breathe (Tip #1)!

Ballard Designs Parsons Chair with CastersFloating the furniture won’t always be the answer to space planning in every small room.  If this were a sitting room, for example, we probably would have taken advantage of every corner to create additional seating.  In this small office, however, we only needed primary seating for one person — and we didn’t want that person to feel wedged into place.  The slipcovered Parsons Chair with Casters by Ballard Designs makes it easy to maneuver around the desk.  Plus, the armless style (Tip #2) is less imposing in the room.

Steves & Sons Primed White Interior Door SlabFloating the desk also meant that a person sitting at the desk is able to face the office door (Tip #3).  It’s awfully disconcerting to be “snuck up upon” … which is exactly what could happen if the desk faced the wall.  Lisa and I replaced the existing solid door with a glass door, which made the room feel much more open.  From a functional perspective, it also gives a parent the ability to maintain privacy and watch their children at play in the seating area across the hallway.

OKL Kate Brass Ottoman Hair on Hide Turquoise Nailhead Taylor Burke HomeAnd if an additional person needs to pull up a seat?  Two gorgeous Kate Brass Ottomans from Taylor Burke Home are easily accessible … yet tuck neatly under the desk or modular shelving unit when not in use (Tip #4).  Talk about a whole lot of style in a small package!

Lisa Mende Traci Zeller Home Office ShelvingLast but not least, Lisa and I installed a modular shelving system from The Container Store.  Our horizontal space was — quite obviously — very limited … so that meant we needed to think UP (Tip #4)!  Even without particularly high ceilings, you’d be amazed how much shelving you can install and storage you can create.  Because there’s little need for permanent storage in this space, Lisa and I chose to use three shelves.

elfaBoardOfficeB_xIf you look closely, you’ll notice that the bottom shelf is deeper than the top two shelves.  That way, it could accommodate the printer and also be used as an extra desktop in the future.  Or maybe one of the kids wants to color while Mom or Dad works!  The utility board keeps office supplies close at hand without taking up valuable countertop space (Tip #5).

How is your home office arranged?

Product photos via Kravet, Ballard Designs, Home Depot, One Kings Lane, and The Container Store.  Lisa and I are incredibly grateful for generous donations by Kravet, Ballard Designs and Taylor Burke Home.     

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is leather the most “family-friendly” upholstery choice?

Schillig Leather ChoicesIf I’ve heard “I have kids so I’m just going with leather” once, I’ve heard it a hundred times.  Well, in this day and age of performance fabrics, I don’t think leather should be the automatic answer.  But let’s settle this question once and for all.  Is leather a family-friendly fabric choice?  Let’s put that another way.  If you have messy kids (or … ahem … a husband), is a leather sofa your best choice for upholstery?

Schillig Leather CloseupFor the answer, I went straight to the experts at W. Schillig.  W. Schillig is based in Ebersdorf, Upper Franconia, Germany and — with nearly seventy years of experience — has become one of Europe’s leading international upholstery manufacturers.  Lucky for me, W. Schillig serves North America from its High Point offices, so I was able to talk to the Head Honcho, David Stewart.  Aaaand that may not be David’s official title, but it will do for now, don’t you think?  W. Schillig selects only the highest quality raw materials for its home furnishings and the company is particularly known for its incredible leathers.

So what makes the difference between good quality leather and bad quality leather?  And why does that matter to your kids?  W. Schillig uses only the top grain cow hide leather, chosen from the top 4% of all hides.  The result is a luxurious and long-lasting seating surface.  Lesser quality leather from other manufacturers will often be described as “split leather” or “bi-cast.”  Run, run, I say!  Run for the hills!  Ok, well, maybe you don’t have to run … but just know that you’ll be getting a product that lacks comfort and durability.  That cheap leather sofa you buy now won’t seem quite as fab when it looks terrible in a few short months!

Hermes Birkin CloseupThere’s only one “name brand” in leather, and that name is Elmo.  To put that into context for my fellow fashion lovers, Hermès uses Elmo “Grand” leather.  Mmmmm, pass the Birkin!  And — wouldn’t you know it — W. Schillig uses Elmo leather as well.  Elmo leather is sourced from Scandinavian cows (cold weather = heartier cows) and aniline-dyed, which means it doesn’t really scratch.  Unless you are talking about cats with claws and then that’s a different ballgame, sister.

Schillig Leather Closeup 2W. Schillig uses three types of Elmo leather — “Grand,” “Baltique” and “Soft.”  Elmo “Grand” and Elmo “Baltique” both have an open surface that allows the leather to breathe and be temperature-neutral.  Thinking about how leather gets sticky in warm weather?  You’ve probably got yourself some bi-cast, baby.  Ok, maybe not, but that sounded funny in my head.  The open surface of “Grand” and “Baltique” leather also means that it absorbs liquids quickly and easily, which can alter the appearance of the leather if it’s not treated right away.  Yes, soiling can be removed with immediate attention … but that is definitely something to be aware of.

If you were an unlucky sort who witnessed Twin B’s projectile reflux for a Full Year, I can promise you wouldn’t think of “Grand” and “Baltique” as overly kid-friendly choices.  Amazing leathers, absolutely.  But save “Grand” and “Baltique” for the adults-only spaces!

Schillig Elmo Soft Leather Schillig Elmo Soft Leather 2Elmo “Soft” leather, on the other hand, is given a light coat of pigment — meaning lots of colors — and features a smooth, natural grain.  What does that mean to you?  Elmo “Soft” is very family-friendly and even suitable for many commercial applications.  Soiling can be easily removed from Elmo “Soft” leather, and with routine maintenance, “Soft” will maintain its beauty for years to come.  Hallelujah!

Schillig ChairW. Schillig also has four other leather types that are particularly well-suited to families.  “Anilux,” “Patina,” “Pebble,” “Classic” and “Strong” are all made from South American hides and are considered easy care.

Schillig Sofia Motion FurnitureOh, and their Sofia motion furniture?  It’s a man cave and/or media room dream come true.  Choose from two different cushion sizes and about a gazillion ways to configure the seating.  You can even float the furniture because it is powered by rechargeable battery packs.  With German engineering — and parts supplied by a manufacturer for major medical equipment — it’s motion furniture that will stand the test of time.  If I paired this with a high-def television set, I may never see my husband again.

I suppose that’s an entirely different definition of family-friendly, huh?!

Product photos courtesy of W. Schillig.  Informal snaps by moi.  Hermes Birkin photo via Purse BlogThank you to High Point Market for pairing me with four companies, including W. Schillig, as a sponsored blogger.

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traci zeller