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.     

how to create a home office in a small space

Ta-da!  The Holiday 2014 issue of New York Cottages and Gardens has arrived, which means Lisa Mende and I can finally share the Big Reveal of our Ronald McDonald House of Long Island project.

Lisa Mende Traci Zeller Ronald McDonald Home OfficeDuring times of personal crisis, it can feel as though time has stopped.  But somehow the world keeps turning … which means bills still arrive, phone calls need to be returned and appointments must be made.  As difficult as it is to deal with those things during a crisis, it’s even more difficult to manage when you don’t have a space in which to work.  To address that need, Lisa and I created a shared business office for families to use during their stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

RMHLI Business Office BeforeDo you remember where we started?  It was such a joy to turn this dingy, cramped space — not even 100 square feet — into a warm, cozy office for families to conduct personal business.

Cocoon by Kerry Steele“Cocoon,” the gorgeous original painting by Kerry Steele, served as the inspiration for our entire space.  Lisa and I hope that families staying at the Ronald McDonald House feel sheltered and “cocoooned” as they fight the illnesses that brought them to Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.  I pray that those families feel enveloped, supported and strengthened by the love of everyone who worked on, donated to, and cared for this amazing house.

RMHLI Office Interior Before 2Do you need a home office that nurtures your spirit?  This project shows that even the smallest space can be transformed into a beautiful and functional office!

Lisa Mende Traci Zeller Home Office ShelvingOver the next few days, I will share five key design techniques that Lisa and I employed to transform this “tiny hovel in the corner” (what I jokingly refer to as our specialty).  Please reference all prior conversations about the Traditional Home showhouse at Adamsleigh.

1.  Float the furniture

2.  Think UP … and modular

3.  Texture, texture and more texture

4.  To quote Mies van der Rohe, “God is in the details”

5.   Lighting is everything

Lisa and I are enormously grateful to everyone who donated, sponsored or otherwise contributed to the Ronald McDonald House project.  I will share more on the blog about these companies and extraordinary individuals, but for now, please join me in thanking Thibaut, Kravet, Stanton, Duralee, Kerry Steele, Hunter Douglas, Taylor Burke Home, Currey & Co., Bunny Williams Home, the adorne collection by Legrand and House of Laurence.

From the bottom of my heart, merci!

For more photos of the newly designed spaces at the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, be sure to pick up NYC+G or click through to the online gallery.  Interior design by Lisa Mende and Traci Zeller.  Photos by Marco Ricca Studio.  

traci zeller