3 Alternatives to the Traditional Home Office Desk

Not every telecommuter is lucky enough to have a spare room where they can easily fit an executive-sized home office desk. While we may all dream of having that much space to spread out and work, the truth is most of us are limited on floor space. So what’s a telecommuter to do? You can’t very well work from the kitchen table! However, Just because you can’t fit a boardroom in your home office that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great, albeit sometimes nontraditional, home office desk.

Secretary Desks
One of the best things to do when you work from home is create a distinct separation between your work and personal space. It’s all together too easy to let work intrude on your personal life (or vice versa) when you don’t have a physical office to shut the door on at the end of the day. So instead of shutting the office door why not close up your desk itself! A secretary desk is great for telecommuters that need to fit their home office desk in their living room or bedroom. The drop leaf desk means you can lock your work mess up at the end of the night and keep it from taking over your home space.

Computer Carts
Instead of a full computer desk that crowds your limited home office space, why not opt for a smaller (yet more agile and portable) computer cart? This simple home office desk alternative often comes on casters, so you can easily maneuver it around your home as needed. Bring it out at the beginning of the work day and set up you mobile home office in front of the windows or even on the patio if the weather is nice enough (and you have enough extension cords). At the end the day you can slide it back into the corner or tuck it inside an extra closet.

Freestanding desks.
Take advantage of long (albeit narrow) spaces in your home or apartment and create a free standing desk that screws right into your walls. A long and decently wide shelf can easily serve as a home office desk. If you need more storage space than build up with hutches or a few extra freestanding shelves. You can also get a few filing cabinets and tuck them under your freestanding desk so they don’t take up any limited floor space.

For telecommuters that spend 8+ hours a day at their home office desk, it’s important you have enough space to do your work yet still fit into the physical floor space you have to work with. Sometimes traditional home office desks aren’t the best solution. All it takes is a little creativity (and a measuring tape!) to come up with the perfect home office desk setup.

4 Ideas for Better Small Bedroom Storage

Our bedrooms, no matter how small, should be comfortable and cozy. Unfortunately, sometimes comfortable and cozy can mean we need a lot of stuff! Many apartment dwellers fins themselves dealing with a lot of stuff, but not nearly enough space to store it all. There is no need to banish your extra quilts and favorite chatskis to the back of your closet or bury them in basement storage. Nor do you need to be tripping over boxes and bags scattered over the floor. Instead, here are 4 ideas of better small bedroom storage:

1. Under-the-bed storage containers.
As long as your bed is off the floor, chances are you’ll be able to find a storage bin short enough to fit underneath it. Even basic metals frames give you a few extra inches of storage space to work with. Or, you could always invest in a storage bed, which has the under-the-bed storage features (both drawers and doors) built right in! Storage beds are a great option for small bedrooms if you’re extra short on floor space, as they can double for dressers.

2. Ditch the bedside table for bookcase headboards.
Instead of a bedside table, or two if you need a “his and hers,” add a bookcase headboard. You can opt for one or several shelves, depending on your storage needs.  If you didn’t mind losing a few of the bottom shelves, you could even turn actual bookcases into the headboard for extra height (great if you have tall ceilings!) and small bedroom storage space.

closet_single__68017.1392759543.864.8503. Take advantage of existing closet space.
Before investing in a large dresser or armoire that is going to eat up your limited floor space, make sure you are using your closet (should you be lucky enough to have one) to its full advantage. Can you add a second bar to get two levels of hanging space? Can you fit a small dresser inside of the closet so it doesn’t take up floor space? Any chance you could add a shelf or two for shoe boxes and off season clothes? Sometimes the best small bedroom storage solutions are already in place, they just need to be tweaked a little!

If you don’t have a closet, consider getting a free standing closet system, which gives you both drawers and hanging space. It will take up some floor space, but you can always start with the most basic system and add new compartments when you upgrade to a bigger bedroom!

4. Store it higher.
Free hanging shelves and wall units are a great small bedroom storage solution, especially if you have a lot of height to work with. Imagine building one giant shelf that went all the way around your bedroom! You could invest in a few fun colored or patterned storage bins and turn your small bedroom storage into décor! Free standing shelves and wall units can help get everything off your floor, but, as opposed to storing it in the attic or basement, keep it easily accessible.

4 Tips for Furnishing a Small Living Room

Having a small living room is a fact of life for many apartment dwellers. And while it may not matter when you’re the only one home, for people that like to entertain (or are starting a family) a small living room can be incredibly frustrating! How do you fit enough seating in your small living room without making it feel cramped and crowded? Where are you supposed to store all your stuff if you don’t have the space? If you are trying to furnish a small living room, here are four tips to ensure you are maximizing what little space you have to work with:

ottoman__78536.1446043952.864.8501. Ottomans are good choices for seating and storage.
An ottoman that doubles as a coffee table helps you maximize your small living room’s floor space without having to sacrifice storage. Some ottoman sets even break apart so you can have a small coffee table and extra seating at the same time and are perfect for entertaining in a small living room. Ottomans are also a great place to store extra pillows or blankets, which is especially useful if your living room sofa also happens to be a pull out bed!

2. Glass coffee tables can create the illusion of more space.
Since glass coffee tables are see through your small living room isn’t being cut in half by a dark and bulky coffee table. Although they are more fragile than solid wood coffee tables (something to consider if you have young children or pets), glass coffee tables essentially “disappear” in your living room, creating the illusion of more space.

3. Armless sofas give you extra seating to work with.
If you like to entertain, armless sofas can give you a little extra seating space to accommodate all your guests. While you may not be able fit the five piece sectional sofa in your small living room, you might be able to fit one more person on an armless sofa since you get a few extra inches of space on either end. If you go for two small armless sofas they can be rearranged into one big sofa as needed.

4. Wall mounted storage units don’t take up floor space.
Wall mounted storage racks and shelves are a great way to free up floor space without sacrificing storage capacity in your small living room. Storage racks and shelves are a great place to puts DVDs and video games, fun décor items, books or other household knickknacks. You could even create a wall mounted desk solution with a hutch if you need to make room for a home office in your small living room. If you have a really oddly shaped room, or “leftover space,” consider having a custom built wall unit installed! It’ll optimize every inch of space.

The most important thing to remember when furnishing a small living room is to take a lot of measurements! How much space do you really have to work with? A few inches one way or the other can make a big difference. Don’t forget to account for windows, doors, radiators and other things that might impact how you furnish and organize your small living room.

Why Buy Unfinished Wood Furniture?

Just to clarify, buying unfinished wood furniture doesn’t mean you’re going to have to turn a tree into a chair. Unfinished wood furniture is still a complete piece; it just hasn’t had its final finish and sealer applied. Sometimes called “bare wood furniture,” unfinished wood furniture is great for DIY homeowners and apartment dwellers that want to make their new furniture uniquely theirs. It’s also a great solution to matching new furniture with old to create a consistent look in a room.

Here are 3 reasons to consider buying unfinished wood furniture:

You can create your own stain.
If you walk into a home improvement store like Lowe’s or Home Depot there are probably dozens (if not hundreds) of furniture stains for you to choose from for your unfinished furniture. You can pull any one of these off the shelf for a great look, or you can get creative and create your own stain color by mixing a few options together. It’s easy to mix compatible wood stains or dyes to create the totally new shade you want, or simply reduce the darkness of a shade by mixing in a little more solvent. There is no limit to what stains you can create!

Making your own stain is a great to integrate a new piece of furniture in with older pieces and match your existing décor without going over budget.

You could even go really wild and use fun paint colors to create a totally different vibe for your unfinished furniture. Why not have bright green bed frames or a red bookcase to show off your personality? You can also add stenciled designs if you’re feeling extra creative!

It’s usually less expensive than finished furniture.
Because the furniture manufacturer isn’t finishing the furniture themselves, a piece of unfinished furniture is almost always less expensive than its finished counterpart. Since wood stains aren’t that expensive, buying unfinished furniture could make a big difference for your wallet in the end. Keep in mind that the drop in cost doesn’t mean the unfinished furniture is of a lesser quality than the finished pieces for sale. You’re still getting the same great quality, just at a lower price because of the DIY factor.

Furniture manufacturers can’t hide the faults in unfinished wood furniture.
With unfinished furniture, what you see is what you get. There is no way a furniture manufacturer could hide any defects in the wood with paints or stains if they didn’t use them! This also means that furniture manufacturers can’t get away with using inferior wood and masking it under heavy layers of finish and paint. Unfinished furniture will show you exactly where there are (if any) knots, discolorations or other defects that some finished furniture won’t show until its starts to wear.

But what’s the greatest thing about buying unfinished furniture? When friends and family compliment it you get to say “I did it myself!”

Building a Great Kid’s Bedroom

For many children, their bedroom is much more than a place to sleep. A kid’s bedroom is their indoor playground, their library, their toy store and much more all rolled into one. Most parents design a newborn’s nursery to look and feel the way they want, but as children grow up they can start to have their own specific ideas of what constitutes a great bedroom design. Whether your cowboy or princess wants zebra stripped blankets or dinosaur wallpaper, there are a few kid’s bedroom essentials that you can’t miss.

Toy chests
You can never really have enough storage in a child’s room. All those toys and books need to go somewhere at the end of the day! Storage chests or benches are a great place to store extra stuffed animals, board games, crafts supplies and more. Since storage benches and toy chests sit on the floor, it’s easier for your child to help clean up since they don’t have to reach a tall shelf to put their things away.

Trundle beds
Trundle beds are great in kid’s bedrooms for a couple of reasons. First, trundle beds are perfect for sleepovers with friends and family. Some trundle bed designs even come with a few extra drawers, giving your kid’s room even more storage space. Trundle beds also make great day beds, so if you don’t have a lot of space to work with it can function as double duty furniture.

Bookcases
Of course bookcases are the perfect place to store all of your child’s favorite books, but they can also be used to display school projects, birthday cards, family photos and other fun knickknacks. Shorter bookcases keep everything at child eye level, while taller bookcases are a good way to keep some items out of reach if needed.

Table and chair set
A table and chair set is a great way to keep crafts projects and coloring books off the kitchen table. A table and chair set, built specifically for a kid’s bedroom, is the perfect place for kids to draw and color, do homework, play board games, have a tea party and much more. You can opt for plastic or real wood sets and even get the table and chairs in fun kid-approved colors or designs.

Keep in mind that your child’s tastes may change overnight. Today they love astronauts and insist on space wallpaper; tomorrow they want to sleep in a racecar. But if you choose kids’ bedroom furniture that works with any design choice your child may happen upon, there is nothing that a fresh coat of paint and a few new posters can’t do!

First Time Furniture Buyers Shopping Tips

Buying new furniture can be both a fun and exhausting experience. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options a new furniture buyer has, not just in terms of how customized the shopping experience can be but also the amount of furniture stores that potentially exist in your area. If you are a first time furniture buyer, here are a few tips to help you navigate the world of furniture shopping!

1. Build a budget (and assume you’re low!)
Most first time furniture buyers are always surprised at how much a brand-new bed or couch will cost. Even at the “cheap” furniture stores many new furniture buyers will suffer from a bit of sticker shock. When you’re beginning your shopping adventure, it’s important to figure out your budget. Maybe you can’t afford to buy a full bedroom set this month, so you spread the purchases out over the next three months and build your new bedroom over time. It’ll be a lot less painful on your wallet!

2. Decide what you need versus what you want.
Buying furniture for the first time can be a lot of fun. It’s the opportunity to express yourself as an individual and figure out a design style that is uniquely you. However, it’s very easy to get carried away and make grandiose plans for hutches, benches, ottomans, room dividers, entertainment centers and more—but what do you really need? This will often tie back into your budget. You NEED a bed, you may WANT a bar for the living room—which one are you willing to pay for?

3. Research local furniture manufacturers.
productscoastercolordaybeds_-_coaster_300398-b0__80794.1464100865.864.850When looking around for local furniture manufacturers, it’s important to make sure you work with a reputable seller. Here are a few things you want to ask before you pull out your wallet for a new furniture purchase:

    • Do they offer warranties? Lifetime or limited?
    • Do they offer home delivery? At what cost?
    • Any furniture sales or deals going on?

4. Factor in your lifestyle.
If you plan on moving to a new apartment in the next few months ask yourself, do I want to assemble all this furniture only to disassemble it in 3 months? Are you planning on having kids anytime soon? Do you have pets? Is your significant other moving in? All of these lifestyle factors and more should influence what kind of furniture you’re looking to buy. Furniture is an investment, and you want to make sure you are going to get your monies worth for a long time to come.

5. See it in person.
There is a big difference between looking at a picture online versus seeing it in person. Is that chair the same shade of green in the light of day as it is in a staged photo? How comfortable is that new bed or couch? How tall is the coffee table? While there is nothing wrong with shopping online (it’s fast and convenient) if you have the option to see your new furniture in person before you purchase it it’s definitely worth a quick trip to the store.

Save Money and Space with Double Duty Furniture

For furniture shoppers that are tight on budget and floor space, double duty furniture is the perfect solution. These multi-purpose pieces of furniture mean you don’t have to sacrifice on storage space or function, and you aren’t trying to cram more furniture into a room than can comfortably fit. Double duty furniture also gives you twice the furniture for your money, which is great for furniture buyers looking to furnish their first apartment (meaning they need everything!) but don’t want to break the bank.

Here are three pieces of furniture that are more than they seem!

Beds and Dressers
For small apartment dwellers (or anyone with a bedroom that is short on floor space) a storage bed is both a great bed AND full dresser! Some storage bed designs have 8 different drawers (4 drawers at the foot of the bed, 2 drawers and one cabinet door on either side of the base) so you have plenty of storage space. If you don’t need the full 8 drawers you can always opt for a 4 drawer or 2 drawer storage bed design. The 2 drawer storage bed is great for beds that are going to be flush against a wall as both of the drawers are on one side so you have easy access to all your clothes.

Headboards and Bookcases
IMG_2357_001__24257.1359487741.864.850Bookcase headboards are perfect for storing books, clocks and radios, your phone or whatever else you like. While they aren’t as large as a regular bookcase (usually you only get one or two shelves) bookcase headboards are a great way to get little things off the floor or your bedside table.

Benches and Storage
Benches are really a universal seating option. They can be simple and plain, perfect for entryways or mudrooms, or they can be sleek and sophisticated for even the most modern of living room designs. But what makes double duty benches even more useful is they are also a well concealed storage option! Storage benches and ottomans in living rooms are the perfect place to store extra blankets and pillows; in kids’ rooms they make great toy storage options and are a great place to store things like sports equipment, umbrellas and so forth. Storage benches can be even used as a coffee table or a filing cabinet if need be.

Furnishing a room with the necessary pieces can be costly. By going with double duty furniture, you can drastically reduce your furniture costs without sacrificing storage space or function!

Rearranging Your Living Room Furniture Requires a Plan

One of the most common mistakes furniture shoppers make is they don’t measure their space before buying new living room furniture. There is nothing worse than coming home with your brand new sofa or coffee table or entertainment center and realizing that it’s not going to fit in your living room. It’s even worse for us New York apartment dwellers when we realize we can’t even get our new furniture up the stairs to our 3rd floor apartment! That’s why, before you start rearranging your living room furniture (or shopping for new pieces) you have to plan and map out the space you have to work with.

Mapping out your living room isn’t nearly as hard as you might think it is. All you need is a regular old piece of paper and a tape measure! Measure each of your walls and scale them down to fit on your piece of paper. Make sure you keep the scale the same throughout your sketching, so make it something you can easily convert and remember productscoastercolorellery_181734809_505771_b1__95456.1452545236.864.850(like one foot of living room equals one inch of paper). Once you have your room sketched out (don’t forget to include doors and windows), measure your existing pieces of living room furniture and make small paper cutouts from a separate sheet of paper. You can use these paper cutouts to rearrange your living room without having to do any actual heavy lifting. That way you’ll be 100% sure everything will fit before you start rearranging furniture. You might also want to mark where things like radiators, electrical outlets or cable hookups are since those influence how much flexibility you have with your living room design.

If you are looking to buy new living room furniture, be sure to bring your living room map with you to the store! If you know where you want a new piece to fit all you have to do is check the measurements of the display models and you can be sure it won’t be too large or too small for the space available. Furniture shopping can be a very stressful experience since you have so many options to sort through and hoping something is going to fit isn’t going to make it any easier. If you know exactly how much room you have to play with, that will help narrow down your options and focus your vision.

Making a quick map of your living room before you start rearranging furniture is a quick and easy way to save yourself a lot of time and hassle later!

Creating a Concealed Home Office for Telecommuting

Some studies suggest that as many as 50 million Americans telecommute at least once a week and over two million workers consider their home their primary office space. With so much of the employed force being able to work from home, the need for home office furniture and design ideas is greater than ever. Some telecommuters are lucky enough to have a whole room as their home office (either specifically built as office space or maybe even a former guest bedroom), but for many homeowners and apartment dwellers, their “home office” is little more than a table with a computer crammed into the living room. But just because you are short on space, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great home office to work from!

One of the most important things about creating a home office is that you want it separate from the rest of your living spaces. Many telecommuters find it hard to stop working when they never physically go to and from a new work environment. Work and home life start to melt into each other, but you deserve to close the door at five and call it a day!

To help keep your work and home life separate, especially when you are short on space, consider converting an armoire into a concealed home office. You can add extra shelves for books and papers, file drawers and a pull out shelf for a laptop or keyboard.  On the desk__34727.1458059336.864.850inside doors you add corkboard and use pushpins to help keep ideas, memos and notes organized. When you close the doors at the end of the day a functional workspace is concealed inside. With a custom-fitted armoire, you’ve essentially created your own version of a secretary’s desk!

Another great solution for a concealed home office is by converting an extra closet in a guest bedroom.  You can fit the closet with a small filing cabinet, cubes for storage, floating shelves, wire baskets, peg boards attached to the doors, hooks, sconce for lighting and a small chair. When you are done with your workday you can simply close the door and leave your work in the closet.

The key to keeping a concealed home office functional is to minimize the clutter. After all, you have to be able to shut the doors at the end of the day! Make sure you invest in the right storage solutions; things like small bookcases, shelving units, filing cabinets or even a small hutch make it a lot easier to keep your concealed home office organized and tidy. You don’t have a lot of room to spread out, so be sure to build up if possible (like adding shelves to the back wall of the closet) to optimize the existing space.

Have a Vision BEFORE You Go Furniture Shopping

It’s very easy to walk into a furniture store and immediately be inspired. You have the opportunity to completely redecorate your apartment—who do you want to be? You could go for a cool, white, minimalistic approach that screams modern. Or maybe fun and crazy throw pillows and rugs to show off your creativity! What about 60s-inspired lampshades or a free standing bar? Sometimes having so many options is actually a bad thing for inspiration; it pulls your focus in a dozen different directions at once. You either end up getting frustrated and not buying anything, or making decisions at random and ending up with a hodgepodge of furniture. Neither of these outcomes makes the furniture shopping process very fun.

That’s why it is so important to have a vision (or at the very least a basic idea) BEFORE you go furniture shopping. Having that starting point will help anchor your furniture buying decisions and you’ll walk out with what you need, what you want AND it will all work together.

A good place to start is by using your favorite piece in a room and build out from there. rois_sectional__91597.1446041778.864.850Let’s say you have this great sofa in your living that you want to decorate the rest of the room around. Not only is it the largest piece in your living room (which usually mean it’s the focal point), it’s a design style you love. What are some of the features of that sofa? How tall is it? What is the fabric’s color or pattern? Does it have metal or wood accents? Those details will help you find complementary pieces while your furniture shopping so you can more easily focus your vision.

Before you go furniture shopping, it’s also a good idea to figure out exactly what you need and how it is all going to fit. Chances are your apartment isn’t the same size/shape as the furniture store’s display room, so you need to know what is going to work in your space. You may want the end table AND the bar AND the entertainment center AND the bookcase AND the ottoman, but what can you realistically fit in your space? Having a vision (and a floor plan!) before you walk into the furniture store will help you avoid buying a piece of furniture that will have nowhere to live in your apartment. Also make sure you take measurements! There is nothing more disheartening than finding the perfect piece and realizing it won’t fit up your apartment stairs or through the door.

4 Tips for Decorating a Studio Apartment

Queen Captains BedGothic Cabinet Craft is based in New York City, so we know our way around a studio apartment pretty well. We understand that living in a studio apartment comes with certain design and functionality challenges. Limited floor space, limited room for storage and a limited budget (the main reason someone lives in a studio apartment!) all mean that decorating a studio apartment is no easy feat. In order to decorate your studio apartment without sacrificing functionality, it’s important to remember the following tips:

Be discerning with your design ideas
There is not a lot of room in your studio apartment for design, and too many ideas can make a small space feel even smaller and more cluttered. While there is nothing wrong with mixing prints, patterns and colors, you don’t want to go overboard. You also want to think carefully about what the focal point of your studio apartment is going to be. Maybe you have a really cool love seat with a funky patter you want to show off, or a fantastic view you’re proud off; maybe it’s just a fun poster. Whatever the focal point is, build you studio apartment around that.

Invest in multi-use furniture
When is a bed not a bed? When it’s also a dresser! Multi-purpose furniture like a Captains Bed is a great way to maximize your limited floor space and de-clutter your studio apartment by removing bulky pieces. A secretary desk with drawers gives you plenty of space to work and compartmentalize your office, plus it’s easy to close up and hide any mess when guests come over! You could also get a bookcase that pulls double duty as a headboard or turn a radiator cover into a small shelf.

Create “rooms”
So living in a studio apartment negates the physical presence of rooms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create the allusion of rooms! You can use dividers (easy to move as needed), bookcases or dressers to physically separate the living/sleeping areas from the dining area, or just arrange your furniture so you have a space for sleeping, a space for cooking and space for relaxing.

Make sure there is plenty of light
Nothing makes a small space feel smaller than no light. If you’re studio apartment isn’t blessed with a lot of natural light, invest in some great (and fun looking!) light fixtures to brighten up the space. You can also position mirrors across from windows or other light sources to help reflect the light and make the room feel bigger. Using a lighter color on your walls will also help reflect any light.

These are just a few tips for decorating a studio apartment. Just remember, just because you live in small space that doesn’t mean you can’t love the way your apartment looks and feels! It just takes a few easy design choices to make a studio apartment feel like home.

3 Easy Ways to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

Small spaces are just a fact of life for most urban apartment dwellers. Many apartment owners struggle to find ways to make the small space look and feel bigger, but don’t want to do anything that will clutter up what little space they do have. Visually expanding a room can be hard to do, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible!

If you are looking for way to make your small space feel bigger, here are three easy tips that won’t break your decorating budget:

1. Keep the wall color consistent
One way to help make your small apartment look and feel bigger is to use the same wall color throughout multiple rooms. This tricks the eye into thinking that the space is much bigger because the line between rooms isn’t broken by different colored walls. Contrary to what most people believe, dark colored walls don’t automatically make a space feel smaller. In fact, a dark wall with light molding makes the wall feel farther back, once again creating the illusion of more space.

2. Don’t hang everything at eye level
A good photographer knows that when it comes to mounting their work, there should always be a little extra space below the image compared to above it. This helps keep the picture from looking like its being pushed down and squished. The same holds true for your artwork and other wall decorations! Hanging everything at eye level will make your space feel short, and when you’re already trying to combat small you don’t want anything to look like it’s shrinking! Hang things a little above eye level, or even try a few low pieces, GK31__79531.1419891050.864.850to keep the eye moving.

If you one of the lucky few that have vaulted ceilings (even if it means you still don’t have the floor space), draw the eyes up by hanging art work high and investing in tall bookcases. It may not be as easy to clean, but it will help you take advantage of the height in your apartment.

3. Invest in mirrors
Mirrors are a small apartment owner’s best friend. Large mirrors, or even a cluster of small mirrors, can really help open up a space. Putting a mirror across from a window will help reflect limited natural light, which can also help make a room feel more open and bright. If you live in a basement apartment and don’t have windows in your room, hang up a large mirror and add curtains to give the look and feel of a window.

When trying to make a small space feel bigger, it’s important to not go overboard. You don’t have to use every trick in the book to make your apartment look and feel bigger. Sometimes just one or two things, provided they are the right things, can make all the difference.