x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

House Doctor: Create more space with a few small changes

Some rearranging and creativity result in more surface area as well as a more airy feeling in the room.

In my opinion, a person's bedroom should be their sanctuary. And when considering how to design one's private space, I emphasise personal aesthetics in co-ordination with my needs. In redesigning my apartment, I wanted to use the bedroom as both my sleeping and work area, leaving the lounge and living area free for relaxation and entertaining.

When I moved in, my small bedroom housed a king-size bed, two large side cabinets and a wide, nine-drawer dresser. All of this for one person. So much furniture crowded the room that I was unable to open one end of the wardrobe without moving a table. In addition, the bed occupied an expansive floor area, making the room appear small.

Although it seems to be a global tradition to furnish a bedroom using a matching furniture suite comprising of a bed and matching bedside tables, there is no rule about this. The compromise of a king-size bedroom set versus floor space is not one I am prepared to make, so I plan to get a replacement bed in a US queen size (160cm x 200cm), which makes much more sense.

In my design, I rearranged the room by pushing the bed towards the corner (I only ever walk to the other side to change the bed linens), and placed a dual-purpose bedside table/desk at the side. The change in bed size and relocation to the corner added almost two square metres of floor space to the side of the bed I use. A smaller six-drawer dresser/bureau with a bookcase beside it will create storage efficiency on the wall across from the bed.

I also plan on using a low bed frame, which will open up the wall space above for artwork. In addition to the greater usable floor area, more exposed wall surface will add to the open feeling of the room.

A bedroom should have a variety of lighting depending on the occupants' needs, so I plan to change the inefficient, ceiling-mounted light with a more sculptural fixture, and add table lamps to my bedside table-desk and dresser. The variety will permit me to have bright light when working or low light when relaxing.

A bedroom also should have sufficient storage for clothes, shoes and other items. Soon after moving in, I modified the wardrobe to create a double-height hanging space. Originally, the single hanging bar meant wasted space above and below. I took the dimensions of the wardrobe with me to Ace Hardware and netted a clothing rod (which was cut to fit) and mounting brackets. In effect, I doubled the closet space for less than Dh100.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah. His column can be read every week in House & Home.