Atoll murphy bed
Ask an Expert: A Top Designer's 7 Favorite Space-Saving Ideas
Friday, April 30, 2010

We asked Judith Cohen, a New York-based interior designer who has spent 20 years inside apartments all over Manhattan, for her best tips and tricks on maximizing a small space. Here are her top seven tips:

1. Go up…maximize the vertical. Make the space multifunctional, if possible.
2. Clean design furnishings.
3. If one has the budget, custom built-in furniture is perfect; beds, dressers, desks and bookcases can be installed in a tiny bedroom or office, look great and function brilliantly. Murphy beds are being made by many manufacturers and there are many new retail outlets whose furniture rivals that of custom built. Stores sell what they call the “apartment sofa,” which is still comfortable, but on a smaller scale.
4. To make the space more interesting, use funky fabrics, great lighting and interesting paint colors.
5. Focus on natural light as much as possible to make the space seem larger.
6. The more storage space, the better, so that there is no clutter. The Small Space is all about the plan.
7. Repurpose the spaces that you don’t need. A number of years ago, a client purchased a grand pre-war duplex in New York City. The first floor rooms were enormous, with the ceilings over nine feet high. Off the entry hall was a library with a tiny, adjacent powder room. The homeowner wanted to use the library for reading, relaxing and solitude, with its wood-burning fireplace and stunning view of Central Park. I suggested building custom bookcases and cabinets surrounding the fireplace; however, the homeowner did not want to build in. Instead, we turned to the adjacent powder room into our “library” by installing faux bookcase wall covering on all walls from floor to ceiling. We further dressed it up with an elegant antique mirror and sconces, a beautiful light fixture, marble floor and music stand. The small powder room was successful because it combined fantasy with elegance and function.

Stay tuned for more advice from Judith—how to deck out your tiny apartment with big-city flair!

Judith Cohen is an interior designer whose work is sophisticated, elegant and comfortable. With a well-defined design sense that incorporates clean lines, traditional elements and quality materials, she creates beautiful and luxurious interiors. She founded Judith Cohen Design more than 20 years ago. Now Judith specializes in residential and corporate projects in New York City, Westchester County and Connecticut. Her signature style has been featured in Redbook, Woman’s Day, House Beautiful, Home Ideas and Family Circle. She has written articles for Westchester Cottages & Gardens, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens and The Scarsdale Inquirer. Two children’s rooms are featured in the book Rooms to Grow, Creating Rooms and Furniture for Children by Jane Cornell. Visit


[main image: Atoll Fold-Away Wall Bed from]

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Tags: Ask An Expert, Interior Design, Living/dining


Ha! Love the story about the library in the powder room. Too clever!
By Anonymous 1459 days ago

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