Making the most of a small bedroom

If you have a tiny room that you're looking to turn into a bedroom for your child or a guest, getting the most out of the space is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

Think carefully about what space you have and whether you can use furniture that folds away or has more than one purpose. Loft beds, which allow a desk underneath, and Murphy beds are good space-savers. Also, filling up the wall with built-in cabinets or a flexible storage system are options.

The Container Store sells a $633 wall-mounted "Elfa" shelving system that's designed both as storage space and a kid-sized desk. For adults, similar office shelving and desk systems cost from $300 to more than $1,000.

A good way to save space without spending too much money is to turn old dresser drawers into under-the-bed storage containers, said Kathy Wilson, editor of the Web site In a small bedroom, it's essential to "keep clutter to an absolute minimum," she said.

To create the illusion of a larger room, Wilson advises painting woodwork and trim the same color as the walls. Also, use light colors and make sure curtains and blinds don't block the window. "You want as much light in the room as possible," she said.

Elizabeth Mayhew, special projects editor at House Beautiful magazine, lives in a three-bedroom apartment. Her 8-year-old son's room is a "classic New York shoebox" — about 61/2 feet wide by 12 feet long.

To maximize the space, she had a cabinet maker build floor-to-ceiling drawers and cabinets on one wall of her son's room. Everyday items are in the bottom three drawers.

"You have to maximize every bit of storage," Mayhew said. "You have to use that space under the bed. You have to use your wall space efficiently."

Mayhew says trundle beds are great for a kids' room if your child is having a friend sleep over. Or, for studio apartments, a day bed such as Pottery Barn's $650 Savannah daybed (another $50 adds a trundle) can make a decent couch during the day and a twin-sized bed at night.

Wall beds, also known as Murphy beds after inventor William L. Murphy, are another option. They are popular among empty-nesters who want their guest rooms to double as exercise rooms or offices, says Kristin Johnson, marketing director for Old Creek Wall Bed Factory in Corvallis.

About 70 percent of the company's business comes from that market, she said, with the rest coming from urban dwellers in places like New York and Washington. The company's fold-down beds range from $1,900 to $2,500 and can be installed by the homeowner.

"People are trying to find new creative ways to use and optimize their space and keep it as a functional space but also get the most use out of it, she said.

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