Fitting your old furniture into a narrow bedroom


Q: The bedroom in our new apartment is long and narrow. We're not able to fit all of our standard bedroom furniture into this space because of its difficult configuration. Do we really need to buy a whole new set of furnishings, or is there a way to arrange at least a few of our old pieces in a functional and comfortable manner?

A: If it's any consolation, your predicament is not unusual. Many bedrooms, especially in new apartments, are proportioned in accordance with a floor plan that allows as many units as possible to be shoehorned into a building.

These long and narrow rooms often seem adequate when viewed without furniture. But as you have discovered, it can be almost impossible to arrange the various pieces in a typical layout with, for example, a bed and dresser positioned opposite one another. Creative space planning, however, can produce a sufficiently large circulation area while enabling you to avoid the expense of buying a new bedroom ensemble.

Because I don't know the exact dimensions of your furniture, it's difficult for me to propose a specific solution. In general, though, you should be aware that there's no reason why a dresser or even a pair of dressers cannot be placed alongside a bed. These pieces can then take on the additional function of a night table.

If you have only a standard double dresser, it might make sense to replace it with two smaller chests of drawers. They can then be arranged on either side of the bed.

The photo suggests another adaptive approach. In this long room, a simple queen-size bed was made into focal point by affixing crown molding to the ceiling to produce a canopied effect. The end of the room near the window then became a sitting area, doubling as a charming breakfast nook. A pair of chests could also have been placed on the sides of the bed without limiting access to any part of the room.

The designer of this space chose to include a decorative bookcase-secretary done in a painted finish. It provides ample storage space while also serving as a combination desk-night table.

Such a layout is especially successful when the room includes a small adjacent dressing area or a walk-in closet. Folded clothing can be stored there in built-in drawers rather than in a traditional dresser, thus eliminating the problem of where to put that often clumsy piece of furniture. If your own bedroom offers such an option, you should have no trouble finding the appropriate shelving or a few simple pieces of ready-made furniture in your local home-furnishings store.

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