Designer has a great solution for the space race


Q: I need help figuring out how to fit both my home office and a guest room in the very small second bedroom of our apartment. I looked into Murphy beds - the kind that fold up against the wall - but ended up with a neat little sleep sofa. The problem is my desk. I've thought about putting it into an armoire or cupboard where I could simply close the doors. Would it be smarter to have it built in? With the sofa bed open, there would be just enough room to squeeze around it. Ideas wanted!

A: Here's a handsome one from top interior designer Leonard Braunschweiger (, who took a golden shoehorn, so to speak, to the tiny study we show here. His inspired solution to the space race involves built-ins - and not just the bookshelves that make the most of storage space on the walls: the small desk you see in the middle of the floor pulls out during office hours, then rolls back into place in the wall arrangement by night.


Because the arrangement is so elegantly designed and finished in hardwood veneers, guests can settle in comfortably, never suspecting Braunschweiger's sleight-of-hand.

Q: I have a galley kitchen. What would look better, a round or a rectangular table? I have a round glass top-rattan base table and rattan barrel chairs with cushions that are very comfortable but take up walking space. I have considered a bench or a church pew with a small farm table. The way it is now is very crowded. Also, is there a rule that a rectangular space should have rectangular furniture?

A: No rule, but a common sense of proportions tells us that it would be the most economical use of your limited space. Obviously, you've already intuited exactly that - I like your idea of a bench or church pew, both of which are basically rectangular in shape. I suggest that you move your round table ensemble to another location and focus on the, ahem, straight and narrow for this striated space with which you are dealing.

Under the circumstances, one of the best tables would be an old-fashioned drop-leaf. It can go from mere inches wide with the sides dropped down to a generous serving space for many when the leaves are raised. Flanked by your bench or church pew on one side and pull-up chairs on the other, a drop-leaf would max the overall elbow room within your open dining "room."

Q: You have suggested that one place an area rug over existing wall-to-wall, to bring color and pattern into a room. My problem is, the edges lift up when you step on them, and also, the area rug "walks" on the main carpet. Also, when I try to set my coffee table on the area rug, it settles in and then pulls up the sides of the area rug. I would appreciate your advice on this.

A: A piece of no-slip mesh under the rug should keep your "walking" rugs at home. As for the curling sides, sounds as if you need a thinner, more pliable area rug, say, a flexible oriental - the kind rug dealers can fold almost to napkin-size. It's probably their stiff backing and thick, tight weaving that's making your rugs so unyielding.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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