Research reveals variations on this solution in historic farmhouses as well as royal castles across Europe and Scandinavia. Today, renditions of traditional sleeping alcoves are found in urban studio apartments from Seattle to Manhattan.
In the photo, interior designer Jane Marsden converted the attic space in a Blue Ridge Mountain cottage into a charming dormitory loft. She created four single-bed alcoves for use by the owners' friends or future grandchildren. Imagine the fun that could be had by four friends or cousins sharing this cozy room. This idea could be adapted to many a tight bedroom where being small actually helps to achieve the desired feeling.
Marsden used an exaggerated thickness for the curtain rod shown in the photo to hold panels at the windows and to shelter each bed position. You could achieve the same function with off-the-shelf curtain rods in diameters from 1 1/2-inches to 3 inches. Fabric panels with grommet holes are available in a huge variety of choices in stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, J.C. Penney's, Target, or Pottery Barn. A Web search will yield dozens of examples.
If you have the budget for a little bit of electrical improvement, it would be a great touch to add an individual light fixture in each compartment. Our example shows simple sconces, but you might consider a fixture with an articulating arm so one could read in bed. You might want to select a fixture designed to handle 100-watt bulbs, and then put the fixture on a dimmer switch. Installing a two-plug electrical outlet per space would allow for computer use after others have turned in for the night.
A similar private result might be achieved by using a four-poster bed that allows for fabric panels. If your ceiling height is 8 feet or lower, be selective when you choose a style of bed. Avoid very thick bedposts, as they will overpower the space. Instead, look for a wrought-iron design with thinner parts, or a Shaker-style bed with slim wooden supports.
Bunk beds are a good, old-fashioned method for accommodating more people in one room. Adding a trundle-bed can provide sleeping space for three people in a minimum amount of floor space.
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.