Good Questions Extra Space in Awkwardly Shaped Room Apartment Therapy

Good Questions: Extra Space in Awkwardly Shaped Room?

Darcie is looking for some ideas: Help us, AT. We live in Chicago in a renovated 4-room duplex. The front room is split by a staircase leaving an awkward space on the side of the room. We’ve lived here for two years and never go back into this space! How can we utilize this space so that we’ll have a reason to use it.


What if you put some bookcases across the back wall and a desk under the window and used it as a home office/computer area?

Or you could put some enclosed cabinets back there for your shoes, coats and other storage, place a bench under the window and keep your bicycle and dog bed there as a sort of mudroom/landing strip area?

it’s kinda perfect as guest area/office/library, no?

Yes runner is not to good,I’d remove it. The back wall needs to make some sort of statement so it feels like a defined area. I’d put shelves/ storage up against the back wall and make it into big storage/ home office, or paint it or make an accent wall. There are a LOT of different colors and furniture styles lighting strategies in the space. part of why it feel incoherent. Pick one base color scheme and work from there.

this space is currently dark and unwelcoming. this reminds me of a den, which in my own mind is a terribly outdated notion.

my suggestions are

-remove the brown runner on the stairs so that you can see the gorgeous wood and architecture of the staircase

-take the curtains off the windows. if you must have curtains, make them white or neutral and spread them open.

-additonal items i’m not so fond of: the dear head, the tablecloth, the black lamp.

otherwise, you have some great elements here. the staircase is actually quite striking and should be highlighted. you have nice wood floors, keep them exposed. the two chairs shown are nice too, so think about rearranging them.

do you need a dining room? do you want to have a more formal type of living room? do you have a collection that could be displayed — plants, books, artwork, musical instruments, antiques, etc.

Removing the runner will really open up the space and your room in general. Can you use some treads or something instead? One thing you need to do is give yourself a reason to go in that area. Maybe put a piece of art you really love to look at or a chair you really love to sit in back there.

If you don’t need an extra sitting area. then don’t make it an extra sitting area. There’s nothing wrong with having a serene space in one’s house. Maybe a nice striking floor lamp along the lines of a Noguchi akari floor lamp. A simple table. A minimalist tableau that is pleasing to look at.

Or be functional and use it to store and organize your daily goods.

For instance, I see a bicycle in the corner of the photo. perhaps the bicycle could have a home in this nook?

I also see random cluttery bits under the stairs. The runner kinda hides it. Sorry. this is apartment therapy and there’s no room for random cluttery bits! Declutter and find a storage piece that attractively accomodates what remains. This is where IKEA excels. Fashion a kind of tansu chest under the stairs with Billy bookcases with doors or baskets to keep yourself organized.

Begin with removing that runner. It’s hiding the nice wood.

I’m guessing that the green couch?(Can’t really tell from the pic) would fit nicely under the stairs, making a cozy reading nook. Move the desk to where the green couch was. So that the chairs and couch face each other, and it might help to have the wooden coffee table in between. I’m not fond of that little grey/metal side table. It seems to clash with the wood and colours.

I think there’s an awful lot of colour, which is fine, but it’s competing with the darkness of the wood. I think the easiest thing to do is remove the drapes, and put up ones in a neutral colour.

Maybe you could add a large picture where the animal head is. I think also that there is too much visual clutter. There’s so much going on, what with the bike, pet bed, multiple seating areas. Is there anywhere that the bike can be stored? The pet bed might be nicely «hidden» under the lower part of the stairs beside where the couch might go.

Anywho, hope that helps, just an idea!

Extra space, sigh, not a problem most of us have. I agree with JenPDX, if you don’t need a sitting room dedicate the area to some other activity you do often. It looks like this area is right off your living room so if you like to entertain you could replace the chairs with a counter height table, stools and a bar/sideboard. I also agree with highlighting the staircase — a white painted stripe approx the width of the current runner would be modern and might brighten up the space. I’d also ditch those curtains.

I had the same problem at home, and I wish I could send you the pictures so you can appreciate the change it made to the whole area. What we did is take the exact same staircase you have, and softly and with love move it and install it on the back wall (you’ll have to watch out for the measurments) You might need to make the landing a little bit smaller, but I’m sure some of the maths from school can be put into a good purpose. Then under the stairs put some bookshelves or a clutter box, doggy bed.

Definetly get rid of the red tableclooth, the blue curtians and the black lamp. You have some lovely pieces of furniture there which get lost with the other stuff you’ve got there.

I hope this helped, and I’m sorry if my english is not so good.

One way to visually open it up would be to paint the staircase the same color as the walls. I would also add some warm and inviting lighting that is at the level of the seating. As it is, the deer head could interrogate whomever is sitting there. ;-) I agree with removing the clutter under the stairs. Also add a rug to warm it up and pick a color theme to give it some cohesive properties. The chairs and the draperies could be interesting on their own, but all together it doesn’t feel like they were intended for the same room.

Last, I’d remove the haphazard picture arrangement along the stairs. It’s too much clutter with the handrail.

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