Tip #150: Go with the flow.
Growing up, my sisters and I had a plastic Little Tikes playhouse that we kept in our backyard. I adored it. You know the one? With the green roof and red door? The yellow shutters made for slamming shut dramatically? The folding table and the yellow phone? I’d hang out the dutch door barking orders to my younger sisters for hours without losing interest. (By some miracle, they stuck around.)
I recently had the experience of being invited to someone else’s home in the neighborhood. In a towering brownstone, a group of women passed the evening in just one of its beautiful rooms, twice the size of our current apartment and then some. It was fabulously decorated, like something that Zelda Fitzgerald might have dreamed up. It made our apartment feel like a grown-up version of a Little Tikes playhouse; a whole house shrunk to fit into just one room. And like that simple plastic playhouse, our apartment is one that requires a fair bit of imagination to enjoy.
In our home, we need one room to fulfill roles that are often divvied up by at least four different ones. (Here’s the layout, in case you’re curious.) I’ve written a bit before about carving out spaces within a small space so that you might enjoy each function separately, but as important as it’s been for me to end up with distinct kitchen, living, and sleeping zones, a project that I just finished this weekend reminded me that it’s also crucial that each of these spaces flows visually one into the next.
This example is kid-specific, because, well, there are two of them in here now. The same concept can be put into practice whether or not you live in a place with tiny humans running amok.
After Silas was born, we decided the time had come to welcome a kid-sized table and chairs into our apartment. We wanted Faye to have a space that she could access easily and her art projects had started to outgrow the shelf we’d designated for them before. We found an unfinished children’s table and chairs for sale on Etsy. This weekend, I painted it.
Getting the table to fit into a flow that felt comfortable took a little bit of consideration. I initially thought I’d finish it with a beeswax and linseed oil, but when I did the bright yellow pine just became more so and proved a bit jarring in a small space with so much wood of a much more patinaed variety. Next I thought about painting the table the same deep navy that we’ve painted our bedroom furniture, but I decided I wanted those pieces to retain their unity in the “sleeping zone.” I briefly entertained the idea of a stain, but I’ve never had luck staining pine and I didn’t have reason to believe this time would be different. I wondered about painting the table a soft taupe to complement the brown woods without trying to mimic them, but for now I’ve settled on a pale bluish gray, leftover from our closet stencil project. I like that the current color echoes the other blues in our apartment, without commanding too much attention and that the space exists as its own entity while working peaceably with the rest of the joint.
To improve the corner where the table sits, I lowered a print to better suit the table’s scale, restored Faye’s toolbox to its proper place on the table, tacked up a few book jacket illustrations, and photographed it while she slept and before she unleashed her artistic fury on the blank slates before her. Flow, in a tiny apartment.
For the curious:
We bought our Colorado-made wooden table and chairs from Endeavor Toys on Etsy. (Highly recommend.)
The table is painted Lily White from Benjamin Moore. Faye calls it white; I stand by my contention that it’s a very pale blue.
The print is called Homestead, by Beauchamping. It’s custom framed, by a local shop, and was a wedding gift from my parents. If you’re curious about similar framing options and don’t have a local option, we’ve had luck with both Framebridge and Simply Framed.