Ryan and I have lived in our sweet little 550 square foot basement apartment for three years now, and since moving in we've tried to make the most of the cozy, quirky space. I say quirky because our home features such San Francisco charm as 1) curved walls in the living room, 2) a two foot high built-in bench in the kitchen, and 3) a small, foot high ledge that surrounds half of the perimeter of our bedroom floor.
I love these annoying little quirks. I love that friends of ours lived in an apartment in a nearby neighborhood where you could only access one of the kitchen drawers if you opened the door to the oven. I think it's hilarious and endearing that we can vacuum our entire home without having to move the plug between outlets. These are the sorts of things that while slightly irritating, I recognize that I will look back on lovingly in years to come. My parents have charming stories of the teeny apartments they rented in New York, and I feel like someday I'll get to recount the time that Ryan and I lived in the apartment with all the weird ledges to our kids who will then romanticize our years in the city as I have done with my folks.
Now that I have added a nice, softening filter to what we're working with in this place, I have to say, the ledges aren't great. They have certainly presented their fair share of design challenges, most of which revolve around not being able to place furniture flush against walls. For years I owned a large, bulky dresser that was stuffed to the brim with all sorts of partially folded clothes. Up until recently, it was positioned near the foot our bed, flush against a ledge, leaving about a foot of space between its back and the walls and windows. If it's hard to picture, let me just tell you that it was not a great look. In fact, I don't think I even have a before picture to show you if I wanted to. I ardently avoided all photo documentation of that particular corner of our apartment.
After six months of capsuling, coupled with a year-long desire to change up the look and feel of our bedroom, I began to reconsider the need for our heavy-duty chest of drawers altogether. I took inventory of everything that was currently living in the dresser, completed another purge, and found a much smaller, closet-sized chest on craigslist. Much to my delight, everything fit with room to spare. Bidding farewell to the large dresser freed up quite a bit of space in our room, and sparked the need for some creativity in redesign. With the dresser gone, I was left with the opportunity to make use of the strange ledges, rather than pretend they didn't exist. I took on this project the same way I embark on most challenges: with research, online cost comparisons, and some truly rudimentary sketches of what could possibly work.
And then, with a rough plan in mind and my tape measure in hand, I went to Ikea and picked out a few new shelving units with the exact depth of the bedroom ledge. I was adamant that those darn ledges, which were such an eyesore for three years, would be put to use. Failure and wasted space were not options. The ledges were to become contributing members of our apartment design, so help me.
A little elbow grease and a trip to Home Depot later and I absolutely adore our new room. Not only did we create new storage to display a portion of our ever-growing library (and my globe collection), but I got to engage in one of my most favorite hobbies - shelf styling! Where once stood an obtrusive, over-sized dresser, we now have partial natural light and houseplants. It's a great trade off, and I fully attribute our ability to overhaul the room to our capsules. Fewer clothes = fewer storage needs = wide open spaces!