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Most renters prefer separate bedroom

Dear Gail: We’ve purchased a home with a small studio above our garage. We’d like to make it into a rental and need to add a shower and enclosed bedroom. The studio is only 400 square feet, and we don’t want to invest a fortune in it, so we’re not open to moving the plumbing, doors or windows.

With the door, window and kitchen locations, the bedroom will only be 94 inches wide by 94 inches long and will not have a window. So our question is, do you feel we should add the bedroom? If we do, what suggestions can you give us on how to decorate it as we’re considering furnishing it. — Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth: Even though the room will be small, I personally think an enclosed bedroom would be preferable by most renters. I know open lofts are popular, but I’ve had a couple of friends who thought they would be cool to have, but once the leases were up, they were out of there.

First, let’s look at what mattress size you should purchase. With the size of the room, I’d suggest a full-size mattress will give them more space around the bed. No one wants to climb over another person to get into bed.

A full-size bed will give you room for an 18-inch-wide nightstand, and give renters room to make the bed. You’d also have 20 inches from the door to the end of the bed.

A queen bed would be super tight, not leaving room for even one nightstand unless the bed was pushed against the wall. Otherwise, there would only be 10 inches on the sides, so not everyone would even be able to get around the bed without climbing in at the bottom. I’m average size and wouldn’t be able to get in even by turning sideways.

For lighting, use pendants, which will give them room on the nightstands to put things. Plus, the pendants will give it a stylish feel and more light than a tiny lamp.

Also, put in a ceiling fan with a light kit. It will provide additional light and air circulation, which is very important in such a small space.

Of course, paint the walls a lighter color but do an impressive focal wall. A faux white brick on the headboard wall would give the room dimension. Don’t be afraid to use a headboard — one that is straight and narrow that you can mount on the wall.

For artwork, use three vertical pieces instead of one and then a large mirror across from the grouping. Three individual pieces will move the eyes around the room versus stopping at one big piece. The mirror will reflect light and give depth to the wall.

In the kitchen, bring the cabinets to the ceiling. It doesn’t matter if the cabinets or shelves are too high to use daily; it’s storage space. Use a glass-top nook table as it will open up the room.

In the bath, put an over-the-toilet shelving cabinet. They’re not my favorite, but if you look around, you’ll find one that is stylish.

Now for the door. Instead of a standard door, do a sliding door with frosted glass. The glass will help to give it a little bit more of an open feel. Install it on the outside, so you’re not taking up any wall space in the room. Off-center the door giving you enough space to mount a TV on the wall.

Providing enough storage is a challenge in a small studio, so here are a couple of storage ideas to consider. In the bedroom, use rollout storage bins under the bed, which they can access from the side. In the living area, invest in a floor to ceiling wall unit even if you must have it custom made. The upper cabinets can store off-season clothes and rarely used items.

Purchase a sleeper sofa for when they have guests. In the past, they were uncomfortable, but now you’ll find ones that you can’t even tell you’re sitting on a bed. If you don’t want a sleeper sofa, there are also sleeper chairs and ottomans.

If you have room for ottoman, purchase one that has storage. They are one of my top suggestions to put in every home. Look for a coffee and end table with drawers.

Look around and see if there are any other places to add storage, even if it’s a small area. It’s amazing what you’ll see when you think out of the box.

Elizabeth, I hope these suggestions will make your studio stand out from all the other rentals.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or, mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is www.GMJinteriors.com.

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