Location: Washington, D.C.
With its Washingtonian charm, this lovely renovated row house became the perfect home to four young professionals living in one of the fastest growing and most vibrant cities in America. Like them and many millennials across the country, getting a start in the big city can sometimes be daunting, which may suggest that shared housing is the only affordable option. However, American millennials tend to value simplicity over luxury, which has heavily influenced the trends in design. This tendency is clearly noticeable for our young group as we found ourselves facing common challenges of shared housing such as comfort, space and storage.
To address comfort, we recognized the necessity of personal space and thus distributed the rooms proportionally. The couple of our group took the basement suite, which consisted of a small bedroom with a small closet, kitchenette, den, laundry closet without appliances and storage under the staircase. Then, the other two individuals took up the two bedrooms on the second floor, which also consisted of a bathroom and the laundry closet with a washer and dryer unit. Lastly, the main floor, consisting of an open living space with a kitchen and small powder room, was agreed upon as the shared space among all housemates.
After distributing everyone's rooms, we maximized the space and created storage everywhere possible by using practical, functional and slender furniture, which we were fortunate to get from friends and from people around our neighborhood. We placed a medium sized sofa with a chair, two side tables, a credenza, and suspended the TV on the wall. This layout allowed a compact and comfortable living space. More so, it opened up a space between the now living room and the kitchen, thus creating a small dining area. We used a unique high table with extra storage and backless stools that tuck underneath, helping save even more space. We finished the design by adding two extra bar stools around the kitchen island to allow more seating for guests, and hung tall artwork to accentuate the high ceilings. In the kitchen, we installed ladder shelves as to not crowd and cover the lovely windows, which also allowed for extra appliance and food storage. By doing all of this, our common area became suitable for the housemates as well as guests, in addition to becoming a perfect environment for our daily interactions.
The basement suite was perfectly conditioned for the couple of our group, as it appeared to be a separate apartment unit in the past. This was very helpful as the kitchenette allowed for more food storage. The existing closet in the bedroom wasn't big enough for the couple. Despite this, the lack of a washer and dryer in the basement laundry closet was modified to create a second closet, which was concealed using simple panels on rails. In the den, we placed a futon that allowed for multiple purposes as the space could become a spacious lounge when closed and a comfortable guest room when opened. To finish the corridor, we used a simple screen to cover the not-so-pleasant utility closet door and a tall mirror over the under-stair storage opening, which made the corridor appear more spacious.
In the second floor, our roommate living in the front bedroom wanted to fit a larger bed without compromising space for storage. So, we got a tall bed with practical storage underneath and a simple flat dresser, not only maximizing storage but also creating a small lounging space. As for the back bedroom, our roommate lacked a built-in closet but had a larger area to work with compared to the front bedroom. This space was perfect for a sleek armoire, which complemented the simple style of the rest of the house.
After everything came together, we have learned that we didn't achieve a glorified housemate situation, but a place where four friends can collaborate and grow just like a family. We are hoping that millennials around the country, who might face the same challenges, understand that design within reach does not necessarily mean compromising comfort or personal needs. We also hope that other generations understand that design simplicity can bring together a beautiful home without much luxury, which a city like Washington may suggest. For us, four young professionals, this is how together we converted our rental into our home.
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