15 Great Ideas From One Grand Room – and its Soane-ian Inspiration

Decorating, like life, is full of pre-conceived notions and beliefs disguised as facts. Letting go of them is not only liberating but leads to new possibilities. Living in limited space does not dictate limited beauty or even limited things. Edited, yes, but that is true of any good design. In great testament to that are the big ideas in House Beautiful’s July/August Small Spaces issue is. One in particular took me somewhere new: the one-room-loft of New York architects Bill Brockschmidt and Richard Dragisic. Interiors by (the same) Brockschmidt & (Courtney) Coleman, whose classic-with-a-twist looks we love.

Brockschmidt loft in House Beautiful
One-room living does not a minimalist make. Photo by Simon Watson, via House Beautiful

The blogosphere also loved the HB small spaces issue and this loft in particular, with an especially good post at the polished and indispensable Apartment Therapy blog some days ago.

‘Course if you’re going to live in one room, this would be a good one to do it in. The HB piece is entitled “One-Room Grandeur,” and that’s what it is. The room’s scale and proportions enable it tremendously, but there is much to glean here even for those of us who do not have 15-foot ceilings.

1. Pictures and curtains hung all the way to the ceiling draw the eye up and enhance the sense of height and scale. 2. See that tiny molding painted black? It gives a sense of “architecture.” A nice detail. 3. How about the bookcases built in under the stairs? 4. And the desk! Love how it is lined in the same zippy Adelphi wallpaper that also covers the folding doors in front of the closet and kitchen.

Brockschmidt loft in House Beautiful
The built-in desk is a stroke of genius,  one of several strokes here…

5. And how about the pictures hung right on the doors like they’re not even there. Sometimes if you ignore something it really does go away. (Note this theory does not apply to your health.) 6. The trick to hanging a group of pictures is to space them evenly apart. With frames of varying size it can’t always work out perfectly, but that is the rule of thumb. Work out your arrangement on the floor first.

Brockschmidt loft in House Beautiful
Pictures are arranged large at top to smaller at bottom, which makes sense because the smaller ones are easier to see lower down. In-between spacing is as uniform as possible. 

7. Of course you ca layer a beautiful rug over a sisal carpet. 8. A room doesn’t have to be as big as this to handle a strong color, but it’s certainly a statement, and a strong background for the art and objects.

Brockschmidt loft in House Beautiful
From above. Yes that is a harpsichord and yes he plays it and wow.

9. The chandelier is lit only by candlelight. Romantic and beautiful at night. 10. A dining table doubles as a library table. Ditto with the room itself – a good multi-tasking solution is to have a dining room double as library.  11. A custom-made harpsichord is a heck of a conversation piece.

Brockschmidt loft in House Beautiful
Ikea cabinets tarted up

12. Inexpensive kitchens can be made to look great. These are Ikea cabinets jazzed up with paint, formica counters, and subway tile as backsplash. 13. Dress up a tiny sleeping alcove with a cornice, curtains (attached with Velcro for easy removal and cleaning), and trim. 14. Use sconces as bedside reading lamps when space is tight. Or even when it isn’t. Bedside tables and storage are hidden behind the curtains.

Brockschmidt loft, bedroom, House Beautiful
The sleeping alcove. Photo by Simon Watson, via House Beautiful. It’s So charming, but I bet they dread changing the sheets.

In Lisa Cregan’s fine interview for HB, Bill also mentions that they are influenced by the work of Sir John Soane, and if you’ve ever been to the great classicist and collector’s house-museum in London you see it immediately. Here are a few images from the Sir John Soane House Museum, via their website.

Soane House
Soane House – The striking ochre color and the books, books, books.
Soane House
Soane House – Pictures hung on doors. Layers and layers of paintings and objects. The olive walls.

15. Travel is always a source of inspiration, for whatever you do. Don’t you agree?

All House Beautiful images by Simon Watson. The two noted are via HouseBeautiful.com, and the others are FS photos of the magazine pages.


  1. I love-love-love this month’s issue of House Beautiful and droooooled over the room that you featured above!
    I completely agree that travel is ALWAYS a source of inspiration…hope to do so again with you one day, dear Frances!

  2. I loved this issue of House Beautiful and was so excited to see color, color and more color. This apartment is genius from the book storage to the desk and sleeping area. I would hate to change those sheets, but the room is stunning.
    xo, Lissy

  3. I also loved this article in House Beautiful and also love your step by step explication here, as well as the additional photos from England. I have a largish family room with high ceilings. Maybe I can go with a deeper colour than I have?

    1. Thank you, Susan, and yes you could by all means consider a deeper color – and for the ceiling as well. A dark ceiling can be very effective and can cozy up a large room as well. Thanks for writing. 🙂

  4. Love, love, love small spaces issues. My nest is a whopping 576 square feet and I love every inch of it. You can use deep colors, prints, whatever, in small spaces, as long as you love it, go for it, carpe diem! I thought the bit about hanging pictures on a door was great, I do that all the time. There used to be a show called Small Spaces, Big Style, it featured some wonderful homes. Sure do miss it. Wishing you a grand weekend!

  5. My favorite kind of spaces. My last apartment in NYC was a one room with big windows. I did the curtain thing, but funds being what they were in those days, mine was created with foam board and duct tape. Voila! it worked (if you didn’t touch them) I think the bolder the colors as in this one, the better. Thanks for sharing, hope you are enjoying some lazy daze! xo P

  6. oh i so agree regarding travel, often i am relaxed and ideas flood in
    my all time favorite museum is sir john soane’s, you have to experience it to fully grasp his style

    greta tutorial frances, you brought so much to my attention, thank you!

    1. Debra, thank you so much for writing.
      Everybody, do y’all know about Debra’s blog 5th and State? V cool. Go. Now. 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.