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  Small studio/wood paneling/limited budget nightmare!
Small studio/wood paneling/limited budget nightmare! Sign In/Join 
Dear DYIers,

I like to think that when life gives me lemons, I can find the lobster to squeeze it on, but life has given me a small crappy studio apartment. It is half underground, so there is not much natural light, the ceiling tiles are kinda sagging-but they're plastic so it's not water damage, there is no division of space between "kitchen" "living room" and "bedroom," and the worst and hardest sin to ignore, wood paneling on two walls. The lady who showed me the apartment said I could paint the wood, if when I move out, I could restore the wood back, which I don't know how that would work, so I guess I'm settling on trying to find a way to cover up the walls. Any ideas?

As far as division of space goes, I want a slight amount of separation from the sleeping area without making the space look smaller than it already is-if this is impossible, I'll get over it.

My final problem, there is no counter at all, so I'm trying to find a cheep table, that can substitute as an island/counter and not be in the way. Any ideas are greatly appreciated. I have attached my sketch of the place, not to scale because its by hand, but it helps.


Posts: 1 | Registered: Apr 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Fabric may become you new best friend. You can hang curtain panels to look like you have more windows than you really have. Mirrors can help reflect light. Don't forget lighting.

Screens, bookcases and shelves can be used as dividers. Bookcases and shelves can add some storage by using baskets and boxes.

Drop leaf table might be something to think about. Leaves can be down to give space when not using. On HGTV several years ago, on one of their deco shows, they had a coffee table that could be raised to make a dining height table.

My suggestions are just general ideas. I am sure you will get better more specific ideas.

Btw, welcome to the board. Have fun. It doesn't have to be all done at once. You can add as the budget allows and as you see what you need.

Good luck.


Friends divide our sorrows and multiply our joys.
Posts: 6173 | Registered: Sep 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow, was thinking the exact same thing earlier when I initially read the OP's post, Strings: fabric is your new best friend.

You might consider fabric panels to cover the panelling. Was thinking curtains, also - if you're on a budget, remnants might be a fun option.

WRT the kitchen, I suggest enclosing it with a rolling counter for add'l storage, a work area and the possibility of placing bar stools on one side to form an eating area, too. It could be placed to form an L-shape on the open side of the tile, against the wall and next to the fridge. Or, you might need to leave a walkway to the fridge and place it free-standing against the tile to form an island. Ikea probably has a stainless steel, industrial-looking option.

Can a removable counter be placed anywhere on the back wall? Butcher block is inexpensive and available at either Ikea or a home center. They'd cut it for you. A shelving unit on the side wall (other side of the shower) might also help and work with your L. You can always check CL for used items, too.

You're absolutely right to pass on painting the panelling, if they'd require you to restore is when you leave, IMHO.

Good Luck!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: AguaBella,
Posts: 449 | Registered: Dec 15, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here's an idea: don't beat 'em; join 'em. Or, to coin another cliche, dance with the one that brung ya.

Work with the wood paneling to create a modern retro vibe in your studio. First, wash the paneling and polish it if it is real wood. The gleaming wood will help reflect what little light you have. Speaking of light, adding inexpensive hanging fixtures like rice paper lanterns or IKEA pendants will help lighten the mood and dispel the murkiness. Cheap chic.

The key to smart, stylish modern decor on a budget is simplicity. IKEA has great, clean lined furniture for a song. They have a Parson's style table that can do triple duty as a desk, dining table or console. Think Scandinavian modern with the wood paneling and you're half way there.

One or two freestanding book cases can create a privacy wall for your sleeping area. Decorate with lots of found objects (Sunday artist paintings from flea markets or your own) and forage for big branches you can display in tall glass vessels.

Add bold patterned textiles, like Marimekko prints, as throws or framed on walls.

We've all been there. Back in the early 70s, when I was a starving post-grad in NYC with not a dime to my name and a student loan, I lived in a hovel of a studio with my sister and we managed to decorate by picking up free stuff on the streets and saving our pennies for one two pieces of double-duty furniture and artwork. Made a big difference.

Best of luck! Have fun.
Posts: 5163 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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How about a sofa that makes into a bed? End tables with drawers for your clothes...lamps on top. Rolling kitchen cart for counter space and storage. Coffee table that raises up for eating. TV console with drawers for "stuff" and clothes. If you use the sofa to sleep on, you would not need a separation but if you do, the bookcase would be a good divider. Clean the paneling and make it shine.....good idea. Mirror on wall to reflect the light. etc.

love life
Posts: 1422 | Location: omaha, ne U.S.A. | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Have you considered apply a light colored fabric with starch. It is removable. It would give more of a painted panelling effect if that would work for you.

Another thought would be the oversized art they are selling right now. A piece or 2 in your colors would cover some of the wood.
Posts: 208 | Registered: Apr 19, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think every space looks better with a large quilt hanging on the wall. It's a fast fix and an easy way to get the focus off the paneling (which I've been cursed with a few times).

I don't know how practical it is to cover the walls with fabric, the price has increased so much recently you might be better off to buy bookcases or something.
Posts: 3540 | Location: Ohio | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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to add to the starch and fabric..wha you do is buy inexpensive fabric or sheets (remembe if you do sheets you'll have hems to deal with but MUCH cheaper! than yardage..whe we say starch you buy it in the gallon jug (check around) dip the fabric in and saturate it the bigger the panels the more hads you'll carefully over the paneling... smooth and let dry...won't harm the wood and your landloard is trying to "get" you, good! once that wood is painted, it's painted!
Posts: 8479 | Location: se mi | Registered: Sep 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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tried ot find christopher lowell studio design..but no luck...he started with a platform bed (much needed storage under)it was covered with a solid spread tucked the head of the bed was a bookcase floor to ceiling, as a divider for a "lr" space...he added a table and 2 comfortable chairs...the table doubled for dining...wish i could remember how he treated the kitchen space...but quite clever with ikea type finds...the reason he chose the bed up front was the little view and natural light seemed best for the lr space..this show was way back in the early 2000-2003, but everything could be perfect for today...
Posts: 8479 | Location: se mi | Registered: Sep 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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