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A Tiny Maid's Room Gets a Makeover

Solve Function First 

To some, the thought of a maid’s room in New York City conjures images of claustrophobic cells. But with bright pops of color, ample light, and a custom, space-saving furniture ensemble, this 7x12’ bedroom sheds that old convention, functioning instead as a creative retreat for a pre-teen artist to grow into her own.

Kali Board Wall Bed

For New York-based designer Clare Donohue of 121 Studio, making the most of small city spaces comes down to one, hard-and-fast rule: “Solve function first, then style the space to the client’s personality.” But to makeover a tiny, 7×12’ maid’s room that could last one client’s daughter all the way through her teenage years (and beyond), it would take some serious long-term planning.

“They wanted a room that would get her through college, but could function later as a home office or guest room when she moves out,” Clare said.

That meant color and furniture selections would need to stay neutral enough to last through lots of changing uses and aesthetic iterations — but be bold enough to satisfy their daughter’s creative side.

Solution: Transforming Furniture

Besides the usual teen bedroom requirements — extra space to sleep, do homework, and hang out with friends — the room would also need ample desk space for the client’s daughter — an artist and budding modernist, to draw and paint. She was also in desperate need of extra storage to hold her impressive stock of art supplies. And because the space was originally designed as a maid’s room, it was broken up by three doors and a window, leaving very little wall space to display her artwork.

“Space was our biggest issue,” Clare explained. “The room is only 84-square-feet and it was exploding with stuff and furniture. It had almost zero free floor space, and it still was not meeting their storage and desk needs.”

Clare knew that she could check off most of the boxes on her client’s wish list by incorporating transforming furniture (in fact, it was the only way to meet all of their needs in such little square footage) but custom-built options were far too costly and involved. Instead, she strongly advised the family to try out a multi-functional Kali Board wall bed with an integrated, 7-foot long desk from Resource Furniture.

Kali Board Wall Bed
Kali Board Wall Bed

A Visit to the Resource Furniture Showroom

"At the very first meeting, I told my clients: Seriously, this is the only way to solve this.They needed a piece of double-duty furniture… and there was no way to get something custom at the price point Resource could supply,” Clare recalls. “We took the entire family to the showroom to try out the bed and pick colors.”

The client opted for all-white walls and storage cabinets, but playful pops of color are dispersed all throughout. Open up the white Kali Wall Bed cabinet, for instance, and be greeted by a delightful green headboard and deep blue interior back panel.

White, modular wall cabinets surround the Kali wall bed, punctuated with bright yellow open cubbies. The custom storage system, also from Resource, lays flush with the wall bed cabinet for a seamless, built-look. This way, clothing and art supplies are all neatly housed, while wall space is freed to display art.

Kali Board Wall Bed

All White with Pops of Vivid Color

But perhaps the pièce de résistance of the space is the watercolor wallpaper applied to the ceiling. Bright splashes of color add tremendous character to a very tiny room, all without overwhelming the space.

“For this project, every item was chosen with the two goals of beauty and function in mind,” Clare said. Functional, graphic décor is everywhere: take the “Hello” wall hook, stacking stool set, or stain-resistant carpet tiles.

Tiny Maid's Room Get's a Makeover with Transforming Furniture

But the room’s long-term purpose was always kept in mind. “Literally, with a simple change of wallpaper and accessories, this becomes a grownup room.

See more of Clare Donohue’s stunning work at, and follow @121studio_interiors on Instagram to keep up with her latest projects.