From cramped and cluttered bedroom to relaxing retreat

01 June 2015

Stylist Aiko Ito helped Fumie and Paul turn their jumbled Tokyo bedroom into a small-space sanctuary for two. ‘In small bedrooms, think about how you can make space, de-clutter and re-organise,’ she says.

View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos. View of double bed, lamps, textiles, with RIBBA picture ledges creating display of family photos.

Show more, fit more

Paul and Fumie wanted to display their family photos and keepsakes. Picture ledges provide a big-impact, space-saving display area.

‘We couldn’t expand our space, but we could find new ways to create more room’

Paul & Fumie, homeowners

Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy. Fumie and Paul sitting on their bed in their new bedroom looking happy.

Combine space-saving lighting Wall and ceiling lamps keep the bedside tables free while adding functionality and cosiness.  

Create the illusion of space Mirrors reflect light and make a room feel more airy.

Eleven years ago Fumie and Paul downsized from a 372m2 house outside Washington DC to 52m2 living quarters in Tokyo. The new small space was a challenge – before long they were storing their stuff in stacks of plastic boxes and suitcases. But with the help of Aiko, they de-cluttered their belongings and turned their traditional room into a more comfortable space. We went to see the results, which Fumie and Paul told us did more than change their room, it changed them: ‘The whole space feels re-energised. And so do we!’

Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito Stylist Aiko Ito

Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover. Fumie in her cluttered bedroom before the makeover.

Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover. Hand drawn stylist sketch of the small space bedroom makeover.

Aiko’s small-room philosophy: pare back your belongings

‘No matter how many storage solutions you have, if there’s too much stuff for the space it will always feel crowded,’ says Aiko. ‘Taking everything out of the room so you can see it all makes it easier to assess and sort, so you only re-introduce things once you know how and where they’ll be stored.’ 

View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover. View of well organised ALGOT wardrobe system in Fumie’s bedroom makeover.

Make access simple Storage on castors can be rolled out for easy sorting. ALGOT storage combination.

‘A well-organised bedroom makes everyday routines like getting dressed more streamlined and creates a calm, restful atmosphere.’

Aiko Ito, stylist

Designate a place for everything

‘Think about how you use the room and what you want where. In Fumie and Paul’s room, we separated clothes into current season, past season and upcoming season – a rotation system for clothes saves a lot of time when it comes to looking for them. Labelling everything is helpful for both sorting and storing.’  

Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe. Fumie and Paul help tidy away stuff into their wardrobe.

Divide storage with interior organisation

‘Often we have to store lots of different types of things in one wardrobe or chest of drawers. Interior organisation helps maximise your existing storage space as well as “zone” it. I love the hanging storage that creates shelves in a hanging space and even has extra pockets on the side. Keep what you need most often in plain sight.’ 

Maximise storage space

‘Hard-working products are key to making a small room more comfortable and spacious. In Fumie and Paul’s room, the bed with built-in storage was key. In Japan, it’s traditional to strip the bed every day – storing bedding in the drawers underneath freed up valuable wardrobe space.’

Bring ‘dead’ space to life

‘Look for ways to add storage above and below furniture, or in awkward corners. Nothing is off-limits! Shelving high up on the wall is great for items you don’t need all the time.’

View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels. View of tiny desk space with chair on wheels.

Choose moveable furniture Fumie’s desk chair on wheels can be moved easily when she needs access to the wardrobe.

Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves. Matching colours and patterns look well organised on open shelves.

Co-ordinate small storage For boxes and magazine files, matching colours, patterns and materials are visually calming and look well-organised.   

‘With a few well-chosen solutions and a little discipline, you can transform the sense of space in a small bedroom‘

Aiko Ito, stylist