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    It’s no surprise that Christine Brun comes from a long line of musicians, architects and designers. Her creative eye can look at the direst of interior design dilemmas and come up with a solution. And that’s what she does on a weekly basis in her "Small Spaces" column.
    Whether it’s a college dormitory room, newlyweds’ first cramped apartment or a tiny jewel box filled with a retiree’s treasures, Brun can find a way to paint, paper, arrange furniture, build in shelves, and expand kitchen and bathroom space to show the small home to its best advantage.
    Brun’s new book, "Smart Ideas for Small Spaces," will be available in November.

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Little bathroom cabinets make space for big luxuries

By Christine Brun

Copley News Service

When one of my designer friends, Regina Kurtz, set out to remodel her own bathroom, one of her biggest requirements was a place for a television set. Like many other busy professionals who work long hours, watching the morning news while dressing is about the only way she can keep up on current events.

Small080200.gif (143411 bytes)While her bathroom is fairly large, the solution she designed for a small corner would also work for anyone whose bathroom is tiny. In a narrow stretch of wall, about 27 inches total, Kurtz designed a linen closet, dirty clothes hamper and a home for her little TV set. This is a custom-designed cabinet that matches the others in the larger room.

She adorned the face of the cupboard (which is lined with low-pressure laminate) with Japanese ash veneer in a handsome diamond pattern. A brushed stainless-steel reveal separates each drawer and cabinet door, and handsome brushed-stainless hardware is fastened right in the center of each door or drawer.

There are several advantages to using a laminate like Melamine or Kortron (the low-pressure type) or a high-pressure laminate manufactured by such industry giants as Nevamar, Wilson Art or Lamin Art for the interior of all cupboards. Such materials combine with wood faces to blend into a much stronger cabinet than a 100 percent wood product. There is no chance of warping, and the insides of shelves and drawers can be easily wiped down with a damp cloth. The upper section hides a storage shelf.

In a 17-inch by 12-inch opening just below the cupboard, the designer deftly squeezes in a little TV set. The linens for the bathroom are folded on two shelves in the compartment immediately below the television is a hamper drawer.

For those in rented quarters or who for whatever reason don't want to invest in permanent fixtures, a temporary solution exists. By positioning a shallow storage unit on a small piece of wall, you will achieve the same function.

Readers often contact me to learn where to find such perfectly sized items. One easy way is to get on a number of catalog mailing lists. Some of my favorites are IKEA, Pottery Barn and The Container Store.

For example, in the current IKEA catalog you can find Bonde cabinets available in a wide variety of configurations that are all just 15 3/4 inches deep. To take full advantage of the vertical height available to you for storage, seek out the taller units, such as bookcases that come 85 7/8 inches tall by 28 3/8 inches wide in white for $220 each or in birch wood veneer for $200 each.

Separate solid or framed-glass insert doors are available for the bookcase units. Small doors sell for $30 in white and $40 in veneer; for high-shelf units the doors run $40 and $50 each for solid material and $60 and $70 each for framed glass doors. You could construct a tiny storage unit 19 5/8 inches wide with six shelves, an open shelf for a television and two doors for less than $300.

If you don't mind towels exposed to the dust of the bathroom and have just a little wider wall, try a much more economical IKEA solution in the Ivar basic unit of the larger wall system. One section is 35 inches wide, only 11 7/8 inches deep by 70 1/2 inches tall and sells for $59. It's made of unfinished solid pine that's sanded smooth so you can paint it, stain it, seal it or leave it natural.

For even more confined space and budgets, look at the Sigge bookcase in solid spruce. It's 16 1/2 inches wide, 13 3/8 inches deep and 68 7/8 inches high for merely $39.95.

For more finish selections, investigate the Pax wardrobe system. You can choose from two widths (19 5/8 inches or 39 1/4 inches), four finishes (white, beech, birch or pine), nine door styles and eight interior fittings to customize your cabinet.

These come with adjustable feet and precision durable European style hinges. Purchase knobs and handles separately, but a birch unit about 20 inches wide with four shelves and a mirror door can be yours for $200. Store linens, toiletries and the TV set in your bathroom with a custom-designed solution or with an "off-the-shelf" answer.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer. Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at cbaintdes(at) or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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