3 ways to sabotage a mixed-use room

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Call it swingshift design.

A year ago, says Manhattan interior designer Jeannine Williams, most of her business came from clients trading up into a new, larger co-op or condo.  Lately, though, they're staying put, and hiring her to get more out of what they’ve got.

“Sometimes it’s the addition of another child and they need to make a bedroom work for two kids,” says Williams.  Also, more people are working from home and need to make the dining room or living room do double duty as an office.

She identified the three most common mistakes made by DIY-ers:

1. Thinking too short-term about kids’ rooms

“You need to look at least 5-10 years ahead to see what the purchases are,” says Williams, who is co-sponsoring a free seminar on the subject Wednesday night at the popular UES kid’s furniture shop, Kid's Supply

"You need to make the room function as they're changing and growing so you're not committing to something that's outgrown too quickly."

2. Buying ready-made furniture

When it comes to bookcases and desks, says Williams, custom often works best and is well worth the extra 15-20 percent cost.  For example, for a home office, she recommends floor-to-ceiling built-ins with open shelves on the top for books and family photos, and cabinets on the bottom for storage and files.

3. Putting too much in one room  

“People often try to stack too much furniture in a small space as opposed to trying to eliminate pieces that are not necessary,” says Williams.  "When you have a mixed use room, you have to be very disciplined about what you put in it so it doesn’t look overcluttered.”