As occupants of small spaces, where a few square feet can mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars in rent and, let’s be honest, our sanity; New Yorkers know that a second bedroom is a blessing unlike any other.

James Ramsey, of the New York design firm RAAD, tells us that there are several basic requirements to qualify a room as a true second bedroom, “The first is adequate light and air;” meaning that the space requires a window. “And [second] there’s a minimum dimension of eight feet that you need for the width of your bedroom.”

Legal definitions aside, let’s assume that the extra room in your apartment that isn’t a bathroom (no toilet), a kitchen (no sink), or a hall closet (no umbrella stand), is, in fact, a true second bedroom. The challenges of maximizing the usefulness of this tiny treasure may surprise you; but, hey, that’s why we’re here and not James Ramsey.


The Dream of the Walk-In Closet

Using 2nd Bedroom as a ClosetWe’ve all had this dream. You know, the one where you’re in your apartment and all of a sudden you discover a secret door, inside of which is another room that you never knew existed. It’s a good dream. If you’re one of the lucky few for whom this dream is a reality, you’ll recognize the following pattern as true:

It all begins so innocently, first, you toss your jacket on an unpacked cardboard box in the corner of the otherwise empty room; then you do the same with the outfit you wore to the party that ended late, very late; next, you throw in the two outfits that you tried on for work but that didn’t make the cut; last, you pitch in the entire bag of clean laundry that you didn’t bother to unpack, shutting the door behind you.

The Dream of the Walk-In Closet is now a very messy and disorganized reality.

The Two Bedroom Bat Signal

We’ve all been to cocktail parties where the conversation inevitably wanders from the spiciness of the satay to the spaciousness of the party host’s apartment. Ogling ceiling height, stealing glances inside of closets, and mentally measuring distances from wall to wall quickly leads to everyone sharing where they live and what size of apartment they call home. This banter comes more naturally to New Yorkers than breathing, or hailing cabs.

What happens next is critical. You, being the honest person that you are, share that you are one of the second-bedroom-blessed. Suddenly, it’s as if the bat signal has lit up the sky, signaling to all couch surfers, friends going through break-ups, and cousins coming to the Big Apple to check out colleges that your second bedroom is open for business. Once you admit to having a second bedroom, you can’t take it back.

If it feels like everyone at the party is looking at you differently. It’s because they are.


The Best of Both

closet - 2nd bedroom in nycWith the help of Manhattan Mini Storage, your not-so-secret messy walk-in closet/second bedroom can become both an organized storage space for your clothes and a welcoming bedroom for house guests. In previous blog posts we’ve discussed the benefits of clothing storage and of creatively defining your living space. Those same principles apply here:

  • Start by organizing your items: Keep items you wear and use regularly in your apartment, and store everything else at your local Manhattan Mini Storage. You can utilize our shelves and rolling racks to keep your delicate items safe and your precious clothing wrinkle-free so it’s ready to wear when you’re ready to wear it!
  • Divide the second bedroom in half. Install a free-standing shelving unit on one side of the space, leaving the opposite side of the room free for an inflatable air mattress (check out Frontgate Inflatable Guest Beds.
  • Use the free-standing shelving as if it were a display shelf in a clothing store. Fold and feature the clothing you wear frequently (the rest is, of course, safely stored at Manhattan Mini Storage). Be diligent about keeping these shelves organized – your t-shirts, sweaters, and pants should be folded similarly and facing the same direction (try the Pliio Clothing Filer™ to make it easy). You can also use the shelving for linen and towel storage.
  • When not hosting guests, the inflatable mattress (depending on the version you have) can remain deflated and folded into its own carrying case. Some of the styles and sizes of inflatable beds even have room enough in their carrying cases for guest linens. This will leave you plenty of space for a chair to sit on while trying-on clothes, a full-length mirror, and a laundry basket – all of which can be pushed to the side to accommodate the bed once it’s inflated.


To Host or Not to Host

space in nycYou now have a walk-in closet that can easily transform into a guest room, should the need arise. Determining who gets to use that guest room is far less important that how they use it. These steps should help:

  • You should always be clear about what a guest can expect when staying in your second bedroom. For example, guests should know that the space is small, the bed is smaller, and the room is also your very well-organized closet. Anyone worth your hospitality will know how lucky they are to not only have a bed on which to crash, but a bedroom in which to stay. All others should feel free to visit
  • Determine arrival and departure times well in advance of your guest’s arrival. The “weekend” can be a very ambiguous term for a guest with nowhere else to be.
  • Make the bed before the guest arrives and don’t make it again. A good guest will know to leave their room exactly as they found it every time they leave it. If they don’t, and it bothers you, then don’t invite them to stay with you again. The same can, and should, be said for food in the fridge. A good guest will replace what they consume. If they don’t, then they’ve become your friends that stay at The Marriott.

These suggestions may all sound very strict, but boundaries are essential in making sure that everyone’s expectations are met and no one feels as if they’ve been taken for granted. Here’s a great interview explaining the importance of boundaries with Darlene Dennis the author of Host or Hostage: A Guide for Surviving House Guests.

Remember, most of your friends and family want to be good guests and hosting them is a wonderful gift that you and your second bedroom can afford to give. Opening up your second bedroom can also be great for bringing a sense of energy and warmth into a home. You never know, you may just get hooked on your own hospitality.

And of course, the walk-in closet doesn’t hurt one bit.

Ready to welcome some new space into your NYC apartment? De-clutter that second bedroom and get some of your stuff into the perfect storage space at one of our 17 mini storage locations in NYC!