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The First Apartment Book: Cool Designs for Small Spaces

After reading Aaron Britt’s interview with Kyle Schuneman on masculine design for our June Interior Design issue (on newsstands now), we were excited to see what the rest of his book, The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces (Clarkson Potter, 2012), was all about. Although it won’t hit shelves until August, Schuneman sent over a copy so we could get a sneak peek.

Kitchen designed by Kyle Schuneman
This kitchen manages to look playful and edgy with chalkboard paint: the matte black is crisp, but the scribbles add whimsy. Reprinted from The First Apartment Book by Kyle Schuneman. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

Citing design blog The Selby as one of his inspirations, Schuneman says he wrote this book to, “tell people in their 20s and 30s that this is a time in your life to celebrate. This is your first space—maybe it’s tiny and you have a small budget, or maybe you have landlord issues and roommate problems—it’s yours and you should treat it that way.” 

This top floor loft space in Atlanta has uneven ceilings and no walls, so Schuneman sectioned off a nook for her bed using a tall bookcase. Reprinted from The First Apartment Book by Kyle Schuneman. Copyright © 2012.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a divis
This top floor loft space in Atlanta has uneven ceilings and no walls, so Schuneman sectioned off a nook for her bed using a tall bookcase. Reprinted from The First Apartment Book by Kyle Schuneman. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
Divided into ten sections centering on ten different apartments, Schuneman focuses on some common decorating styles like “The Prep,” “The Collector,” and the “The Bohemian.” Schuneman even includes his own abode in the book, labeled as “The Homebody.” Each featured apartment belongs to friends or acquaintances of Schuneman, which allows him to explain the lifestyles behind his design choices. Overall, Schuneman starts his designs “function first” to guide him creatively and to make a space as livable as possible. For example, in one apartment Schuneman chose furniture with metal legs because of the renter’s pet’s penchant for chewing.

Sprinkled throughout are how-tos and common decorating DIY projects for each apartment. Although from personal experience, one of his projects, “No-Sew pillows,” easily falls apart, Schuneman is tuned into common renter dilemmas and practical quick fixes. Some of our favorite projects were: painted chevron walls, creating a “chandelier” out of CB2 glass bubbles, and carving out a cozy bed nook in an awkward loft space.

The jute rug and industrial coffee table in this living were chosen not only as design elements, but as sensible solutions to the owner's dog. Natural fiber rugs are not very absorbent, which gives you more time to clean up accidents.  Reprinted from The
The jute rug and industrial coffee table in this living were chosen not only as design elements, but as sensible solutions to the owner's dog. Natural fiber rugs are not very absorbent, which gives you more time to clean up accidents. Reprinted from The First Apartment Book by Kyle Schuneman. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
With suggestions such as how to add color without paint, work under a tight budget, and make a bedroom set of random pieces look cohesive, the book is a useful resource guide. We were especially impressed with the size of the apartments: they are all less than 1,000 square feet, including Schuneman’s own. Plus, his upbeat attitude makes it hard to resist overhauling your own place. As Schuneman says, “Design is so much more than pretty things. If you take the time to make your space livable, interact with it, and make it a reflection of yourself, your space will create high expectations for you.”

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