from SF Downtown magazine - 05/01
URBAN HABITAT: Room to Breathe-Clean Designs and clutter-free living ...Elizabeth Roberts of Elizabeth Roberts Design feels that a "well-designed small space can be a jewel in a way that larger spaces cannot" and suggests accentuating one thing that is "grand," be it a large window, long hallway or hardwood floors. She favors a quote by author Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "You know when you've achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away," and when she applies this philosophy to her designs the result is elegant minimalism. Roberts first meets with her clients on site to get a feel for their individual needs. She then works on creating a "clear path of travel," preferring designs in which rooms flow into each other. In small spaces this is especially important, she says. "If you can create a clear and unobstructed view to a window or at best, through the length of the entire space, this helps." If this is simply impossible, focus on the area that people see first. "Creating a clear and clean entry vestibule by clearing the doorway of unnecessary objects and providing a place to put one's coat and catch one's breath is the best way to enter into a small space." A problem that many of us here in San Francisco encounter -especially those with roommates -is that one room must serve several functions. Elizabeth likes using movable walls to create a flexible layout in which certain areas can be partitioned off or left open. She suggests converting shelving units (as long as they're not too top-heavy) by screwing industrial casters into the bottom, creating wheelable walls complete with storage space. In one project she fashioned a more permanent divider, which the landlord couldn't object to, by applying painted sheet rock to the back of a tall shelving unit. Area rugs are also useful -a rug under the coffee table and couch visually separates that area from the rest of the room.