Tag Archives: small space living

Making Your Dorm Room Into Something Amazing

If you’re moving into a dorm room this fall, you may want an amazing space that lets you study and entertain in style while showing off your chic sense of décor. Unfortunately, if you are like most students you have been issued the standard, impersonal shoebox of a room and you may have a budget that makes it hard to splurge on terrific pieces. Even so, there’s hope if you want to make your dorm into something special.


Take care of the floor

Dorm room floors are often unattractive and may be poorly maintained. Use carpet remnants from a carpet depot or rug store or even a few inexpensive rugs to brighten the space and to make your dorm room floor something you don’t mind walking on. Just make sure you don’t make it hard to open your door – you need the ventilation under your door to prevent condensation and mildew.


Layer and don’t worry too much about matching everything up

Lots of layers of color and texture add some interest and personality to your room. Pile on bed linens, curtains, and even fabrics on walls and ceilings. Just don’t worry about matching everything up – just keep colors complimentary and contrasting. If you don’t have the money to match everything up, creating a more funky mismatched look is the next best option – and it will keep things fresh and unique.

Upcycle items rather than buying new

Your parents and friends may be willing to donate furniture and décor items which you can re-do with new upholstery, paint, and a little imagination. Scour local second-hand shops and garage sales for furniture and other items you need. If you have inherited some ugly pieces and need a little inspiration or how-to help, check out this Pinterest page for ideas and step-by-step instructions.


Come up with ways to stow your stuff

One of the big challenges with dorm life is that there is very little storage space. You will need to create some of your own. Here are a few ideas about ways to find some extra space when you live in a shoebox:

  • Put your bed on risers and use the extra space under your bed to store boxes and linens. Use a bed skirt to hide the items under there.
  • Check with your campus housing association to find out whether you can adhere things to the walls. If so, hanging shelves and racks can be a great way to make the most of your wall space.
  • Buy a storage ottoman for sitting and for storing small items.
  • Buy furniture that does double duty. A comfy chair that is also a pull-out bed for guests can be a great option. Clear off the top of a dresser to use as a vanity. Make your furniture work for the space.

For more unique storage tips, check out this handy article.


Invest in more lighting

Dorm room lighting is usually very basic – inexpensive, functional, and usually not enough for late nights of studying. You will need some lamps and extra lights for gentle light in the evenings and when entertaining. Inexpensive strings of lights or novelty lights are a good option. This article has some good tips. In addition, be sure to invest in a good floor lamp or task lamp so that you can read and work at your desk or in your bed without getting eye strain.


College textbooks are expensive – and so is college life. Good thing you don’t have to spend a fortune or take out extra loans to live in college style. If you’re still not sure where to start, check out this blog to take a look at some dorm makeovers.


What To Do if you Hate Your Apartment

It happens more than you think. A sudden move, a small budget, or lack of research can all mean that you end up with an apartment you don’t love. Whether the place is small, in bad shape, or badly lit, an unattractive apartment is a drain . It’s hard to feel great when you loathe where you live. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to transform your less-than-perfect apartment into something that you’ll love:

1) Figure out what you hate.

Avoid comparing your apartment to others. Just try to make an objective list of things you don’t like. Does it feel cramped? Do you not have enough room for clothes? Is it dark or in bad shape? Does it have a cold, impersonal feel? Rather than fuming, get specific. Number your list, from the things that bug you the most to minor annoyances.


2) Find out what you can change.

Most landlords are happy when you make an apartment look great, since it makes it easier to rent out the space again when you leave. However, you don’t want to lose your damage deposit, so be sure to ask before you open a can of paint or re-tile the kitchen floor. That said, there are lots of things you can do to make-over your space on a small budget.

3) Find apartment-friendly fixes.

You don’t need a huge budget or tons of know-how to transform an apartment into something beautiful. The most common problems include:

  • Tiny spaces. If you live in a very small space, there is a two-prong solution you need to follow: prune out what you no longer need and find creative ways to stow what you do have. Start by getting rid of as much as you can. You’ll find that much of what you have you don’t really need anyway, and you probably own a lot of stuff you don’t even especially like. Once you’ve pared down, find new ways to store things. You can use hooks inside doors, for example, to keep things organized, or furniture that folds away or acts as a storage space. For some creative small-space hacks, check out this Complex Magazine post.3083545403_1b2d683019
  • Poorly-maintained apartments. If your apartment is not in good shape, you may want to speak with your landlord about it. For major repairs (such as problems with the plumbing or the wiring) you will need to persist until the landlord agrees to an upgrade. If he or she refuses, there are legal avenues that you can explore. For less dire repairs, such as painting, you may be able to get permission from management to fix that on your own.
  • Inconvenient kitchens. If your kitchen does not have enough space, consider a breakfast or bar stool rather than a small dining table – you’ll save room. If counter space is at a premium, buy a kitchen cart, which will give you an additional chopping surface as well as storage space. If you are low on cupboard space, consider hanging shelves outside of cupboards as well as dividers within your cupboards. Both will allow you to store more things. For more small kitchen ideas, visit this BuzzFeed post.
  • Lack of storage space. Some studio apartments have only one small closet as storage space. One solution is to get a storage unit nearby for extra items. Shelving and drawers are another good solution – especially if you can get taller units that take advantage of the space near the ceiling, which is wasted in most apartments. This Pinterest user has additional storage ideas for small spaces.
  • Dim, cramped apartment. The solution here is a few extra lamps, lighter colors, and reflective surfaces. The three used together will create a larger-looking, brighter space.

4) Focus on the positive.

If your apartment is noisy and near a train station, it may be in an older building full of character. If your space is tiny, it may be close to everything in a major city where people long to live. Even if your apartment is not your dream home, there are probably things you can play up. If you have a nice living room space, you can set it off with great furniture. If you have a nice view or nice windows, you can play that up with bright curtains and a window box of plants.


5) Inspire yourself with apartment makeovers.

There’s a reason that makeover and home renovation shows are such a big hit – everyone loves to see a space transformed into something gorgeous. More to the point, if you hate your apartment or home but can’t move, these transformations can tickle your muse and inspire your own apartment makeover. Must-see transformations include this Huffington Post makeover and this Nate Berkus tiny studio transformation.

When you hate where you live, entertaining may take a wayside. When you focus on improving what doesn’t work and highlighting any nice features of your apartment, you’ll wind up with an apartment you are proud to show off.

Making a Small Bathroom Work

Are you tired of a crowded bathroom first thing in the morning? Can’t relax because your bathroom is outdated and feels about as relaxing (and as roomy) as a broom closet? No problem. These tips can help you transform a tiny room into a larger (or larger-looking) space:

1) Step back and get some perspective.

When faced with a tiny bathroom, one of the most common reactions is to bemoan the lack of space and to look with envy at those apartment-sized bathrooms in magazines – the types of spas that can fit a sound system, four-person hot tub and fireplace. That sort of thinking will not get you closer to your ideal bathroom. Instead, get some inspiration by taking a look at some truly miniscule bathrooms that pack in lots of style. Houzz has some great inspiration here and here. Some wet bathrooms are only 3 feet by 3 feet – the bathroom itself is also the entire shower stall. Yet, some interior designers are able to transform these tiny rooms into stylish bathrooms. You probably have more room than you realize.


2) Rethink your bath.

Many homes with small bathrooms have a shower/tub combo. If you mostly take showers, though, you will get a lot more mileage out of your space if you get rid of the tub entirely and install just a shower. You can enjoy a better-quality shower, too, including a shower with steam or other special features, if you choose to invest in just a shower. To create the illusion of even more space, consider clear glass shower doors and enclosure – being able to see through to the walls will mean a much larger-looking bathroom. If you must have a bath, opt for a claw-foot tub. Not only are they more comfortable (and usually taller) than traditional small tubs, but they often take up less floor space and allow you to see the tiles under the tub, which is another optical illusion that can make your bathroom seem larger.


3) Rely on light.

A small bathroom is one thing; a small, dark and dingy bathroom, though, will never look cute. Paint your bathroom in pale colors or in white and use mirrors as well as bright lights to open up the space. Choose large floor tiles in pale colors to create the feel of a bigger space. If you can, increase the size of the window or install skylights to open up the space more.

4) Balance the smaller space with luxury touches.

One of the risks with a tiny bathroom is that it can seem cheap and dingy. The good news? Smaller spaces means that furnishing your space with spa-like details can be less expensive. Even adding marble can be less costly than you think, thanks to the fact that you won’t need very much of it. Consider adding touches such as heated towel racks, marble finishes, beautiful mirrors, gorgeous lighting, and top-of-the-line fixtures and showers to create a spa haven.


5) Choose a tall pedestal sink rather than a vanity.

If you need space for towels and other bathroom things, consider an armoire just outside the bathroom or a cabinet above the sink. Using the wall space for storage rather than the floor space will ensure you can get ready in the mornings without bumping into everything. Another option is a console sink, which gives you some storage underneath but still doesn’t take up much room. If you must have a vanity, opt for a floating vanity, which will make more room for your feet. If you have a truly tiny space, consider a small wall-mounted sink with shallow fixtures, which will take up the least space. To get some inspiration for great sink ideas, check out the Homedit post here.


6) Draw the eye upward.

Use a tall pedestal sink, attractive walls and lighting fixtures and tall mirrors or windows to draw the eye upwards and to create the feeling of more space. Long, thin lines will keep the room from feeling cramped.

7) Keep things simple.

A monochrome palette and simple patterns and designs work best, since too many patterns and designs make the space look too busy and smaller. That said, it is important to avoid a clinical look. You’ll want to add some interest, but keep it simple with one focal piece. You may want to add a beautiful shower curtain, for example, or a stylish mirror frame for your mirror. One or two touches like this don’t take up room but add your own unique style to your bathroom. If you need a little inspiration on how to make your bathroom stand out, check out this Creativefan post.


8) Get clever about storage space.

Keep the items you need for your shower in the shower – use a streamlined shelving system or a shower basket. Use hooks for towels or towel racks that hang up high and draw the eye up. Keep a few extra towels rolled on a shelf. Ultimately, though, if you have a very small bathroom, there will be only so much you can keep in it. Remove the majority of your toiletries to another room (makeup can spoil in the humid and warm conditions of a bathroom, anyway). Keep extra toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and most of your extra towels elsewhere, too. When reviewing what to keep, consider what your morning and evening routine is – just keep what you need for those routines and nothing else.


Small bathrooms don’t have to mean boring style choices and bruised shins in the mornings. With a little inspiration and some work, you can create a chic spa-like room.

How People Around the World Make Tiny Homes Work

While 1000-square foot apartments and condos may be typical in North America, in many parts of the world people live in tiny homes. Sometimes, very high real estate prices make it a necessity. In a growing number of cases, though, people are moving to smaller homes because they want to simplify their life or because they want to reduce their carbon footprint. There is now a movement of people who are dedicated to drastically reducing the amount of space their homes take up. And these are not the starving artist garrets of years past. Today’s miniscule homes are often full of style and character.

Whether you live in small space because of your budget or because you are Eco-conscious, there are several ways that you can ensure that your minute house or apartment is comfortable as well as cute:

1) Change the way you think about small space living

Kirsten Dirksen used to live the typical North American lifestyle before she decided to give it up and move into a smaller space. She has even created a must-see documentary about small spaces around the world, called Tiny House People. You can view the film here. The one common thread amongst people in the doc? They don’t see tiny flats and minuscule cottages as a punishment; they see it as a great way to live.


2) Get some inspiration

Think your 400-square foot apartment is too tiny for style? Check out the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company here. You’ll see how others create beautiful spaces from houses that are around 100 square feet (or less!). Be sure to check out the Gizmodo website here to see more inspiring tiny homes.


3) Focus on what you really want in your life

Many people focus on gathering more things, but if you live in a studio apartment, cottage or another small home, you will need to stick with the basics. That means getting rid of anything you don’t need and focusing on just a few key spaces – a seating area, a bathroom area, a kitchen area, and a bedroom area. Even in a studio apartment, you will need to create separate areas for sitting and sleeping. To get some inspiration, check out the Japanese Microhouse, the Barcelona WonderSpace, and the Hong Kong apartment at the FW here.


4) Get smaller-scale furniture

Furniture that is sleek and simple is a must if you live in a tiny house. Another important feature is to look for pieces that function as more more than one thing. A seating area can be a dining area and can be a storage space as well if the “table” is a flat-topped trunk. To get some inspiration for small space living, check out the Mother Nature Network here.

5) Consider the benefits of downsizing

Small houses and apartments mean smaller bills, less waste, less time spent cleaning, and other benefits. Make up a list of positive changes you can expect from moving to a small space. If it still feels like you are giving something up, check out the inspiring homes at Design Boom here or at Huffington Post here. It may take a little more creativity, but small space living can mean more money for other things and just as much style as a larger space. In fact, you may be able to afford nicer décor and furniture if you stick with more modest spaces, thanks to the money you will save.


Tiny homes often are described as “adorable” and “cute,” but many can also be accurately described as gorgeous and stylish. With a little inspiration from those who have already made the switch, it is possible to set up a stunning small space just about anywhere, from a tiny cottage to a micro apartment.

Finding Extra Room in a Rental

Students and big city dwellers know the drill: affordable apartments are not exactly synonymous with huge spaces. We’ve all lived in tiny spaces at one point in our lives. When you live in a tiny house, at least, you have some options: you can knock out walls, change things around and even build an addition. Not so with a rental. Even if you are renting (for now), there are ways to make the most of your space:

1) Keep only what you need and love.

You can live in denial for a while, but it’s a universally acknowledged truth: unless you want to end up on a reality show about hoarding, you will need to get rid of some of your stuff when you downsize your space. Approach it like a zen exercise: the more clutter you get rid of, the more peaceful your space. Leo Babauta has a number of great tips for clutter-bugs here. If it gets a little overwhelming, keep in mind that you don’t use most of the stuff you own. If all else fails, think about what you could buy if you got rid of a lot of your excess stuff and sold it online.

2) Create separate “living areas” but keep them small.

Break it down to basics: you will need some place to eat, some place to cook, come place to relax, and some place to sleep, and some place to shower and prepare for the day. A very small dining area can be right next to a sitting area and you can combine your sleeping area with a sitting area if you buy comfort sleepers or sofa beds. You can find some good design ideas for comfort sleepers here, at Sleepers in Seattle.


3) Take inspiration from other city dwellers.

Lots of people who are downsizing focus on all that they are getting rid of, and imagine that small spaces mean deprivation. Not so. Many people in Tokyo, New York City, and other urban centers have to get creative and manage to do so with style to spare. Check out some inspiration here.


4) Look for apartment-sized pieces.

If you are moving from a house or a larger apartment into a smaller rental, it can be a good idea to get rid of your larger pieces and invest in a smaller number of pieces that are streamlined for smaller spaces.


5) Look for furniture that works for the space.


If you have a house the size of a barn, fitting in a huge hall table or an extra canopy bed is no problem. Not so in a tiny apartment. If a piece of furniture is going into your apartment, it better earn its keep. A dining table with storage underneath or a roll-away kitchen trolley that can serve as extra counter space are good ideas.

6) Look for spaces on walls, ceilings, and other spots that the more space-affluent may miss.

You can put hanging shelves on your walls, or hang a garden. The space behind doors can be transformed into storage space with over-the-door hooks. Get creative and you’ll find some extra space for your stuff. Hint: make use of spaces under furniture and on top of furniture, too, by investing in fabric-covered boxes.

Think of moving into a small space as a way to test your decorating mojo. With a little extra work, small spaces can look charming and stylish. But make no mistake: it will take a little extra planning.