So, you’ve arrived at your new college digs with a truck full of stuff and a can-do attitude. The place looks nice on the outside and when you unlock and open the front door, the inside takes your breath away – but not in a good way. “It’s tiny!” you exclaim.
We’ve all been there. College is a time when you’ll inevitably be dealt the micro-loft apartment, the 400-square-foot studio, or one-room bungalow. But don’t despair!
The fact is, even the smallest spaces can be perfectly functional and feel quite homey if you’re clever about the way you set them up. Here are a few tricks for making your place appear bigger, and a few more for making the most of the available space.
Making Your Space Look Bigger
It’s like they say: appearances aren’t everything. Except sometimes they are (like when it’s a huge bummer to come home at the end of the day because your apartment is an awful drab shoebox).
A few stylish flourishes can go a long way in making a cramped space feel less claustrophobic.
Choose Clever Colors
Manipulating color schemes can’t add square footage, but it can make a room feel bigger. For example, while solid while walls may create an unpleasant, institutional feel, soft blues and greens make a room inviting and lively. When the finishes have an attractive sheen, the light they reflect opens up a room nicely.
Plain, light colored walls create opportunities for contrast incorporating bold-colored furniture and art. Inheriting a plain motif doesn’t mean the area has to be boring.
Neat and Orderly
This one is a no-brainer, but clean rooms look better. It is pleasing to see everything in its right place, but this order serves a function: when things are tidy, the space is usually being used efficiently. This means more living space and less tripping and knocking things over. If this can be achieved by simply keeping a room orderly, is paying more for lots of space even necessary?
Reflecting on Reflection
Besides reflecting light from windows and adding a bit of refinement to a room, large mirrors also create the illusion of depth, which makes rooms seem larger. They’re an easy upgrade and clever placement can also accentuate a room’s best features.
Making Your Space Perform Larger
It’s one thing to make a tiny area look a bit larger, but it’s another animal entirely to make it livable. Yet with a little ingenuity and problem, solving you’ll be surprised at how much you can do with very little.
Loft the Bed
Some practices are best left in college – indoor slip-n’-slide, for example – but lofting isn’t necessarily one of them. While we use the majority of horizontal space in a room, we generally only use a fraction of the vertical space.
Since beds are normally the biggest fixtures in a room (35 sq. ft. for a queen), it makes a ton of sense to raise them up because you’re essentially freeing up this space for other things like desks, dresser drawers and couches.
Use All Of Your Closet
If you’re lucky enough to have a built-in closet, it still probably only has two hangar rods. What no one thinks about is the space on the sides of the closet that are ripe for easy to-install shelving. This is a great spot for shoes and accessories.
The back upper-fifth of the closet is also rarely used, but a great spot for a sturdy storage shelf.
Think Multi-Purpose First
If you can help it, only buy furniture that can serve more than one function, like an old trunk that can serve as a footrest for your couch, or a drop-leaf table that can also be used as a work space.
Use Floating Shelves for Decoration
In a small dorm room or apartment, there are only so many places to put things like computer monitors, televisions, vanity mirrors, and lamps. Use inexpensive floating shelves to display appearance pieces like framed pictures, candles, books or vases. Try staggering shelves to mix it up a bit.
Make Your Work Space Workable
A flat space large enough to place a laptop and still have elbow room is valuable real estate. Depending on the depth of your work desk, a shallow, small book shelf atop the desk and pushed flush against the wall can house paper trays, pen cups, and even your printer.
Just A Small Problem
Most of us will live in a tiny place eventually, but diminutive size doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. With the right paint, setup and a few clever tricks, the modest square-footage of your new living situation can be an afterthought.