Back-to-College: Design Tips for Small Living Spaces



Moving on to college is an exhilarating first taste of true independence. It’s a time for self-directed growth, transformative lessons and the beginning of lifelong friendships. For many students, moving into a dorm or off-campus housing is the beginning of another quest: achieving a Pinterest-perfect setting in not-so-spacious quarters.

Decorating a small space doesn’t have to mean limiting your style or personality. Here are a few solutions for creating a setting peaceful enough for dedicated study, yet vibrant enough for entertaining.

Collaboration is Key

College living often means shared spaces. When it comes to décor for common areas, it’s important for roommates to agree on themes and tone. Color selection can have a dramatic effect on a room’s energy. Make it a group decision when choosing between bold colors for a lively setting, or lighter tones for a calm sanctuary that promotes fine-tuned focus.

Prioritize functionality and easy maintenance in the kitchen, where personalities come out in full force and things will have a tendency to get messy. Even though food delivery is available with just a tap of your phone, eventually someone will see a “super easy” YouTube recipe and end up turning the kitchen into a disaster area. Build storage into cabinets with tools like the Under Cabinet Pull Out Drawer Organizer from Improvements, for easier clean-up.

Functional Furniture

When furnishing a dorm or small apartment, the more purposes a single piece of furniture can serve, the better. A small entryway table adds a nice aesthetic touch while serving as a home for keys, phones, wallets and other everyday items that tend to wander. To save space, select a narrow piece, such as the Brooke Console Table from Improvements. Their 5-in-1 Ottoman, which transforms from a generous ottoman into a bed, chair, chaise or recliner just by unfolding and rearranging, is a clever way to add functionality to a room without taking up extra space.

When it’s time to get down to work, a dedicated space is essential. However, a separate office is rare luxury. Transform any room into a study sanctuary with something mobile and versatile, like the Wellesley Mobile Office Desk, which includes multiple shelves and drawers for easy organization and a working surface big enough to fit any laptop with space to spare.

Step up Storage

Organized storage solutions are the secret weapons of any small space decorator. To avoid clutter claustrophobia, start with the closet. Invest in a modular organizer that enables you to customize your storage, helping to increase floor space and keep clothes, shoes and accessories in better shape longer.

For non-everyday essentials, a rolling storage bag is a convenient way to keep items out of sight but accessible. You can find a variety of sizes and patterns at such retailers as Improvements.

A limited space can hold unlimited possibilities with some creativity, a careful eye toward multifunctional pieces, and the right approach to balance and scale.