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Small space decorating - a student's art

by Jaclynn Fasken, business manager


New to school? Back for another year? Just moved into a new space–apartment, bedroom, cupboard under the stairs? Small space decorating can be fun and affordable. With a little effort, and some help from your local home hardware store—Home Depot, City Mill, and Hardware Hawai‘i have stores in Honolulu and the suburbs—your small space can be transformed into a penthouse suite.

Click on image for larger view

A vital rule in small space decorating is that dark colors make things appear smaller and light colors make things appear bigger. If you’re tired of your white walls, a taupe or sand color is a great substitute. These aren’t gleaming, but they also are not dark enough to close a room in, making it look smaller then it is.

You can accent—that is, add a little color— with candles, pictures, paintings or pillows, or brighten things up with curtains. If you have a lot of windows to dress, stick to a neutral color because a dark color can have the same effect as painting your walls dark.

A cheap and easy way to make curtains is to buy a simple curtain hanger or rod that mounts easily on your wall and adjusts to fit the space. Measure your window and buy fabric from a fabric store. This gives you the option to pick from many colors, patterns, and fabrics. Remember to buy a little extra fabric so it will bunch up, ensuring it will cover your entire window. Purchase shower curtain hangers that clip on to the curtain rod. Put the curtain hangers around the rod and clamp them to the fabric. Voila! Easy, affordable, one-of-a-kind curtains.

If you live in a studio apartment, divider screens are a good way to separate your bedroom from your living area. City Mill, a home hardware store, sells them starting at $56.99. Do-it-yourself dividers can be made by hinging old closet doors together or hanging curtains from the ceiling.
Multifunction pieces of furniture are a great idea for small spaces. Loft beds are similar to bunk beds, exept there is no bed underneath. Having your bed up high opens up floor space for other purposes. A couch or a desk can fit underneath it.

If you don’t have enough space for a bed, or you don’t like sleeping in high places, a futon or a pullout couch can act as a couch by day and your bed by night.

Need storage space? A storage chest can double as a coffee table. Hanging shoe racks are a way to create more space in the closet. And if bathroom shelving is minimal, use a hanging rack similar to the shoe rack for the back of your door. Toiletries can hang, creating more counter space for other bathroom supplies.

A few big pieces of furniture can actually make a place look bigger. Small pieces can make a small space look cluttered. Figure out what is a necessity and what is not. Do some spring cleaning and pitch the clutter.

To create the illusion of a bigger space, try hanging a large mirror reflecting a window across the room. It instantly makes the space look bigger.

If you have a lanai, close it in with bamboo shades and make it an additional living space.
A great way to organize a small space is to separate everything into stations for sleeping, study, or lounging. It is important not to make your sleeping and study area the same, according to It’s too easy to be distracted or even fall asleep. The Web site also suggests making your study space comfortable and enticing, so that you are encouraged to study. Your study area should have no distractions and proper light, so there is no shadow on your books and papers.
Before you move in, measure the space and determine where you would like your stations to be. If you already own furniture, save time and cut down on sore muscles by using tape, before you move in, to experiment with where the furniture will go. Tape will help you see where it fits best without all that lugging around of heavy items.

All this can all be done on a tight budget. Garage sales and thrift stores are a great place to get furniture, and stores such as Ross and Price Busters have reasonable prices and a wide variety of home furnishings that range from plates and coffee makers to bed linen and candles.

City Mill offers cheap, assemble-yourself furniture such as shelving units and coffee tables, and all three stores offer affordable plants that can bring life to a room.

Finally, its important to find the style you like. Whether it be modern,Victorian or classic, the style should reflect your personality. After all, you’re the one who is going to be living there. Don’t be shy about expressing what you’re all about.


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