They say that “less is more”, but that feeling readily subsides when you live in under 400 square feet.
We feel your small-space pain, but also know that there’s a few tricks you can use to make your dorm or apartment feel slightly more spacious. Here, photographer Ruby June shares her favorites with us:
1. Seating Options
Nothing says small space like “Welcome to my home, let’s stand for hours!”. Having a plethora of seating options will give you and your guests ease and mobility. Floor pillows may be the most miraculous invention for those of us that have always preferred sitting on the floor but get tired of people cringing and asking “Are you sure you don’t want a chair?”. Floor sitting has never been easier and more socially acceptable. Whatever seating options you go with, make sure they’re comfortable, cute and future proof. A nice white pleather chair seems like the best idea until a million butts have sat on it and left a gray tinted half moon on the seat.
2. Artwork = Windows Into Other Worlds
If you don’t have windows with scenic overlooks (or if you don’t have windows at all) having artwork can really transport you into another world! You can live next to an eternally blooming field of sunflowers by simply hanging it on your wall. Don’t have the money to pay a man to stand outside your window in a spacesuit at sunrise every morning? No problem—there’s a painting for that! Haven’t figured out how to turn clouds pink and rain in straight lines? We got you. Create the world you want to live in one piece of art at a time.
3. Make the Little Things Count
In smaller spaces there’s no room for throwaway pieces. You’d be surprised how much having a single hand towel or bath mat that you are in love with affects how you feel in your space—even having your favorite soap in the bathroom or some candles can really make a simple space feel grand.
4. Mirrors Mirrors on the Wall
You can honestly never have too many mirrors. Have you ever been in a restaurant and thought it went on for miles only to realize halfway through your meal you’ve been staring at your own reflection and that cute girl across the room is actually just yourself? Trick all your friends into thinking you have a 5 bedroom apartment by strategically hanging mirrors in the space.
5. Section Off Spaces
The bed is the most tempting place to work and eat, but the brain can’t handle this kind of cross contamination. It’s finally time for bed and you flop down under the blanket only to get the strangest urge to go back into the kitchen! Or to pick up your laptop and refresh your inbox one…last…time! You are training your brain to seek work and food in the one place it needs to know it’s okay to rest! In a small space it’s important to find nooks for work, for food, for hanging out—without these sections your brain will get very muddy every time you enter the room.
6. Keep Things Tucked Away (No Nonsense Organization)
It’s not a crime to have all your tax documents and receipts saved from the past 5 years. But it is a crime to make everyone else stare at them every time they visit. Finding storage that will conceal all of your “real people” things (makeup, deodorant, unsorted mail, cat litter) will give your brain room to relax. The brain needs to see a clear space in order to operate at maximum capacity. If you’re sitting down trying to work and in your peripheral you see a hot glue gun and a pallet of 120 shades of eyeshadow, it’s too easy to get distracted and think maybe you should practice your halloween skull makeup and start gluing together your flower crown… for hours. If these things are tucked away they are not going to beckon you to play with them at inappropriate hours. Out of sight out of mind.
7. Lighting Is Key
Lighting is the life or death of any space. Think of all the classrooms you spent hours in under fluorescent lights? Now imagine that same space with just a few beautiful lamps-light cascading over the desks in the most cinematic way. Almost makes you want to do homework right? If you’re living in a space that has windows facing the street or other environments that make you feel the need to constantly keep the blinds shut, then investing in a window film may be the best option for you to keep some natural light in the space! You don’t need to be a handy-man-rocket-scientist to make this DIY project happen. Whether it’s window film, amazing lamps, or light bulbs that change color, getting perfect lighting in a small space is essential.
8. Invest In Your Environment
As tempting as it is to go out and buy the first shower curtain you see because “Hello! just moved in and am desperate to shower!” I encourage you to wait. Wait for each item you add to your space because in small spaces you run into every item a lot. In a giant house you can get away with having that awful duvet cover in the guest bedroom because you’ll never have to sleep with it anyways. But in your precious small space, every inch matters! It is worth waiting till you find “The One.”
9. Find Your “Getaway”
Everyone needs a quick escape plan. Not for natural disasters (though that is good to have too) but for emotional disasters. It’s hard to cry it out in a room with literally anyone that’s not an animal. Adding floor pillows to a decent sized closet is surprisingly comforting and gives your brain the ease of knowing there IS an escape. If crying in the closet is not an option for you, I will say from personal experience bathtubs are not the most comfortable and finding an outdoor space might be in your best interest. Whether it’s a beautiful patio with a table and chairs or even a bench down the street you know you can monopolize for a time, find your getaway before you need it! Living in small spaces without a getaway can really affect relationships and give you a general “trapped” feeling.
10. Quick Clean: Every Day. No Exceptions. No Excuses.
In small spaces it is easy for a “I’ll just set my coat on this chair” to turn into “There’s already a coat here, I’ll just pile these papers, shoes, and bags here too… why not!” Why not? Because one pile turns into a road block which prevents you from putting other things away which leads to more piles which leads to a tornado of clothes coming from the cracks. You look around and think “How did I get here? I don’t remember ANY of this happening. Was my place ransacked by raccoon?” No, it was not. It was you coming up with perfectly logical excuses as to why you could wait to clean. Don’t wait! Do!