By Joann Pan
Special to Relocation.com
Just having just graduated from college (read: tons of experiences living making the most of small spaces living with an odd number of girls) has taught me many things about making the most of your small rented space. Despite, four years of making the most of cramped spaces, we would like to think we became small space experts after watching hours of "Oprah" where she brought in the décor master Nate Berkus to fix the living spaces of plain Jane's across the U.S. After watching what seems like hundreds of scream/leap/tear-inducing reveals, we feel like we’ve soaked in enough to show you what it takes to make something out of your rented property! As soon as you follow Relocation.com's tips to making your small rental space an inviting and comfortable, you’ll be set to host plenty of shindigs and get-togethers for friends and family.
Where you can find the coolest furniture, for cheap:
Thrift stores are a great way to purchase upscale products that people no longer need or have space for -- after all one person's junk is another person's treasure. We love shop the Housing Works Thrift Shops in NYC. They have 10 locations throughout the city and operate 50 facilities throughout the five boroughs, Albany, NY and Washington, D.C. You can find tons of great finds here in all shapes and sizes. With eclectic collections of furniture from thrift stores, you will be able to work fill awkward corners with the perfect shaped or sized couch or table and make the most of your space. Relocation.com recommends buying the ugly, ratty wooden chairs that you would surely skip over any other day. With the right supplies and an ounce of creativity, you can turn your thrifted find into the coolest chair on the block. Check these do-it-yourself projects out (from Design*Sponge online: www.designspongeonline.com/category/before-and-after). With some paint and new cushions, furniture can be good as new.
What color to paint your walls and how to lengthen the spaces:
Once upon a time, we painted our small bedroom navy blue, and my once tiny bedroom looked even more crammed. As you learn from our experience, painting your walls a lighter color will be easier on the eyes and make your space look bigger and grander to the eyes. And you can get cute little wall stencils—we personally love these pretty bird-themed wall decals, which would work perfectly with light blue or pale yellow walls. Also, picture frames work well to decorate walls and are cheap to purchase. Try lining your wall with some laundry string and hanging up photos of your favorite moments. This can save space and room for clutter of picture frames on tables and shelve space.
What to buy and what to skip:
Definitely buy things that are smaller and more functional than usual. Your favorite books can act as apartment pieces that can express to your guests who you are and your kitchen walls can act as storage—with the magic of a magnetic strip—for your most used pots and pans. Your living room can be your office and your favorite living space with decorative storage boxes, files and other items that can hide your office supplies while sprucing up the space with one color. We would skip cumbersome tables, huge TV sets, excessively big lamps or ostentatious carpeting. Keep colors neutral and matching to pull it all together with table in the center of the room or an area rug to anchor it all down.
As with anything you do to your small apartment, we would recommend asking your landlord how he feels about painting the walls, putting hinges and pins in the walls for shelves and if you can get rid of the wall-to-wall carpeting—anything like that. As you can see, with some careful decorating and simplicity in bringing things in, you can make your small rental space into a magnificently fabulous living space. Hey, no one will notice that you can reach one wall to another with your finger tips if they are checking out your DIY chairs and your marvelous book collection.
Joann Pan is a freelance writer and photographer based in New York City. She has interned and contributed to Buffalo Spree Magazine and Racked NY.