Really really really small.
October 16, 2007 7:14 PM   Subscribe

How to make a SMALL bedroom livable?

I just moved into a new apartment with friends, and while the place is overall very nice, my bedroom is very very small. 7 feet by 10 feet, with one small window on the narrow wall.

I have googled a lot of related search terms to get ideas for decorating... unfortunately the term "tiny bedroom" seems to refer to rooms about twice as big as mine.

Does anyone have experience making a very small space livable? Any photos, tips, or links would be super helpful, thanks!
posted by allen8219 to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
First, what all do you need to fit in your bedroom? Is it only the place that you sleep? Do you need a desk, a place to sit and read, etc., or can you do those things in the rest of the apartment.

Also, how high is the ceiling?
posted by winston at 7:20 PM on October 16, 2007

Check out these small but cool apartments.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:22 PM on October 16, 2007

I also live in a tiny, tiny bedroom, but I've managed to make the best use of my space with some good storage solutions. I found a wardrobe at Ikea that perfectly filled one wall up to the door and gave me lots of storage space for all kinds of things (not just clothes), and I also installed a wide shelf that I use as a vanity. How much use that would be for you probably depends on whether you use a lot of products and so on, but I've found it to be a great way to keep things ordered in the morning (and it's a nice place to put a plant or two, which helps cheer up the space).
Other than that - as many mirrors as you can stand, and lamps - not those overhead lights that make every room look depressing and tiny.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:25 PM on October 16, 2007

I live in a pretty small space (about 10 x 8), have been for some years, with a single small window. I'm fairly comfortable. What I basically did was "go vertical:"
Loft bed helps a lot, giving you all the space under it. High shelves for books and such. Helps to have folding furniture (folding or flexible patio furniture or camping furniture can be quite comfortable and take up very little space (or can be stowed away easily). Get tables with surfaces that fold down. Other than that, keep your possessions to a minimum, of course. I dont think there's any real trick to it except in finding furniture that helps you maximize vertical space since your horizontal space is at a premium. Having done that I live quite comfortably in my little monk cave.
posted by jak68 at 7:25 PM on October 16, 2007

Thanks winston, those are all good questions I really should have included...

I need to fit the bed, a desk, and some clothes/book/personal item storage in the room. The apartment's living room is pretty big, so I can do my reading etc. there. There is also a closet down the hall where I can keep most of my clothes... I think I just really want to have some in-room storage for underwear, t-shirts, and socks.

The ceiling is pretty high, I think 10 ft, with a hanging light fixture.

I have a small glass/metal desk I can put in the room, and I can put my laptop on that. I think I will put some shelving up above the desk, maybe screwed into the wall to maximize the space.
posted by allen8219 at 7:30 PM on October 16, 2007

Ikea is your friend. Their stores have displays set up with very small spaces having an amazing amount of storage spaces in them.
posted by dg at 7:34 PM on October 16, 2007

jak68 has the right idea. Think height. Use the height of the ceiling and make it your friend.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:38 PM on October 16, 2007
posted by jak68 at 7:39 PM on October 16, 2007

Loft bed, like a bunk, but with a couch or storage underneath. Very college.
posted by caddis at 7:42 PM on October 16, 2007

Doors take a bunch of space, especially if they open into your room. It takes some work but you can reclaim that space with either a curtain (beads, whatever) or a some sort of temporary pocket door (aka an accordion door.) Of you can just flip your door and hinges around so that it opens out of the room (requires some carpentry skill and tools...)

Often a small room will allow you to expand up. Consider a loft bed or at least high shelving for extra storage.

Lastly, if you have to make the room do double duty as a hang out space and a bedroom then a futon is your friend...
posted by wfrgms at 7:46 PM on October 16, 2007

I think the loft thing is a good idea for this space... probably not so high that I would be sitting under the bed, but I could definitely use a couple feet of storage space down there.

Does Ikea do raised beds, or do you think it would make more sense to just build something myself? Cinderblocks would work I guess, but then I would need something to cover them up...
posted by allen8219 at 8:05 PM on October 16, 2007

With 10 foot high ceilings, you should really loft your bed - at least five feet. Then you can put your desk under the bed, and then set a dresser with shelves against it on any remaining available wall.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:24 PM on October 16, 2007

For a medium-high rise bed on the fairly cheap look into flat pack kitchen cabinets. They are
  • 30" high so your matress surface ends up around 40-44" high if you skip the box spring
  • Sturdy
  • designed to be screwed together
  • available with either doors, drawers or a combination in a wide variety of styles, colours, materials, and finishes
  • Top with slats to support your mattress
  • Only require a screwdriver or hex key to assemble though you'll need a saw to cut slats and some kind of drill/screw gun to get the extras assembled.
They work excellent for a double bed with access from both sides but are too deep for a single unless you can live with a platform all the way around. Or you could arrange them with access from the end(s).

Something like this tall bed.
posted by Mitheral at 9:33 PM on October 16, 2007

Among other things I put a desk on top of my desk. That way, the lower desk was for working as usual, and then there was this whole other shelving area above it reaching to the ceiling for things like TV (to watch from the bed), stereo, books, storage, etc.

(Take care if you're in an earthquake zone though)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:38 PM on October 16, 2007

I bought my son a double loft bed from Ikea with a desk the full length under. He has to be careful not to hit his head, but I don't (he's 6"3, I'm 5"5). We could not find a single bed long enough to fit him and short enough for his tiny room, so he sleeps diagonally.

If you don't need a double bed (and I wouldn't recommend high jinks up there, it seems to squeak a fair bit with ordinary usage), why not get the double bed but with a single or king single mattress. That leaves you with a non-mattressy area you can use as a kind of shelf with your bedtime lamp and reading material.

Apart from that, neatness is the key and less of everything is definitely more.
posted by b33j at 10:58 PM on October 16, 2007

When I lived in a tiny space, I lofted my bed and it was great. I was able to fit a big, comfy chair and a full-sized desk under my bed. Get anything you can off of the floor and onto the walls.. as in shelved on the wall not a bookcase sort of thing.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:20 AM on October 17, 2007

Make sure it's always clean - i.e. no dirt, dust or cobwebs. Then you ensure that no electronics invade your sacred sleeping space because you need rest and not electromagnetic interference. Also no infra red digital anything. Bring in soft, kind and gentle things that induce peace. Put up beautiful pictures.
posted by watercarrier at 2:06 AM on October 17, 2007

A futon or murphy bed is probably the best choice. In college I used a fold-out couch for a bed and my bedroom doubled as my living room. If you are handy you could custom build a bed/desk/couch.
posted by JJ86 at 5:59 AM on October 17, 2007

They sell bed risers at Bed Bath & Beyond or Home Depot (and probably at Wal-mart and any other generalish store). They look kind of like flower pots, and you prop the legs of your bed on them. I've camouflaged mine with some cheap painted wooden boxes I got at an art store.
posted by bluefly at 6:05 AM on October 17, 2007

Loft beds are the way to go, even if you just have storage underneath. Also, it might sound obvious, but getting rid of stuff you dont use entirely, and putting stuff you use rarely in storage outside of your room (if this is an option).

Vertical storage solutions will maximise the floorspace you have, rather than splaying horizontally.

Painting your room a lighter colour helps too, the darker colour your room is, the more like a black hole it is.
posted by ilumos at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2007

I'd work on moving anything out of the room that you don't need in there. In the living room of myold apartment we all stored our books in a big common bookshelf, and we had a little "craft corner" with a spare table and all our various art/craft supplies. Freed up room in our individual rooms.

In terms of visual space, keep things as bright as possible - invest in some strategically-placed lamps, paint a bright color to reflect light.
posted by radioamy at 8:24 PM on October 17, 2007
posted by k7lim at 12:54 AM on October 23, 2007

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