As somebody going into my senior year of college, working with a small living area has become second nature to me. And while I'm finally graduating from a four-person dorm room to a single-person apartment, I've still found myself pulling out the measuring tape when it comes to furniture shopping. The truth is, if you're going to college you probably are going to have to master the art of using every inch of living space, and that's not a bad thing!
Unfortunately, finding a way to fit all of your wants and needs into such a small living area can be a really frustrating task. It can take hours of moving furniture around just to realize that it worked better the way it was before. Not to mention, if you are living with roommates, you have to be mindful of all of their belongings and plans, too!
I could get into all of the other hassles- returning expensive objects (and gifts) because they don't quite fit, parting with your favorite chair because it takes up too much space, sacrificing your beloved gaming system for a well-needed study area- etc., but most of us have been down that path before (and it's not a pretty one)! Besides, the goal today is to find some solutions rather than dwelling on problems!
Thankfully, because so many people have gone through this experience, there are a few tips and tricks that can be used to make the process a little less difficult, and a little more enjoyable. And even though you may only be living in a dorm for a few years, using these strategies as you move into larger homes later in life can still come in handy! So, if you're like me and you have a few car-loads of stuff that you're going to have to move into an impossibly small space in just a few days, take a look below at some of your options!
1. Storage, storage, storage!
Probably the most obvious solution for cramming things into a small space is storage. From dressers to shelves (and a few sneaky options, too!) there are plenty of options to pick from. My piece of advice is to work with every last inch of your dorm or apartment- is there a random corner that you don't quite know what to do with? Chances are, you can find something to stick in there. Are your walls looking a little bare? With the help of command strips, you can hook hanging shelves to the wall that will look cute and save you some space!
2. Buy adaptable items!
If you want to know how to be adapt to a small environment, you need to arm yourself with adaptable items! When you're shopping, be conscious of an items use- is there a similar (and equally cute) alternative that could double as something else? A classic example is to find coffee or end tables that have a second layer to double as storage. It's surprisingly easy to find such multi-use items nowadays, and they can do a lot to save some space!
Similarly, finding items that can be stored easily- such as collapsible chairs, tables, etc.- can go a long way, too! If you can say "there will probably be a significant chunk of time when I won't be using this," then try to find a version of it that can be easily stored away until you do decide to pull it out!
3. Bigger isn't always better!
I hate to burst a few bubbles here, but when it comes to decorating a small home, bigger definitely isn't better! It may seem logical at the time to purchase a large dining table or couch, but the reality is that those tend to take up a lot of space. Before picking out the items you'll need, ask yourself, "how much of this item do I need?" Your answer may surprise you!
When I transitioned from my house to my dorm, I had to learn to give up a comfy couch for a slightly-less-comfy chair. It may seem like a large sacrifice at first, but once you realize how much room you've saved, you'll learn to separate luxury from necessity. Bonus points if you can find a small table like this, which slides easily under a chair or couch!
4. You can't always get what you want!
My final (but perhaps most important!) piece of advice is that, to better your experience of living in a small space, you have to come to terms with it. Even an expert space-saving shopper has to put back a few items before going to the checkout, and that's completely normal. Every person has a dream expectation for their home, but it can take a while before that expectation becomes a reality.
One of the most valuable things when shopping for a small area is to separate your wants and your needs. Absolutely start with your necessities before your desires, and learn to let go of some of your wishes. The reality is that your small living area can be just as magical and cozy as a large one- you just have to want it!
With move-in day just around the corner, it can be daunting to try and figure out how all of your things are going to fit into such a small space. When I first got to campus freshman year, I ended up sending back a few totes and bins that I realized I didn't have room for. It can be a blow to your pride and hopes, but when it comes to college you have to learn to roll with the punches.
I wish that there was a magical way to snap your fingers and magically have a larger dorm or apartment, but it can be just as useful to know how to plan for a small one. With smart planning, shopping, and arranging, you can turn your basically-closet into every student's dream! So here's to the start of the school season, and here's to the start of your new home- may you have as many shelves as you do textbooks!