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Smart Stuff for Small Spaces

With a cousin’s son headed this way to start college next week, we’ve got a couple of decorating challenges on hand.

First, there’s Randy’s new dorm room — How to make a small space, shared with a roommate, into a comfortable, cheerful and efficient “home away from home” for the coming school year? That’s the decorating challenge, for sure.

Secondly, we need to give Randy a place to escape the busy campus when he needs some quiet study time (or maybe just a few home-cooked meals). So I’m making over the small sewing room / home office at the top of my stairs into a second guestroom.

Decorating the Young Man’s Dorm Room

Oriental Furniture - Shoji Screen - Window Pane Room Divider with Shelf in NaturalTo fix up the dorm room is the easier of the two decorating challenges, oddly enough. Mostly because it doesn’t have to serve two purposes, and most of the furnishings are already in place, supplied by the college.

We measured up the room and found enough space for a clever room-divider Shoji screen with its own attached shelving, to create a screened corner where Randy can hide his laundry bag and other detritus of daily life.

For a young guy’s dorm room decor, it’s largely a matter of a flexible closet organizer system from a local hardware store, a pair of over-the-door hooks for towels and bathrobe, a cosy quilt in a bold graphic pattern (and coordinating pillows, to turn the standard dorm single bed into a comfy daybed couch for visitors), and a compact fridge.

Randy’s new roommate will be bringing a small microwave oven, which is allowed by their college (best check with your own, as rules for cooking in the rooms are different in different schools), so that’s one less item to shop for.

Converting the Sewing Rom / Home Office to College Boy’s Bedroom

Fu-Chest alternative to Murphy BedTo convert a very small sewing room into a bedroom for a night or two every couple of weeks, without making it too crowded to use properly between visits — that’s the tricky project!

Fortunately, with more and more of the world living in tight quarters, it wasn’t too hard to find ideas online.

Stackable, foldable and multi-purpose furniture piece offer all sorts of clever techniques for furnishing a small space for maximum efficiency.

I’m pretty keen on the idea of the Fu-Chest (new to me!) that hides a folded futon mattress in a clean-styled contemporary cabinet.  It’s billed as an alternative to the old-fashioned fold-away Murphy bed, and stikes me as a great solution for a home office that has to double as a guest room, too.

book nesting tablesAdd a few space-saving nesting tables — I found a couple of great sets with a book theme, perfect for student digs, between Wayfair and Amazon. There are a couple different styles, but the cool thing is that each of the faux book tables in the 3-piece sets even has a secret drawer!

I’ll just add a beside lamp, and maybe a lap desk with attached light, for making notes while reading or studying in bed, and “the boy” won’t have any excuse not to do his college assignments, right?

The sewing room room already contains a cozy old tub chair and a small television concealed in an armoire, as it serves a double purpose as home office and private retreat for those days when you just need a little break from the family kerfuffle.

(Note to self: take my fabric scraps and off-season jackets out of the armoire when Randy comes to stay, so he’ll have somewhere to put his own stuff!)

The only other thing I think I’d add is a mirror with attached basket-shelf for the young man’s hair goop and blowdryer and other styling essentials. Come to think of it, one of those might be useful in the dorm room, too!

I’m sure we’ll make changes to this temporary guest room as we go along, but these smart space-saver furnishings are a great start on giving our favorite college student a bit of space to call his own.

As for earning good marks and staying out of trouble? Well, that’s going to have to be our young student’s own responsibility!

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