This week’s column is dedicated to dorm life and apartment living — for everyone heading back to university or college and have snagged a spot in residence, or are renting while they’re in school. This one’s for you.
It’s not always easy converting a temporary living environment into something that feels cozy, homey and maximizes storage and function at the same time. So, here are a few tips and tricks you may want to consider this September.
The easiest way to unify a space — large or small — is to employ the technique of colour blocking. A large percentage of your decor, bedding, area rugs, towels, and other soft goods should be in the same colour family, if not the same colour all together. It’s a tried and true method when it comes to Decorating 101 — the repetition of tone creates a balance and flow that otherwise might not happen when mixing up your colour palates in smaller spaces. Most rental spaces are painted in basic white or beige — choose one or two accent tones and add another neutral. The combination will give your rooms just enough structured variety and interest, and yet not get too crazy in the colour department.
Peel & Stick
Wall paper is removable. Yes, you read that right! For spaces that can’t be painted or altered permanently, why not consider creating a feature wall or two using self-adhering and removable wall paper? Be sure to find a product that is labeled ‘strippable’ — a great alternative for a short-term decor commitment.
For rooms and areas short on extra floor space, you need to be thinking ‘modular’ when sourcing out living and bedroom furniture. Cubed ottomans that double as end tables or extra seating, upholstered benches that hinge up for extra storage. Any item that can serve double duty in the same space will keep rooms feeling as uncluttered and open as possible. Sectionals are super comfy, yet tend to swallow up whole corners — but sectionals that can be broken apart and styled separately can be the perfect solution to oddly shaped, or cramped-for-space living areas.
One-room apartments and dorm rooms that don’t implement a room divider or two can tend to look cluttered and fussy — but purposefully positioning an opened-backed book case between a living and dining space, or even a living space and bedroom is a great way to trick the eye into compartmentalizing an open concept room. Low or tall, an open-backed unit allows you to see through to the adjacent space, yet allows you to not only store books and other pertinent items centrally, it gives you a few platforms to display decorative pieces as well.
Most bedrooms and living spaces come with a standard central ceiling fixture, and don’t offer much in the way of ambience. A great way to mix up your lighting and infuse your areas with softer, more relaxing light is by hanging a single or series of corded paper lanterns. Ikea has a huge and affordable selection of these little gems — carefully tack the cord up the wall and over a corner seating area or bed for your very own custom application.
This is a rule of thumb I apply in almost all of my designs: the larger the pieces, the fewer you need to finish a room. The same goes for artwork: if you can find oversized canvases, prints, and photographs, your spaces will feel fuller and more polished than if you use a bunch of smaller, unrelated items. Stretch exotic or embellished fabrics over pre-stretched canvas — which you can pick up at art and craft stores — and hang as a headboard or feature piece at a basic looking front entry. Getting creative with scale and textures is a great way to jazz up your spaces for the interim.
» Crispin Butterfield owns Urban Theory Interior Design, and has been designing residential and commercial spaces in Brandon and abroad for the past 10 years. She welcomes your inquiries at designchick.ca
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 31, 2013