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 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.

Secondly, 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), I'm making over the small sewing room at the top of my stairs into a second guestroom.

To fix up the dorm room is the easier of the two decorating challenges. It's largely a matter od 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 room single bed into a comfy daybed couch for visitors), and a compact fridge - his new roommate will be bringing a small microwave oven. 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.

To 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. In particular, Stacks and Stacks has all sorts of clever products for furnishing a small space. 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.

Add a few space-saving nesting tables - I found a great set with a book theme, perfect for student digs, and the table even has a secret drawer! - and a lap desk with attached light, for making notes while reading or studying in bed. The room already contains a cost old tub chair and a small television concealed in an armoire. (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 his responsibility!

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