As the old idiom states, big things come in small packages — a small bedroom doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, storage, or comfort. If you organize your small room, you can have everything you need in a cozy little package. And if you’re selling soon, organizing a small bedroom to its full potential is key to charming buyers.
“People are always looking to maximize space,” notes Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers in New York, who helps clients reorganize their small rooms for optimal configuration.
We interviewed Zaslow and combed the web to create this ultimate guide to organizing a small room. Heed our advice and you can transform your small bedroom into a stunning space.
First, clean every inch of your small room
Cleaning is the critical first step in organizing a small room. If your home isn’t clean, it can take thousands of dollars off your asking price.
“The more stuff you have, the more dust it will collect,” Zaslow observes.
A clean room is easier to organize, so start with our cleaning guide and get your bedroom into sparkling ship shape.
Draw attention to the upper half of the room
Draw the eye upward by hanging curtains close to the ceiling. This design hack creates the illusion of space. Using vertical space tricks the mind into thinking a room is bigger. Megan Rogers, owner of One Less Stress Professional Organizing, suggests installing shelves to store books and other items up high on your walls. Consider also filling a corner with a tall plant or small tree to help elevate the eye.
Match the window dressings to the wall color
Further enhance the illusion of a larger room size by matching the color of the curtains to the wall. Window dressings that contrast with the wall take up visual space, making your room appear smaller.
When it comes to color, don’t feel constrained to whites or neutrals. Darker shades can create a tranquil bedtime atmosphere. However, Zaslow cautions, dark colors can “feel heavy” visually if not executed properly.
To continue the cohesive look, coordinate the color of your bedding and accessories to complement the walls and drapes.
Declutter Marie Kondo style
Decluttering is one of the most important (and often, most difficult) steps in creating a spacious feel. According to HomeLight’s research, reducing clutter is so important that it can add $2,500 to your home’s value at resale.
“Minimize,” Rogers advises. “Have as little visible as possible. Too much furniture or too many trinkets make a space feel small.”
Neatly tuck your belongings away in the closet, under the bed, or in a cabinet to make the space feel larger and more organized.
Sell or give away things you no longer particularly want. Rogers empowers clients to move on from the emotional baggage that sometimes guilts them into hanging onto items they no longer use. To ease the separation anxiety, remember that you’re trading these belongings for a higher home value, translating to more money in your pocket at resale. Our research indicates that reducing clutter can increase a home’s sale price by $2,500.
If you have excess furniture in the bedroom, sell the pieces on a second-hand marketplace like OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist.
“Let it go while it’s still useful,” Zaslow urges. Styles change, and you’ll stand a better chance of selling furniture while the design is still in demand.
Many people follow the KonMari Method created by Marie Kondo, where you remove all items from your home that do not “spark joy.” It’s an extreme tactic yet is highly effective.
Another pro decluttering method is the 12-12-12 rule conceived by Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less and The Minimalist Home. The rule instructs homeowners to choose 12 items to throw away, 12 to donate, and 12 to return to their proper places.
Pare down your closet’s content
As many as 45% of first-time buyers say a walk-in closet in the main bedroom is essential. But if you can’t “walk in” due to all of the clutter, you’re wasting an opportunity to impress buyers.
Reduce closet clutter by 50%. Don’t be afraid to be ruthless. Give away, donate, or sell clothes that don’t fit and items you don’t really need or use.
Work at decluttering your closet one section at a time, so it’s not overwhelming. “Start small and build on the momentum,” Zaslow says. Your closet shouldn’t look overstuffed. She offers a few quick tips to declutter your closet:
- Remove empty hangers and dry cleaning bags.
- Move out-of-season clothes elsewhere.
- Leave open space between stacks of clothes and linens, so closet shelves don’t look crowded. Leave 1 inch of space between hanging clothes for the same reason.
- Organize accessories, shoes, and jewelry in drawers, decorative baskets, or bins.
- Add a closet organizer.
To evaluate your progress, check whether you can see the back of the closet and if 20% to 30% of the closet is open space.
Optimize storage here, there, and everywhere
Eliminate unnecessary furniture — too much furniture makes a room look cluttered. Include only the essentials in a small room by taking a minimalist approach.
“Furniture needs to earn its keep,” Zaslow proclaims. She chooses double-duty furniture, such as storage ottomans. “No one ever sits in ‘that chair.’ It ends up covered in clothes.” Instead, replace unused seating and unnecessary decor with storage. The same goes for that dust-covered treadmill or exercise bike, by the way.
Storage is high on a homebuyer’s list of must-haves, but if they can’t see your storage potential for the mess, you could be leaving money on the table. Visible storage can make a room look more functional, and therefore more spacious.
Stash shoes, linens, and out-of-season clothes in under-bed drawers so they’re out of the way but still easy to access. “Under-bed storage is ‘Number 1,'” Rogers says. She says tall bed frames that are 13″ to 16″ off the ground are a good height for storage down below, although most standard beds will allow at least the plastic gift wrap containers.
Swap a dresser for a tall, narrow chest of drawers to play on that optical illusion using vertical space. “A tall chest will draw the eye up,” Rogers confirms, explaining that you don’t want all your furniture at eye level because it will “stunt” your vision and make the ceiling feel shorter.
“The biggest problem is that people buy furniture they like, not what fits in their space.”
Swap your bed for a better-suited design
There are options for space-saving beds. Zaslow believes the choice depends on the room’s purpose: Is it the main bedroom, a child’s bedroom, or a guest room? Children delight in the old stand-by space-saving bed: bunk beds. Adults usually opt for something different.
Beds that fold into the wall
For guest bedrooms and studios, consider a bed that folds into the wall. A wall bed incorporates a spring mechanism to “fold” the bed into the wall when not in use and includes cabinets on both sides.
A Murphy bed is a wall-mounted bed with springs and metal frames that raise the bed vertically when not in use but doesn’t include cabinets. Invented by William Lawrence Murphy, an American version became popular in the 1930s for apartments.
Murphy beds are more expensive than standard wall beds due to construction from quality materials, incorporating intricate mechanisms like hydraulic lift systems, installation, and purpose-built mattresses designed to stand upright most of the time.
For example, this Urban Murphy Bed with Optional Hutches costs $1,583.20, while the Queen size Newport Murphy Bed in Paint Grade Wood / White Finish runs $6,234 for extras like an LED lighting system, 16″ hutch door and drawer, and a slide-out tray.
Another consideration with beds that fold into the wall is the loss of flexibility. “You can’t take it with you,” Zaslow points out. And if a buyer doesn’t like it, the cost to remove a built-in bed can be a deterrent.
Beds with storage underneath
A platform bed is a slightly raised bed, typically on a slat bed frame or storage shelves to maximize under-bed storage. Sometimes called a captain’s bed, it usually has drawers on both sides. They are often more affordable than other storage beds. This Madison White Full Platform Bed with Matching Foot Board with 2-Urban Bed Drawers costs just $575.18.
A storage bed features a bed frame that incorporates storage, usually with drawers. Sometimes prone to hardware issues that prevent drawers from rolling smoothly on the tracks, they tend to be pricey and must be disassembled for moving. But hey, at least there’s no opportunity for dust bunnies to live under the bed!
A loft bed is similar to a bunk bed, but this raised bed can live above another or sit above a desk or play area. Rogers likes loft beds for kids’ rooms because they create a nook for reading or homework. Many, like this Alfred loft bed with a desk for $539 are reasonably priced.
Pull-out sofa beds have come a long way since Elaine hurt her back on Jerry Seinfeld’s parents’ fold-away bed. Many contemporary designs have gel or memory foam mattresses for added comfort. Space-saving without busting the budget, futon beds come in almost any style and color, like this Paidge Twin Sleeper, Dove for $1349. When nap time is over, fold the bed back into the sofa, and voila! You increase open space in your small bedroom.
Take full advantage of your walls
You’re not organizing a small room right if you don’t harness vertical space. Follow these tips to free up surface space and enhance your room’s appearance:
- Free up floor space by replacing lamps with wall sconces. Affix wall sconces (also called wall lights) to the walls, typically at a height of 60 inches to 72 inches above the floor. Sconces come in a wide variety of styles, such as the transitional look of the Possini Euro Favreau 16 1/4″ High Warm Brass Wall Sconce for $69.99.
- For easy bedtime reading, swing-arm sconces are a good choice because they adjust to direct light down for reading or into the room when you’re getting dressed in the morning. Available in a variety of styles, swing-arm sconces are attractive and affordable.
- Wall hooks are perfect for hanging belts, scarves, and accessories; the same goes for a door hanger for shoes.
- A pegboard is another way to organize your accessories. Customize the look with different sizes or shapes of pegboard, paint it, and select different kinds of hooks for unlimited options, with everything from industrial steel to traditional hardboard. To determine where to hang a pegboard, locate the studs and mount them to the wall using drywall screws.
Final tips to organize your small room
Before you get started on organizing your small space, take note of these final tips from our experts:
- When you’re shopping for bedroom furniture, carefully check each piece’s measurements and know the space you’re working with, Rogers advises. “How you fill the space is important.”
- Keep the layout simple. Placing the bed in the middle of the main wall provides space to walk around it for better room flow.
- Use symmetry in a small room to visually maximize the space.
- Find a fresh set of eyes to evaluate. “Things become ‘invisible to us,” Zaslow surmises. Ask a friend if your space looks organized or cluttered.
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