How to Personalize a Small Space Rental

Photo by Gades Photography on Unsplash

The Challenge:

Renting rather than buying your home presents a new challenge. How do you personalize your small space while keeping within the terms of your rental agreement?

The primary challenge for living large in a small space is how to create a warm and inviting home while finding the best use for every square inch without creating clutter.

That’s quite a challenge in itself.  But it’s not impossible. It’s totally doable.

There are multiple ways to personalize a rented home.

This photo is of an apartment in New York City’s West Village.  It’s bright and open and only 500 square feet! By keeping the walls and most of the furnishings white, the apartment seems much larger. Pops of red and blue keep it from looking sterile. I love that rug!

Read on to see two takes on personalizing an apartment.


Two Identical Floor Plans – Two Unique Designs

I know you’ll enjoy the following Apartment Therapy video of two apartments in  New York City. They are both rentals. They’re in the same building three floors apart and have identical floor plans.

These two apartments are located in the Cherokee Apartments, a historic block of apartments in Gothic Revival style and built as a tuberculosis sanitarium.

The money was donated by Anne Harriman Vanderbilt and the architect, Henry Atterbury Smith, brilliantly designed the four interconnected six-story buildings to create a healthy environment for the patients.

Read about its history in this article on the Atlas Obscura website. It’s fascinating.

But I digress! Here’s the Apartment Therapy video that features these two apartments.

These two apartments are good examples of how to easily and inexpensively personalize a rental apartment.  Notice how just changing the wall color makes such a difference in the vibe of each apartment.  Also, one is pretty much a wide open space where the other has a separate bedroom.

So just imagine how you can employ these same small space ideas into your own tiny abode! Enjoy.

A Success Story on Apartment Therapy

I’ve just read a fabulous story about Emilie who transformed her small 752 Sq. Ft. apartment with contact paper and stencils and a little elbow grease.  She did a remarkable job. Check it out!

A Small Rental Updated With Contact Paper, Stencils, and More

IKEA to the rescue!

Here’s another video transformation of a small apartment. Ikea came in to help maximize this small space. The end result is quite inspiring.

This is the living/dining room, of course, but it’s the space where they spend the most time.

I love the table which can be used as a desk but expanded when you are entertaining. The wall mounted cabinets were a stroke of genius and created a perfect spot for the bicycles.

The only change I might suggest is that they swap out the sofa for a sofa bed or a daybed which could be used as a guest bed.

Did you know?

IKEA is named after the initials of founder Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, the farm on which he grew up, and Agunnaryd, the nearby village.


 Just so you know, is offering some great deals on furniture and they have dozens of sleeper sofas, for example. The sale goes through November 11th. (Affiliate)

Your thoughts?

How have you personalized a small home…rental or not. If you’ve got a great idea for personalizing a small space rental, please comment…add pictures, too, if you like!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and maybe found a couple of ideas to jazz up your own home. I’ll be sure to update this when I discover other neat tricks and tips.

Stay tuned!

Cheryl K Logo

The Challenge of Small Spaces

The Challenge of Small Spaces

Small Space Challenges and How to Deal With Them

There’s an interior designer from Boston, MA named Gary McBournie and this is what he says about small spaces:

“I prefer living in a small house. It just puts its arms around you and makes you feel at home.”

That’s a lovely sentiment and it’s exactly how I feel in spite of the challenges that are part of small space living.

I do know something about the challenge of small spaces.

Photo by christian koch on Unsplash

I recently downsized from a single family residence to a townhouse and, although it has everything I want in a home, it’s so much smaller than I realized when I purchased it!

Even though I purged a lot of belongings before moving into the townhouse, it was surprising how little room I had to work with.

For example, I had a sectional that I just loved and when measuring the new living room before moving in, I thought it would fit just fine.  Nope!  Even though it DID fit, it was just too big for the space.  So I sold it and purchased a sofa and two chairs.

Buying a smaller sectional would have been a good option but having a sofa and two chairs will make rearranging the room so much easier.  And I promise you, that furniture will be rearranged from time to time.  It’s in my DNA!

Actually, furniture for small rooms doesn’t necessarily have to be small.  Good proportions and style are more important, in fact.

My small space doesn’t look so small, now!

So I’m on a learning curve and I’ll share my journey with everyone facing the challenge of their own small spaces.


I’ve since moved from that townhouse in Minnesota to an even smaller home in Arizona. So I’ve been able to use everything I learned when I first downsized!

First of all, I didn’t move all of the furniture I had in that townhouse. The layout of my new small home is totally different than that of the townhouse.

I decided to furnish my new abode AFTER I moved. It saved moving expenses and I used that money to buy new furniture.

Actually, a lot of it isn’t NEW new…I’m happiest when I find hidden gems at resale shops, consignment stores, and Craigslist. It’s the thrill of the hunt, I guess. I love everything I found, though, so all’s well that ends well. And everything fits!

There’s an article in the latest online edition of Apartment Therapy that I think you’ll enjoy.  It’s all about measuring properly before buying furniture.

In a nutshell, it reminds us to measure:

  • The room
  • The length, height, and depth to determine angles
  • Doorways and Stairs
  • The furniture that you’re planning to purchase

Had I measured that sectional as well as the room before I moved, I definitely wouldn’t have moved it! So this is good advice.

Your thoughts?

Have you overcome a small space decor challenge?  Please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Cheryl K Logo


Decorating Ideas from Pinterest

Pinterest LogoFind Small Space Decorating Ideas on Pinterest

Pinterest is a goldmine for small space decorating ideas. 

If I’m looking for a recipe or beautiful artwork or a clever quotation, I can always find dozens of ideas on Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social networks. It’s kind of the photo equivalent of Twitter!

My Pinterest Boards include Small Space Solutions, Home Style, Kitchens, Inspired Garden Ideas.

Except that instead of short 140 character posts, Pinterest is a collection of small photos representing dozens of interests.

For example, if I need ideas for storage in a small bedroom, kitchen or garage or a DIY tutorial for repurposing a dresser or buffet, I’ll check Pinterest, first.

Desert Landscape

Desert Landscape

I live in Arizona and recently bought a small house. The winter climate in Arizona is ideal but summers are sizzling so it was important for me to find landscaping ideas suitable for my small yard.

Pinterest was the first place I looked and I created a board called Arizona Landscaping Ideas. I’m still working on my landscaping but if you check out the ideas I’ve gathered, you’ll see that the desert can be just beautiful!

Search Pinterest for Small Space DIY Projects

I have a Pinterest board called Small Space Solutions where I post photographs and links that are excellent ideas for maximizing small spaces.  Like this clever idea for organizing jewelry:

Several of my related boards are:

Architectural Elements

Pinterest architecture

Home Style


Beautiful Homes, Inside and Out 

(including lots of small cottages/tiny houses)

pinterest beautiful tiny

Brilliant Miscellaneous Ideas

Pinterest Brilliant

Inspired Garden Ideas

Pinterest garden

Nearly every day I find something new to “pin”!

So check out my links and then join me on Pinterest…register if you aren’t there, already.

Then, let me know in the comments what your link is.

I’d love to follow you…perhaps I’ll find a new passion!

How to Organize Your Closet

A relaxing bedroom retreat is on everyone’s wish list, right?

Photo by Widell + Boschetti – Browse bedroom ideas


(Updated 10/10/2018)

Nearly every decorator or designer recommends that the very first room you should complete is your bedroom. It’s your sanctuary…the place to go at the end of a long day. It’s where you regroup, relax, rest and it’s all yours…a private retreat.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the last room we decorate because it’s a private area and we want our public areas decorated, first.

We need to change our thinking about that!

I don’t know about you but if my bedroom is disorganized it’s not a retreat and I can’t relax. So organizing that space is pretty important.

1. Start with the closet.

A small bedroom is difficult to organize especially if it’s shared by two people. You’ve got double everything…clothing, shoes, accessories and finding space in a small space can be frustrating.

2. Next…sort and purge.

Photo by apartmentjeanie
Discover bedroom design ideas

If you’re just moving in, you’ve probably already done that but if not…now’s the time.

Here’s how to go about that in an orderly way:

  • Take inventory of your clothes and shoes
  • Move out-of-season items to another place
  • Decide what kind of storage system will work for you so you don’t buy boxes and bins that won’t work.
  • Measure the space. That’s important when you go shopping for any organizers or shelving systems.

3. Make a plan.

How much closet space do you need for hanging clothes? Do you have more short items like shirts and pants or longer items like dresses and robes?

Do you need shoe storage? There are hanging shoe bins which work well. I have one in my master closet. I love it because I can see all my shoes at a glance. Shoe shelves that sit on the floor are great, too.

Most closets have enough room above the shelf in the closet to install a second shelf higher up which is perfect for out of season clothes packed in bins or blanket bags. Or suitcases.

Which Closet System Fits Your Needs?

You’ll get more bang for your buck with a really good closet organizer.  I absolutely recommend getting one for each closet.Closet Maid Closet System
This one is a beauty for a small closet. It’s by ClosetMaidand it’s available on It can totally be customized to fit your space. This particular configuration is designed for closets from 4 to 6 feet wide. Of course, you can get larger systems, too.

If you have a big walk-in closet (unlikely in a small space but not unheard of), has so many great closet systems and organizers you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Some systems have drawers, shelves, and rods in many configurations.
  • There’s an installation guide with all of the options.
  • Some additional options include shoe racks and corner shelves…you name it.

In my guest room, I’ve got a hanging shoe organizer and a hanging shelf organizer. It’s great because I don’t have a chest or dresser in that room but when my company comes, they can still unpack their suitcases and make themselves at home!

The point is, you can make this work whatever your situation.  It’s affordable and has so many good reviews.

I would love to have your thoughts on these suggestions and any unique solutions that might be working for you, too.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned!

Cheryl K Logo

Using Mirrors in Small Spaces

Using Mirrors in Small Spaces

Why You Should Use Mirrors in Small Spaces

Regardless of the size of the room, light is an important element in home decor. Light enhances the furnishings and the colors in the room. Natural light is ideal but sometimes it’s lacking in a space so including mirrors in room design is a favorite choice by many interior designers.

Mirrors and Light

Using mirrors in small spaces is an effective way to enhance the size and depth of the room by reflecting the natural light. Mirrors give the illusion of more space and add to the decor without adding clutter.

Contemporary Living Room by Sydney Interior Designers & Decorators Darren Palmer Interiors

Where to Use Mirrors to Their Best Advantage

  • If you can hang a mirror opposite a window, go for it.  It will reflect the most light.
  • Using mirrors in living and dining spaces is the first choice, if possible. For example, reflecting the table in a dining room creates the illusion of double the food. That creates a feng shui symbol that signifies wealth and abundance.
  • Reflecting a pretty outside view brings energy into the room and it’s said that prosperity is signified by a reflection of water.
  • Placing a mirror in the entryway along with a chair or bench is a long-standing tradition. If the foyer is small, a mirror gives the illusion of space plus a place to check your appearance before leaving home.
  • Never place a mirror to reflect something unappealing…you don’t want to reflect a toilet in a bathroom or the trash container in a kitchen.
  • Never put a mirror on the ceiling…that’s just not classy!

Mirror Size and Shape are Considerations

So what size should you choose?  Well, it depends…

A large, floor mirror in between two windows gives the illusion of another window. But placing a large mirror across from a living room window is also a fine idea.

A round mirror will bring relief to a room that has an abundance of sharp corners.

Contemporary Bathroom by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers William Duff Architects, Inc.

Unique Ways to Use Mirrors

Put a mirror inside a bookcase.

A mirror propped against the wall on a fireplace mantle is a clever decorating technique.

Placing a mirror inside a non-working fireplace is a wonderful way to open up and bring extra light into a small room.

Think about using mirrors as a backsplash in your kitchen. Mirrored subway tiles, for example, are very popular and add a bit of bling, as well.

Placing a large mirror at the end of a narrow hallway will make the hallway seem not so closed in.

A recent online article in House Beautiful, 10 Unique Ways to Decorate With Mirrors, suggests using mirrors outdoors on a porch wall. It will make the space feel more like a room and at night, it reflects candlelight.

Two other suggestions from the article include layering a large empty picture frame over an even larger mirror over the fireplace and using mirrored wardrobes in a dressing area or bedroom.

 Mirrored furniture should be used judiciously but that’s an option, too. Mirrored end tables or chests are good choices.

Traditional Nursery by Dallas Interior Designers & Decorators Amy Lambert Lee,/center>

So there you go… just a few suggestions for using mirrors to maximize your small space!
If you’ve already used mirrors in a unique way, I would love to include your ideas, too.   And, as always, thanks for stopping by!
Cheryl K Logo





(Updated 9/1/2018)

SOURCES:, House Beautiful