How to Transform a Small Room

Let me tell you, I was sceptical at first. I thought this room was a goner. No chance of revival. A lost soul of a room.

Thank god my mother isn’t as cynical as me!

I was really moving in because of a few reasons:

  1. I knew all the roommates and they’re all super lovely. No random weirdos for me thanks very much.
  2. The location was perfect. Walk to work, walk into town, walk to the shops (dangerous). As someone who has had to use a lot of public transport, this was a dream.
  3. The house was fab. We’re talking red brick terraced house, stained glass windows, high ceilings, I’d like to buy this if I had the money fab.

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So I decided to just suck it up and do the best I could with the room. But me being me, I wanted to make it a nice place to live. Clean it up. A face lift if you will. So I said yes to the room (Like ‘Yes to the Dress’ but with people trying to find reasonable rent in a housing crisis), and got on with it.

Cut to me bringing my mom to have a look at the room a few days later. The guy who had been living in it had finally moved out, taking all his shit that was all over the floor with it, and I was finally able to see it in all it’s glory…

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Yeah we found damp and mould within 3 minutes of being in the room. The walls were swollen and stained black from the damp. It was a hot mess. We also realised that there was a fireplace in the room, where I had planned on putting a wardrobe. Yes, the guy before me had that much shit in the room that we hadn’t been able to see the goddamn fireplace.

Let’s cut to a few days later when I had gone into the room to clean it, after a serious self debate about whether I needed a hazmat suit or not. It took hours. Scrubbing walls, skirting boards, the fireplace, radiator, the window. It was vile. How do people actually live in that level of dirt?! Eventually, when I was close to passing out from the fumes of the cleaning products, I called it a day. This was followed by a painting trip in which my mom and I literally painted the entire room, top to bottom, including the window, ceiling, and skirting boards in an hour. Two coats too. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the room.

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The paint made a world of difference. I can’t even describe it. Once it was painted white, I could finally see the potential. If you’re trying to make a small room look bigger, my top tip would be to paint it white. If you don’t like white for some reason, then go for a very pale light colour, but white is best for opening up a room.

From there I bought white furnishings from Next and The Linen Company. Next does a great range of hypoallergenic sheets for your bed. If you’re like me and have sensitive skin, this is a brilliant option. I kept all other fabrics, like my curtains neutral. A simple light grey curtain from Ikea added a little colour to the room, without being too dark.

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For furniture, I bought a Billy/Oxberg bookcase. I love that it has glass doors which reflects the light, but will also force me to keep my shit clean and tidy. These Skubb boxesare key to keeping that all organised. I talk in the video above about the fiasco that I had trying to get it attached to the wall. I won’t go into detail here about it, it’s still too raw, but all I’ll say is, make sure you’re organised and not doing this on the hottest day of the year.

I’m a big fan of plants. I get this from my mother who is known for being something of a plant whisperer. I don’t know how she keeps an orchid alive for two years, but she does. She’s got me obsessed with having plants in my room. I’m obsessed with this hanging basket that I got in Ikea. The black actually works well in the room as it ties in with the fireplace and it’s a good contrast colour, in small doses. I haven’t got my act together yet and got a plant in it, so for now this fake leaf will do the trick.

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Prints and stickers are a really inexpensive way to update a room. I feel a bit basic bitch with these plant ones, but they’re pretty so I don’t care. I’m even more basic bitch with this dream print. It looks cute together, ok?! This world map sticker is amazing for people who live in rented accommodation who can’t put things on their walls. It doesn’t strip the paint and it’s easy to move around if you want to. I’m obsessed with it.

I think if I could boil it down to three ways to transform your room it would be this:

  1. Choose your colours carefully. If the room is small, white, or a very pale colour will work best. Choose accent colours, I’ve chosen green and grey, to diversify the palette in the room and keep things interesting. Cheap prints and plants can change a room so quickly.
  2. Play with the configuration and dimensions of the room. Move the furniture around, try out different things. You won’t know until you see the bed, table, couch in place. It can be tiring work moving heavy things around, but it can make a huge difference. Also, don’t have all your furniture at the same level or height. Mix it up with a tall bookcase, shelving, hanging baskets, whatever you need to draw your eye around the room
  3. Be clever with storage. I will eventually be adding under bed storage to make my life easier. Hanging things on the back of a door, organising things into boxes, having a shelf over the door, these are all simple things that can help you to regain floorspace and keep things manageable.

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I love interiors. I’ve loved changing up this room and making it my own. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a lick of paint and a few cheap things from Ikea! Don’t be afraid to experiment and to put your stamp on things. Next plan of action, tackling the garden and making it an amazing space to host parties. Watch this space!

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