So, you have a small living space and you don’t know what to do it. Whether it’s a small studio, your first condo unit, or even just your childhood bedroom begging for a makeover, utilizing a small space and making it functional and pleasant is no easy task, especially if it’s your first time tackling a do-it-yourself home project. Luckily, we’ve got a few handy tips to help maximize and decorate your space.

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Start with the foundations

A solid foundation is key to making sure that everything goes off without a hitch. It helps to begin by looking at your area—how it’s constructed, the positive elements of its design—and going from there. Does your room have inadequate space, but remarkably high ceilings? Or maybe you have a large window and beautiful hardwood floors? Identify elements that you love about your room and try to highlight them in your design.

Choosing the right color of paint for your walls is also important in helping open up a space and making it feel brighter. Using a light color, like off-white, cream, or even a nice baby blue, will bring in more light to the area and create the illusion of a bigger space. A large mirror, when placed in a strategic area, can also “reflect” back on the room and make it look much bigger than it really is. And of course, bringing in as much natural light into your area as you possibly can will really maximize the look of your space. Try to opt for light-colored curtains or blinds or doing away with window treatments entirely.

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Invest in double-duty pieces

Reconfiguring your space to be multifunctional is essential. Invest in pieces that can be used in more than one way and will best fit your space and your lifestyle. A daybed is a great example, as it can be a couch in the daytime and a comfortable bed at night. A nice dresser can double as a nightstand for your room.

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Keep everything in its place

The golden rule of making your space livable is learning how to stay organized. Keeping your room clutter-free and ensuring that everything has a place will make things so much easier.

Utilize every inch of available storage space that you can. Clear drawers and boxes can be hidden under your bed or couch to hold your possessions. Make use of your walls by installing hooks and shelves to hold items.

And most importantly, don’t forget to clean! Arduous as it may be, cleaning regularly and putting things back in their proper places will help make your space look brighter and bigger.

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Don’t be afraid to experiment

Home design is an endeavor of trial and error. What works for someone else may not necessarily be the best fit for you. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make an area your own.

You can do this by showcasing your interests and making them a focal point. Show off your collection of action figures or hang a few paintings you’ve created. Whatever you do, make sure you put your own stamp on your space. Trust your gut and do what’s best for you to make your space feel like a home.

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This article was first published in our September 2015 anniversary issue.

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