How To Make Your Tiny Bedroom Feel Like A Studio

We're always on the lookout for tips to make our cramped bedrooms feel more spacious. Sometimes it's a matter of finding smart storage hacks, or getting new Ikea furniture that help maximize space. But in other cases, a total renovation is in order.

That's the scenario Sean Santiago found himself in, when his two roommates (and two cats) moved out of his shared two-bedroom apartment in Fort Greene. The founder of one of our favorite indie magazines, Cakeboy, (and full disclosure, former R29er) decided to switch to their light-filled room with one main objective: The bedroom, which is less than 100 sq. ft., also needs to feel like a work studio to fit his lifestyle as a freelance photographer and creative director.

We've asked Santiago to unload all the interior decorating wisdom he's learned from this project. Click through to see more photos of the room makeover, and learn how you can apply it to your small sleeping quarters. To find out where Santiago sourced his beautiful furniture, head to his interview on Sight Unseen.

Photo: Courtesy of Sean Santiago.
This was Santiago's bedroom before the makeover. The room is under 100 sq. ft, with a double bed. Santiago downsized to a single for the purpose of freeing up more space.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
This is Santiago's room after the transformation — the difference is day and night, isn't it?

"I wanted to create a room within a room — a sanctuary that serves multiple purposes and is effective in helping me switch between brain functions." Read on for the decorating tricks he used to for the makeover.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
Repaint Your Room

"It's crazy how big of a difference a fresh lick of paint can make: It really cleans up the space and provides a brand new canvas to work on," says Santiago. He painted the room by himself and opted for a light sea foam green shade. "I know I was bringing in brass accents, and they pair very well with minty colors."
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
Use A Dining Table Instead Of A Desk

Instead of shoving a work desk up against the wall, Santiago used a round dining table from a Danish design brand.

"I don’t want to be looking at wall all day: A dining table gives you space to stretch around, and you can instantly adapt a totally different look by adding a table skirt, linens or runners."
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
Mix Your Woods

Wood tones are very neutral, and you can mix different finishes to create a more inviting vibe. Santiago started with the bed — as it's the most important foundation piece for the entire bedroom — and purchased a headboard made of cherry wood. The table is made of oak, and Santiago stacked a wooden stool on top of an antique chest as a nightstand.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
Invest In A Plant Collection

"Plants draw your eye up and out, creating a sense of scale and coziness," says Santiago. For his bedroom, Santiago curated an indoor plant collection in varying sizes to keep things dynamic — from a tiny plant on a small ceramic dish to a large palm placed on a birch stool.

Staggering the heights of the plants is great way for the eye to travel up and down — and instantly add more dimension to the room. Santiago also used terracotta pots to house his greenery, since they're inexpensive and the reddish tones evolve and deepen as the plants get watered constantly.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
Frame Your Artwork

Santiago brought in a number of pieces for the gallery wall, from vintage stills found at a flea market to a textile art piece. "The key is to get everything framed: It change how you react to the piece, and makes everything look more adult instantly." He also suggests breaking up the placement of the paintings — it brings visual interest and looks less deliberate than a perfect alignment.
Photo: Courtesy of Emily Johnston.
Use Open Shelving

Open shelving units — such floating shelves and ladder shelves — are great storage solutions if you're tight on space. Plus, they will forces you to pare down your belongings to items that you really want to display in your diorama.
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