1 Room, 2 Ways: Style The Trickiest Room In Your House!

We consider ourselves pretty space-savvy, and we're proud of our home-sweet-homes. But there is one daunting design phenomenon (and terror) that seems to exist only in Chi-town: the awkwardly small extra bedroom. Our gorgeous, vintage buildings come with tons of charm, and also, a weird little space that feels like a brain teaser. It's not quite a bedroom, and not quite a coat closet. No matter how your landlord tries to spin it, and no matter how ambitious you are, that room is always a question mark. Until now. Let design pro Alaina Kaczmarski, of Live Creating Yourself, show you how to turn this space into something totally functional, which might just become your favorite room in the house. Whether you go the wardrobe route or the office route, you'll feel tons better after making this room your own. Problem solved.
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Room #1: Closet

While this small space might make a tiny bedroom, it also makes a huge closet. Alaina styles our small space first as the perfect place for a wardrobe.

Illustrations were drawn by the stylist, they are available on Etsy.

Dresser from The Brown Elephant, clothing rack from Container Store, vertical bookshelf from West Elm, Moroccan poof was a gift to the stylist.

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Room #2: Office

A smaller space can also mean a completely cozy (and inspiring!) place to work. Alaina turns a previously tricky room into a place to be productive.

Rug from West Elm, throw pillow from Fabricadabra, short bookcase from Ikea, narrow bookcase from West Elm, picture frames from the stylist's collection.
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Tip #1: "Find a dresser with deep drawers, this will help save space in Chicago apartments with notoriously small closets. Dressers can typically cost several hundred dollars, so don't be afraid to look at thrift stores."

Alaina refinished this thrift store find with one coat of primer and one coat of paint. Psst! There's also zebra-print wrapping paper lining the drawers!

"Use a laytex paint, oil-based paint is super messy and hard to clean off of your hands."
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Tip #2: "Fill your office with things that inspire you. Use a lot of color, your favorite books, images, anything that you love. I have the work of creative, talented women all around me and it inspires me to create great things every day."

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Tip #3: "Make use of all the space you have. Windowsills count too, especially since we keep them closed all winter!"

Drapes from West Elm.
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"I get so many compliments on this birdcage. I got it at the Randolph Street Market, which I cannot recommend enough. It is a great resource for Chicagoans styling their homes. It's packed with bargain finds."
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Tip #4: "Closet space in Chicago apartments can be nonexistent. A clothing rack offers tons more room, and it also offers you the chance to display pretty pieces. This adds to the look of the room and is functional. Keep sequin dresses or extra eye-catchy items toward the end of the rack."

Tip #5: "Vertical bookshelves are another great space-saver. Instead of just holding your favorite novels, they can hold most handbags, shoes, and other accessories. Don't be afraid to rethink its use."
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Tip #6: "Flip magazine holders around when you've got lots of loose papers or files to hide. Flip them forward to display your favorite magazines."

Tip #7: "My bulletin board is a DIY project, because I couldn't find a linen-covered cork board at a reasonable price anywhere. I bought an oversized cork board from the Container Store, and covered it with duct cloth. I used nail-head push pins around the edges. This is the perfect place to display things that inspire you." White magazine holders from the Container Store, canvass magazine holders from West Elm, wicker baskets from Ikea.
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Alaina Kaczmarski is a stylist and graphic designer. Check out her work and get in touch at Live Creating Yourself and LCY Graphics.