Welcome to The Shoebox, Refinery29's small space advice column. With the help of Homepolish interior designer Mandy Cheng, we'll tackle all your cramped living woes — from where to store your stuff to how to make 500 square feet feel as open and unique as you are.
Question: Please help me with my cords problem. There are cords everywhere. The cords feel worse in a small space. I am drowning in cords. I have a cord mountain!
Mandy's Answer: The best approach is to organize and minimize. Untangle the cords so they all have a straight path, because jumbled cords create an even messier-looking bundle. Replace whatever cords you can with shorter versions to help minimize excess cord slack. For cords that you can’t replace, get hook and loop Velcro straps so you can neatly coil up the excess cable or you can strap them together into one covered bundle with a cable management sleeve If you’re willing to get crafty, cut a pegboard to size to create a back “wall." Run all the cables behind it. Use zip ties to secure everything neatly.
If that seems too labor intensive, Room & Board sells several options for cord management that can easily adhere to the back legs of your furniture. To keep all the cords from falling behind your desk or nightstand, consider purchasing a cable organizer. Make sure not to overload an outlet and use surge protectors when it makes sense.
Question: If you're living with one of those living room/kitchen combo areas (which also happens to be small) how can you decorate in a way that really separates the two?
Mandy's Answer: I definitely recommend starting with an area rug for the living room. Make sure that the rug is large enough to encompass all of the living room furniture. Add decorative elements that will make that living space feel comfortable and homey like artwork, plants, pillows, and throws. Don’t be intimidated to dress the space just because it’s small.
Also, depending on the layout, a piece of furniture like a sofa and console is another great way to delineate the two rooms. If the sofa back faces the kitchen, consider placing a narrow sofa console against it, or even a low bookshelf if you have the space.