Welcome to The Shoebox, Refinery29's small space advice column. With the help of Homepolish interior designers, 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. This week, we're seeking solutions from Mandy Cheng.
Question: "How can you decorate a patio space to maximize its function, even when it isn’t spring or summer? We have a super small patio space but we never use it because we don’t know what to put out there. Right now it’s just storage!”
Mandy's Answer: Don’t let a small patio intimidate you! Oftentimes I find that furnishing a small patio makes it feel much more spacious than when it was empty (or being used as a storage unit). If we’re talking about a condo/apartment balcony, which are notoriously small and feel like a fish bowl, consider turning the furniture to face inward so it feels like an extension to the room that it’s off of, and gives you a little more privacy. Measure the longest wall of the balcony and place a small, outdoor sofa against it. Add resilient outdoor plants and a propane fire pit if you’re allowed. String up some lights, or strategically place some dripless candles so you can use it at night.
If you can’t fit more than one chair on the patio, consider a hammock or hanging egg chair so it still feels blissful. Surround the space with varying height outdoor plants and lanterns/candles to give it some coziness and privacy. Get a small, portable heat lamp to get you through the colder months.
Question: "How can I give a small bathroom personality without overwhelming it?”
Mandy's Answer: Wallpaper is such a fun way to liven up a small bathroom, and is my favorite thing to do in a powder room. If wallpaper doesn’t work for your bathroom, consider replacing the tile with a more unique texture, pattern or color, and pair it with a complimentary paint color.
If you’re in a rental and can’t do any permanent changes, look into getting a fun shower curtain, even if it means splurging a little. Drape your bathmat over the tub when it’s not in use and put a gorgeous rug on the floor. If you’re fortunate enough to have a window in your bathroom, hang a plant in front of it — succulents tend to do really well in these types of environments.
If you don’t have a window, you can still hang a low light plant in there, but be sure to pull it down and give it some water and light as recommended by the nursery. And finally, hang some artwork! Make sure they’re prints and nothing that can get damaged from moisture or humidity, but a little artwork and a plant will really go a long way.