I Asked IKEA Designers What They'd Change About My Tiny Room

Updated 08/02/18
Ikea Bedroom Makeover
Fantastic Frank

When I moved from Los Angeles to New York, I went from living in a spacious apartment by myself to a cramped three-bedroom apartment. While this meant leaving most of my belongings behind and adjusting to life with way less square footage, it did offer some perks: I was able to start from scratch and get professional guidance about how to maximize a teeny room. And when it comes to smart, stylish home solutions, who could be better to turn to than a team of IKEA designers? 

So that's just what I did. After inviting over the IKEA Home Tour team for a quick consultation, they returned a few days later to help me install the essential items that'd give my bedroom a much-needed facelift. Working closely with Rocky Brewer and Genna Riggins, we isolated the problem areas and swapped them out with better alternatives. The best part is that these seven small-space decorating tips are easy to apply at home for your own IKEA bedroom makeover. Keep reading to see what they found to be the biggest problems and how to fix them for more efficient space with stellar feng shui.


LESSON #1: Bed Placement Makes All the Difference

Personally, I like cuddling up against the wall when I sleep, so I've always liked pushing my bed into corner nooks. I also always thought this made the room look larger. Wrong, very wrong. According to my designers, having a floating bed is usually a better option, even if it doesn't leave floor space for you to cram extra furniture into your room.

Lucky for me, the previous tenant sold me the existing bed frame and had wisely placed it in the center of the room, midway between the doorway and windows. As Riggins explained to me, this creates more balance and still leaves room for the dresser and a fun floor lamp that I brought with me from L.A. With the bed shoved into the corner, the placement of the other items would have looked awkward. 

IKEA Stockholm Rug $199
IKEA GJÖRA Bed Frame $359

LESSON #2: Floating Shelves Open Up Surface Areas

Even though there isn't much surface area to work with, I'm lucky to have high ceilings. Not only does this make the room feel less crowded, but it also offers up more storage solutions. "A major tip to maximizing tiny rooms is to use your vertical space," Riggins tells me. "By going up the wall with shelves, cabinets, and hooks, you gain storage beyond the floor space."

Before she came to the rescue, I was using a bulky storage unit and staring at blank walls. So "the biggest change [she] made was replacing the shelving unit next to the closet with" three rows of floating wall shelves. Then, we opted for a vanity table with a mirror and stool, proving that wall storage invites the opportunity for more usable space. 

IKEA EKBY Wall Shelf $18

LESSON #3: Choose Multipurpose Furniture

Riggins other major advice was "to have furniture that can serve more than one purpose, such as a stool that has storage." Personally, I use mine to sit on when I need to work from home and while I'm getting ready, as well as for storing my hair tools. A small desk with drawers can be your workspace when you need to get ahead on emails—or if you freelance and work from home a lot—can be a major game-changer. And if you place a mirror right above it, then you can comfortably get ready in your room instead of having to fight your roommates for the bathroom every morning.


IKEA VILTO Storage Stool $30

LESSON #4: Lighting Sets the Mood

I'm probably not alone when I say that natural lighting has a majorly positive effect on my mood and lifestyle. I'm lucky enough to have large windows, but that also means it's hard to sleep in the morning and difficult to get privacy. Though obvious, I can't overstate the importance of installing some quality blinds. Riggins recommended a double layered approach that meets my needs both aesthetically and functionally.

Since I wanted linen curtains to reflect my bedding, we installed rolling panel curtains behind them to effectively block out light and passersby on the street below. Riggins also suggested introducing two new lamps, one for the nightstand and another for the desk. 

IKEA Stockholm Table Lamp
IKEA FADO Table Lamp $20

LESSON #5: Think Open and Airy

Another thing that was important to me while styling my new bedroom was creating an open, upbeat energy. Since small spaces make that even more difficult to accomplish, I asked Riggin's for her advice. "When going for an open and airy space, choose light colors and light wood tones," she told me. She also suggested playing with textures and materials to make sure that it still felt rich with dimension without being overwhelming or chaotic in terms of the color scheme. 

IKEA AINA Curtains $60

LESSON #6: Show Off Your Wardrobe

My closet isn't incredibly small, but it is completely packed to the brim with clothing, which leaves very little storage space for all my accessories. And since I never have time to search high and low for a purse, hat, or belt, it made more sense to keep these things out in the open for easy access. She suggested mounting some chic hooks on the wall, which opened up space for my shoes in the closet. 

If you're not sure where to put them, Riggins has a little trick: "Take advantage of the spaces that otherwise might be wasted, like putting hooks behind a door and adding storage bins under your bed or sofa. By taking a second look at those areas, you can find a surprising amount of storage space without making the room feel cluttered."

IKEA SKUGGIS Bamboo Hook $5
IKEA VILTO Towel Stand $50

LESSON #7: Have Fun With the Little Things

My current bedroom simply doesn't offer up as much creative freedom as my previous home did, so when push came to shove, I decided that an open-feeling, minimalist approach was more important than letting my personal style shine through. Coming to terms with this was crucial, otherwise, I'd be in a pattern-packed room that was cramped with too many knick-knacks and bulky furniture, which would be a pretty overwhelming place to rest in.

That being said, I found small ways to bring in my personality. For example, my favorite accessories are hanging on the wall hooks in plain sight, my colorful décor and personal photos adorn the floating shelves, and I had fun picking out new throw pillows and bedding that still felt on-theme. 


Take a Peek Inside My Room Makeover..

Looking for more advice from interior designers? Here are nine small-space decorating tricks that designers swear by. 

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