Let’s face it: Penn dorm rooms are tiny. This is only exaggerated by the fact that, more often than not, they are occupied by more than one person—which means more than one bed. There are only so many ways to organize such a small space before it becomes congested with belongings. As easy as it may be to grimly accept the the clutter, it's simpler than you may think to create a room with an intimate, cozy feel rather than a crowded one. Here are nine tips on maximizing a small space that can help to create the illusion of some extra square footage. 

  1. Install a few mirrors

Mirrors create the perception of a much larger space and double the natural lighting. Since mirrors reflect a portion of the room, they make the space feel less cramped. The extra light mirrors create affords buoyancy and life to a previously heavy and crowded room.

2. Less is more

Don’t draw attention to a tiny space by overcrowding it or making clutter visible. A room jam–packed with decor makes it look as if there isn't enough space to fit everything comfortably. On the other hand, a clean shelf or table tells the eye that there is ample space. Don’t overburden open shelving with dozens of disparate knick–knacks.

This also goes for wall decor. A wall completely covered with photographs of friends and family is beautiful, but doesn't serve to increase room size, if that's what you're looking to do. A statement tapestry or art piece would be ideal for extending your wall and making it look longer.

3. Raise your bed

Tall furniture can appear to heighten the ceilings of a room, but more importantly, it provides additional storage space under your bed, where it can’t be seen from under your comforter/blanket. Maximizing vertical storage space like this works to declutter.

4. Utilize light colors

It’s a no–brainer that lighter colors add light to a room. Continuation of wall color into the ceiling color helps to “raise” the ceiling by making the distinction between the two unclear. Presumably, though, most students are not asked what color they would like the walls of their room to be. You do, however, have control over your decor. Choose white or light accent pieces.

5. Pick up a minimalistic rug

Adding a simple, unpatterned (or minimally patterned) rug pulls a space together without adding to the clutter. If the floors of your dorm are tiled or otherwise barren, a rug will help to bring life to a room and put the floor in conversation with the rest of the decor. Having a rug that matches the lightness of the room will extend the room's length, too. 

6. Invest in long curtains

Floor to ceiling curtains make the ceiling look higher. Specifically, sheer drapes are typically best. They allow light in and even a view out the window without forsaking privacy or style. Lengthy drapes that coordinate with the rest of the room work—perhaps more than anything else—to pull the room together. 

7. Perfect your storage methods

Tasteful storage bins or other storing methods can declutter the room, and even add a decorative touch to it—if you do it right. Clear bins aren't the best choice—they reveal the haphazard belongings within, which muddles the look of the space.

8. Hang your lights

If at all possible, hang any extra lighting you may have. Decorate with fairy lights or magnetic lighting rather than a large lamp that may look out of place (unless it can be tucked in a corner or other such space). Again, you're trying to avoid clutter; big pieces like floor lamps will only add to it.

9. Keep your "look" consistent

An incoherent space makes a room look much smaller than it already is. Decide on a specific “look” for your room and stick to it with your curtains, rug, and wall decor. Keep all three of these as simple as possible. Compatible colors and style will ensure smooth transitions from one section of a space to another. 

If you want to make the most of a minuscule space, take advantage of the natural lighting, shelf space, and other included features and work them to your advantage. Decorating a small area is all about drawing the eye to the vertical and and avoiding clutter. Try to deliberately choose decor for the space with the size in mind. Happy decorating!

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