Print Friendly and PDF

Decorating a bedsitter or shoebox apartment

I often receive enquiries from readers - young and old - asking for advice on decorating a bedsitter or shoebox-size single room apartment. While decorating a small space such as a bedsitter might have its limitations, with clever planning and by making use of available resources, there is no reason why a small bedsitter, flat or apartment can look just as good as a large one !


The fact is that it doesn’t matter how large or small the space is, once you add your own unique style or personality, you can create a comfortable, aesthetically appealing home.  

This article deals with decorating a small bedsit, flat or single-room apartment and how you can make this more of a home than just a place to live.

Clean up and store
The first step in designing your bedsitter or one-room apartment is to declutter the space. If you are designing a new bedsitter, perhaps a small cottage or converting a garage into a home, make sure that you allow for plenty of storage space. It might be small but you still have plenty of possessions.

Beds with pullout drawers or storage compartments - take up the same amount of floor space and offer loads of storage space for, blankets, bed lining, clothes or personal items. Add a storage headboard and you have even more storage for books, toiletries and small personal appliances.





A storage ottoman or bench - can be used for seating or as a table to hide away all your DVDs, CDs, magazine or books.

Room dividers - can be used to break up an open space and section off areas while providing ample storage space. With the clutter nicely sorted and stored you can create a focus point in your one-room apartment or bedsit.  

Utilise available space
When planning or designing a bedsitter or single room flat, make use of every single bit of space - both on the floor and up the walls. Wall space is so often ignored, yet this is one area that can be used to the fullest. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets take up limited floor space and offer loads of storage options. Pack often used items in the lower level and leave the top half of the cabinets for items that infrequently used, such as seasonal blankets and bed linen.

The personal touch
A bedsit designed without adding personal touches is a bland and impersonal space; it's a blank canvas waiting for the artist to create a masterpiece with colour, texture and interest. Just because it's small doesn't mean that you can't inject colour with paint or accessories.

Window treatments - Opt for blinds or louvres that allow in plenty of natural light and can be closed when privacy is required. Or choose light sheers as opposed to heavy drapes. It's small details like window treatments that will make the difference between a space that feels claustropobic or confined and one that is open and airy.

Flooring options - In a bedsit or flat with large expanses of windows, dark flooring won't make that much difference, but in a space with small windows, dark flooring will only serve to make the place appear visually smaller and gloomy. Where natural light is limited, select a light flooring that will refresh and enhance the amount of natural light and visually enlarge.

Furniture - While dual-purpose furniture is the best choice, it isn't always available in a variety of styles. If you can go the DIY route, then you will be able to make furniture to fit in with your needs. If you are simply moving your existing furniture into a smaller space, consider how the pieces can be modified to fit in. EG. Dark wood furniture can be painted in lighter colours and upholstered pieces can be slipcovered or re-upholstered.

Mirrors - Use mirrors as and where you can to create the illusion of space and light and can be used to reflect natural light into a room. A mirrored closet will create the illusion of width or length in an otherwise cramped-looking space.

When shopping for furniture you don't have to settle for less, it's more a case of shopping wisely; choosing styles that match, furniture that fits, and colours that enhance.

No bedsit, flat or apartment is finished without personal touches. This can be wall art, a collection of framed photos, collectibles or accessories. This is where your individual style comes into play and adds personality.

Think about using a small tablescape to add interest and a splash of colour to the space.