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big ideas for small spaces who says size matters?
by Susan Johnston
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When I graduated from college, I couldnít wait to move into the real world and into a real grown-up apartment. I was through with sleeping on an extra-long twin bed lofted three feet in the air and of sharing a tiny dorm room with an almost-stranger. Unfortunately, living in an expensive city, I found myself living in a room whose square footage was less than that of my old dorm room. And did I mention it didnít have a closet? Oh, the irony!

But after hanging curtains and creatively positioning my furniture (kinda like a game of Tetris), the room gradually began to feel more liveable, cozy even. From sublets to studios, high-rises to single-family homes, my friends and I have experienced the gamut of urban real estate and picked up a few pointers along the way. Here are a few common housing situations and their decorating solutions.

the situation | Youíve finally moved out of the dorm and into your very own apartment. Well, technically, itís a studio with a kitchenette, and itís about the size of a shoebox. Houston, we have a problem...

the solution | Look on the bright side, at least with limited space, you wonít have to buy a ton of furniture and use up every penny from graduation (youíve probably spent a big chunk on broker fees and security deposits). What you need are a few small, space-efficient pieces to make your shoebox feel like home.

Repeat after me: futons are your friend. They are the perfect starter bed, because theyíre cheap and space-efficient. One caveat, though: do not buy the cheapest, lumpiest 12-inch mattress you can find. In this case, saving money could result in a raging case of insomnia that not even industrial strength Ambien will soothe. Try out different brands and thicknesses of mattress to ensure a decent nightís sleep. Then when you want to have friends over, just fold up the futon, rearrange your throw pillows, and lounge on your comfy couch. For extra seating, you can pick up a few folding chairs and store them in a corner until company comes. Padded slipcovers will transform those secondhand chairs from drab to fab.

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