room within a room

Small apartment hack: room within a room

Being stuck in a small apartment doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice having a decicated space to get shit done

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There are lots of sacrifices that you have to make living in an apartment versus a house, most of them involving space. And you know that a good small apartment hack is much needed to make small-time living possible.

The importance of differentiation

I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so there obviously isn’t a free room to set up an office in. And as a blogger, a solid workstation is a necessity.

What I’ve done before is just shoved a desk in the corner of my bedroom and called it good. And guess what happened.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I hardly ever touched that desk chair unless it was to put on shoes or something. Yeah, there were many things that prevented me from getting work done at that desk (i.e. how comfy my bed is) but I think a huge part of it was that there was not a single bit of differentiation between the “office” area of my room and the sleeping area. In my last room, the desk was quite literally just wedged right between my bed and the wall.

So this time around, I said to myself, “self, you may not have a whole room for an office, but who says you can’t create a room within a room?” And that’s what I did in my living room.

Don’t get me wrong, the urge to just sit on the couch is still there, but the conscious differentiation between the two areas really does help to make them feel different and helps me achieve a little more focus.

If you’re in the same boat where you want an office, makeup area, etc. but don’t have an extra four walls to shove it in, read on to find out how to hack it, using my DIY office as a template.

different lighting

White cylindrical hanging light with gold insides and scalloped design

This was my first small apartment hack I did to carve out my office space within a space. You could do something as simple as a table lamp that projects light upward (i.e. no lampshade), but I love the way this hanging lamp shines down on my desk area like a spotlight.

Rather than only being covered by the lighting that shines on the rest of the room, this area has its own dedicated light source.

If you’re going with a hanging light source and don’t already have a hookup for overhead lighting, make sure you go with one that plugs into the wall and hangs from the ceiling. If you get one that needs to be hardwired, it’s a lot more work and may not be renter-friendly.

With this plugin pendant, you can throw any shade on top. This is the shade that I bought. If you wanna find any other ones, you can literally just google “plugin pendant lights.”

box it out

white cubbies with orange top separating a blue couch from a black desk

If your desk is just shoved right against your bed or couch, of course it’s gonna feel like it’s just smushed in the same room. Something as simple as this little cubby shelf helps to make the two separate areas seem intentional. It’s like a mini, non-intrusive wall.

If you have space, you could even go with a full wall divider. I recently saw this amazing DIY “glass” wall divider by The Sorry Girls on YouTube that would be so fun to try out if I had space.

photos, mirrors, accessories

Desk with assorted accessories hung on the wall, including a dry erase board, small round mirror and a cork board with the outline of Michigan on it

Giving the area its own little gallery that is distinct from the rest of the room can really go a long way for making it feel separate.

If I left the wall blank or continued themes from the other part of the room, all of the wall space just blends together. But by hanging and placing these unique objects here, it centers the focus in the “office” space.

In this case, it’s partly practical, too- the cute dry erase board can be used for little reminders to myself as I’m working at the desk, and the filing system and is obviously really useful for keeping my paperwork organized.

paint it!

I did not execute this small apartment hack in this specific area. But one of the easiest ways to make your little area seem like a separate room is to paint it. This gives you a literal solid line marking the boundary between the two.

If you’re renting and can’t put real-life paint on the wall, removable wallpaper is super renter-friendly and relatively easy to put up. Or, I mean… go my route and just paint your walls/doors and hope your landlord won’t notice. Just paint it back before you move out. 😀

Small orange table and chairs with an orange triangle painted "spotlight" on the wall beside them

Hope this helps to spark some inspiration for creating your own room within a room! If you use any of this advice, feel free to tag me on instagram @homeyhomies. I’d love to see it!

keep it homey, homies

About me

Hey my name’s Hannah Michelle Lambert, the voice behind homey homies. I’m an LA-based designer, writer, and content strategist. I’m passionate about the intersection of productivity and creativity. I love talking about creative habits, technology, processes, and everything in between that helps me blend the Type A and Type B parts of my brain.

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