For most, a rental doesn’t exactly connote daring decor decisions.
“A lot of people shy away from doing much to rentals because they feel that by being there temporarily, there’s no reason to spend money on changing the space,” says Samantha Penner, NY-based interior designer and the blogger behind The Peak of Tres Chic. “I disagree—I was able to update my space and add to it at a relatively low cost. Updating the paint and trim colors alone worked wonders.”
Following a move from Texas to New York City, Penner found herself faced with the unfortunate reality of NYC real estate: high rent prices and tiny square footage. Despite this, she found an Upper East Side apartment with two roommates, signed the rental agreement, and started work on turning a small bedroom into a space that felt more like her.
“I love color and pattern and I didn’t want to have to compromise that simply because my room was small. While many people might be drawn to minimalist pieces, I hope my room can provide proof that going bold is possible,” says Penner.
“Bold” is definitely the perfect descriptor for the finished room and en-suite bathroom. Vibrant colors, playful patterns, and statement-making pieces—peep the mirrored dresser—help turn the previously dark and small-space into a bright and airy bedroom infused with Penner’s signature style.
So how did she do it? According to Penner, downsizing is the first crucial step. “The process of downsizing taught me a lot—I had to channel my inner Marie Kondo and pare down my clothes, shoes, and sadly, furniture. Much to my surprise, I found the process of cleaning out and starting fresh revitalizing,” she says.
By taking more creative approaches to storage and decor, Penner believes you can get the room of your dreams without sacrificing style. Want to learn more about making the most of a small space rental? Read on for the blogger’s top tips for optimizing the space you have.
Place risers underneath the feet of your bed to accommodate under bed storage.
“I utilized Container Store’s Wide Under Bed Storage Bins to hold my additional bath towels, books, and off-season clothes. Then I had my favorite upholsterer (Victor Hernandez Upholstery in Long Island City) make me a custom bedskirt to hide the storage.”
Adjust your closet according to the season.
“Nothing stresses me out more than too many clothes packed together on a closet rod. You can’t see what you have available and the items in the back of your closet never get used! Since my closet was roughly 36″W x 24″D, I kept only seasonal clothes hanging up. In the summer, I carefully folded my winter clothes and boots and placed them in one or two of the storage bins underneath my bed.”
Pick a few high-quality functional furniture pieces that you absolutely adore and spend the money to buy them.
“In my room, as you can see, I only have 4 pieces of furniture: My full-size bed, my bedside table, my dresser, and my acrylic chair. Each piece has multiple purposes. The dresser not only stores my foldable clothes, pajamas, and bras/underwear, it also stores extra sheeting, scarfs, and gloves in the bottom drawer. Plus, the outside is beautiful and creates a statement when walking in the room.
The chair is perfect for putting my shoes on in the morning and I pull it up to a mirror on the back of my door when I apply my makeup and curl my hair. The bedside table has a drawer to hide small tech items, matches for my candles, and the book I’m currently reading while the two shelves underneath provide a place for me to display all the coffee table books I love. I opted for a full size bed rather than a queen to save 5″ of width, thereby allowing for more walking space in the room.”
If you have a bit of hidden floor space like I did in my closet, stack freestanding drawers or place a file cabinet to stow away important paperwork and documents.
“I stacked five of the Container Store’s Clear Sweater Drawers in my closet corner and placed my handbags in them. I liked the clear option because I was still able to see what was stored inside each drawer and I didn’t forget about the items when putting together an outfit. For my files, hardcopy design portfolio, and office supplies, I purchased CB2’s TPS 3-Drawer File Cabinet. ”
Do away with as much unnecessary items as you possibly can.
“If it doesn’t “spark joy” or truly make you happy, you don’t need it! To me, nothing feels more creatively stifling or frustrating than to be surrounded by too much stuff. Letting go of clothes I hadn’t worn in years and selling furniture that I only felt so-so about made me feel spiritually and physically lighter.”