Living in a dorm room or small apartment is part of many people's lives at some point, but these decorating tips can help you escape the confines of a cramped room. Although you might feel doomed to live in a tiny white box with beige carpet, you can in fact make big changes to your small space without spending a lot of money or doing anything permanent. Paint, wallpaper, shelving and dressers, and furniture can all make a difference in the look and feel of your room.
The fastest way to transform an apartment is with paint, so if your landlord will let you, add a splash of color. Dark tones can make an already small apartment look smaller, so aim for bright yellows, pale blues and other light, uplifting shades. If you can't paint the walls, consider painting the trim around the doors, floor and ceiling with a vivid latex paint. These are easily repainted with a base coat of primer when you move out.
You can also create temporary wallpaper with lightweight cotton fabric and liquid starch. Apartment Therapy suggests pinning the fabric to your wall from floor to ceiling with push pins, then sponging or spraying the fabric with undiluted starch. When it dries, remove the pins and enjoy your "wallpaper" until you become tired of it or until it's time to move out. Any overlap will trim easily with scissors or a utility knife once the fabric is dry. When you're ready to remove your fabric wallpaper, peel from the corners and wipe the bare wall with water to leave it good as new. The fabric can be washed and reused.
One hazard of living in a small space is allowing it to become even smaller by piling your belongings in the corners. If you find yourself left with a small circle of living space in the middle of your studio apartment, you need effective storage solutions. Use the space around the ceilings to its full potential with inexpensive wall shelves or cabinets. Enlist high-up wall space for keeping seldom-read books, off-season clothing and any other infrequently used items off the floor. Other storage options that work well in small spaces are nesting tables, cubbies under stairwells, captain's beds with drawers and tall, narrow shelving.
Turn a walk-in closet or tiny nook into an office space with a curtain and a built-in desk. Mount a wide shelf on the wall to use as a workspace, without the cumbersome legs of a table. Use wires with a wall-mounting bracket on either end to take the place of bulky curtain rods. Draperies slide into place easily to cover clutter when guests drop by and help give those who work at home a sense of separation of work and living space.
Where you sleep also plays a role in the amount of space you have available. Consider a Murphy bed, which folds into a wall cabinet during the day, or a grown-up version of a futon. Look for a sofa bed that lays flat at night but folds into a legitimate couch during the day. Store a roll-up foam mattress in the closet if you need extra padding on your bed at night.