Style & Shopping

My Bedroom Is Only 54 Square Feet — Here’s How I Made It Feel Bigger

published Jul 20, 2023
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Colorful background and sticker saying "IT'S GIVINGGGG". Photo of dorm room with collage of personal photos on wall, string lights, made bed
Credit: Isabella Hussar

For the past year, I’ve shared a house with seven fabulous girls. It has been as chaotic and exciting as it sounds, and we’ve bonded in the way only those who share one bathroom for every four people can bond. Although I’ve loved every The Bachelor watch party, weekday cry session, and late-night field trip from Rutgers University to New York City we’ve experienced together, having a space in this house that was just my own has been so important to me — even if it is only 54 square feet

When we signed the lease on our house, my friends and I decided the youngest person would take the smallest room — and as the resident “baby” of the group, that honor went to me. At first, I felt fine about this arrangement, but a week into living there, I began to panic over the small size and lack of closet. My full-sized bed literally took up more than half of the room, and combined with my wardrobe and three-drawer dresser, I was left with a mere five feet of unused floor space.

In order to thrive in these cramped quarters, I knew I needed to take advantage of my blank walls, which I realized provided an open canvas for my imagination. Maximizing this space in my bedroom has been an artistic challenge, but I’ve found ways to distract myself from the walls that, unadorned, felt like they were closing in on me.

Here’s how I did it.

Credit: Isabella Hussar

My Mirror

For starters, I learned the conventional wisdom is true: Mirrors really can give the optical illusion of expanding a room. I love the selection at Homegoods — the website doesn’t have the exact one I bought, but this one is similar, and it’s easy enough to switch the color of the frame with a couple of coats of furniture paint. I placed mine above my dresser, which doubles as my makeup and skincare space. I love the placement because it reflects the cute decorations I have on my opposite wall when I’m laying on my bed. I also use my mirror as a medium to display my own printed photos and silly stickers.

Credit: Isabella Hussar

My Art

As for the rest of the wall space, I went all in on art! In addition to some prints I’d received as Christmas gifts the year before, I ordered some pieces from Society6’s vast selection of pre-framed art created by independent artists. This Sun and Moon print is a personal favorite of mine, as well as this gem: I Am My Own Muse. I chose to showcase my largest art piece alone, on one wall, and made a trio of art prints across from it. (I recommend purchasing dorm-friendly picture hanging strips if you don’t want to create any holes in your walls.)

I also started using my walls as a way to manifest. I created a mood board filled with my own photos that spark joy and inspire me to create future success. (I printed mine from Walgreens for 16 cents each.) I styled them around a poster I bought at The Strand, a famous New York City bookstore, for under $10. I dream about living in New York one day, which is why I keep it at eye level — especially when studying for finals. It’s a reminder of what I’m working toward. If you’re looking for your own ways to manifest, Etsy has a vast selection of chic and budget-friendly posters.

Credit: Isabella Hussar

My Lighting

Finally, as a hater of the Big Light, it was crucial for me to have ways to create soft, ambient lighting. I feel you can never go wrong with warm white string lights; they make any space feel cozy and inviting on a small budget. The good old-fashioned holiday lights are my go-to for year-round decor — they’re easy to hang with Command hooks and give my room a cheerful glow (especially when combined with my cute little lamp that sits on my tiny bedside table).

No matter where I am in my room (the options are limited: laying on my bed, getting ready for the day next to my bed, or sitting — you guessed it — on my bed!), I’m surrounded by decor that makes me feel inspired and calm. In such a tiny space, this feels like a huge win for me.

Isabella Hussar

Journalism and Political Science

Isabella Hussar is an aspiring journalist at Rutgers University. She is published in Rutgers' Daily Targum and HerCampus, and works for Rutgers' School of Communication & Information. If she's not in her cozy college apartment, you can most definitely find her in New York, where she's trying a new restaurant or taking Instagram photos of her outfits.

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SchoolRutgers University '25
MajorJournalism and Political Science
FavesCats, coffee, "Gilmore Girls," cooking, travel, music, NYC
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