Design on a Dime for Small Spaces: PART 3

Design on a Dime for Small Spaces: PART 3

Design on a Dime for small spaces

This three part series walks you through the entire process of designing for a small space. Whether you are in the dorms, apartments or renting a house, this series will guide you through all of the steps from planning, to buying, to decorating. This is the last part of the series.



The best way to begin any design process is to make a game plan. The following steps can be completed in any order that works for you and is a general guideline to executing a stress free decoration process.


1. Find help
Chances are you’ve found one or more pieces that will be easier to move/hang with the help of someone else. If you haven’t bonded with your roommates, this may be the perfect opportunity. Ask them for help, it’s a great icebreaker and gives you something to talk about without having to think too much about it. If you’re already friends, then bribe them for their help with the promise of lunch on you afterwards!

2. Lay out items
Putting items in the areas in which you plan to hang, or place, them helps you manage the amount of “stuff” that you have collected on your shopping excursions. Even before you unwrap anything, this can give you a sense of whether or not the pieces you bought are too big or too small for the space.

Guide for hanging items

Photo from Pinterest

3. Photocopy the back of items for easy hanging
If you have a decor piece that has strange holes on the back, that is meant to help you hang the item more securely; instead of guessing or measuring, photocopy the back of the item instead and use the copy as a guide. Hold the photocopy onto the wall and nail through the paper. When the nails are in place, tear the paper off and you have a perfect layout of nails for your item to hang. (Hint: Follow the photo guide if this bit is confusing.)

Frames laid out

Photo from

4. Play around with layouts
Sometimes you’ll realize a piece you purchased for a specific wall will look better on a different wall, or different shelf. Don’t limit yourself to setting things up how you pictured them in your head. This goes back to the Tetris game we played from PART 1; you want to get a flow that works for you and maximizes your space.

5. Hide what you don’t like
In all housing situations, there can be parts of the room that can’t be removed or changed, but can be covered. If you have a circuit breaker, an easy way to hide it is by hanging a framed photo over it. Make sure that anything that needs to be serviced is easily accessible so maintenance can get to it without destroying your pieces.

6. Make it personal
Once you have all of your stock items in place, it may be nice to add some of your own DIY personal touches. If you’re artistic, make something nice to put in a frame and hang on the wall. If the thought of DIY scares you, talk to some of your friends and see if they want to volunteer to make something for you. It can feel like you’re living in a catalog if you don’t add something that is 100 percent unique.

Beautiful bedroom

Photo from

7. Sit back and enjoy your space


This is the final part of The Design on a Dime. Visit The Campus Crop to view PART 1 and PART 2 of this series, along with articles from other student writers. Any tips and advice you can add on to our list? Let us know using the hashtag, #CampusCropChat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.