Projects & Improvements

Before & After: Embracing Minimalism in a Tiny Bedroom

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Submitted by Susan)

Susan’s teeny-tiny rental room didn’t offer much in the way of space or storage, but it did have a window to some of San Francisco’s charms. With some carefully calculated minimilasim, Susan was able to turn the room into a peaceful space, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

(Image credit: Submitted by Susan)

From Susan: I moved to San Francisco with a couple of suitcases and found a room that barely fit a bed and didn’t have a closet. This was before my Marie Kondo phase, which I’ve been a proud disciple of since last year. Being San Francisco, I knew I’d be living in petite spaces, so my stuff remained stored away at my parents’ home or in my sister’s closet. This room measured in around 7’x9′. However, it had a large window facing a fragrant magnolia tree and a clear view of Twin Peaks beyond. The wind would roll off the hills and coat my room with ocean fog.

Life in SF brought a lot growing up challenges, like trying to find my ground in a city that wanted to change and stay the same all at once. I had this room for nine months before the building was sold from a family who had lived there since the sixties to the second generation of tech buyers. I wanted this small room to inspire me and be a refuge.

My friend once slept on her floor for a summer — not because she had to, but because she felt like it was better for her back. That inspired me to live mattress-less and get a 4″ Japanese futon. After steam cleaning the carpet, I laid my futon on the floor and dressed it with soft white cotton sheets. Then I did a long search for a closet alternative and selected a souped-up garment rack with wheels. The open garment rack served as my garden and held my edited closet. I painted the existing shiny beige walls and trim a super white. The west-facing room became soft blue in the morning and ivory in the afternoon. My remnant life items were stored in three white enamel boxes that I stored under the garment rack. Luckily I could keep my suitcase in a hall closet. I really enjoyed my time in this space and I think the futon was actually good for my back.

(Image credit: Submitted by Susan)

This was a quick makeover — about two weeks from start to finish. The painting took two long nights after work. It took a little longer to assemble my garden and find the few pieces I have in the room. This room cost about $1,000 to put together and when I moved back to the East Coast I was able to sell all the furniture I didn’t want to bring back.

(Image credit: Submitted by Susan)

To make this space:

  • Benjamin Moore’s Nature Super White on the walls (A zero VOC paint was important to me) (2 pales of primer, 2 pales of paint, and supplies approximately $250)
  • CB2 white cotton curtain panels (2 panels and a curtain rod $100)
  • Vintage architectural lamp (gift)
  • Boll and branch sheets ($200)
  • Container Store metro garment rack ($200)
  • 3 white enamel 14″x14″x14″ boxes ($150)
  • 4″ futon and cover ($175)
  • Remnant mirror (free), tile samples (free)
  • Plants: Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata), Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum), Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), Aloe Vera, Alocasia Polly.

I love how bright and airy the small space feels. The room has tall ceilings, but you couldn’t feel the volume until I got rid of the old furniture and painted the walls super white.

(Image credit: Submitted by Susan)

Susan’s words of wisdom: This was a relatively simple renovation for a rental with flexible pieces of furniture you could move with you or easily sell. I would also ask your landlord if they are okay with you painting first.

Thank you, Susan! For more photos and information, check out Susan’s website.