Overcoming an Awkward Space: Smart Solutions from a Charming Rental Bedroom

published May 17, 2017
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(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

If your current rental bedroom situation is awkward, lacking storage, or just bland then check out how Erin Walsh turned her funny-shaped bedroom into a highly functional and relaxing oasis.

In writing about the inspiring ways renters fix up their rentals, I will sometimes get dinged for featuring rooms that already “have great bones”—meaning the renters had a decent space to begin with, which I agree makes both customizing and decorating much easier. In Erin’s case, her rental bedroom, while bright and clean, has a rather wonky floorplan with dormer ceilings that make extra furniture or external storage (like a wardrobe) challenging. She also has no proper closet and not much space for more than a bed and dresser. So more like intriguing-if-a-bit-frustrating bones. Yet, Erin’s smart choices in decor and storage are savvy enough to provide takeaways for all of us.

Takeaways from Erin’s Rental Bedroom

(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

Erin moved from a 3-bedroom house in Buffalo to a 1-bedroom coachhouse in Nashville. The biggest challenge, according to Erin:

“Definitely storage. Now that I work from home, I spend a great deal of time in here so I need it to be functional but comfortable and not feel as if it’s closing in on me.”

Work with What You Have

(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

Erin does not have a closet and, as you can see, the sloped ceilings and the presence of a sink(!) greatly limit her ability to store vertically, so she did some strategic thinking in order to maximize storage without crowding her room.

(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

Erin worked around the spatial limitations of her sloping ceilings by bringing in the compact Niche Dresser from West Elm and a small-scale table lamp for additional lighting. She also emphasizes the coziness of her bedroom’s architecture by bringing in extra floor pillows—perfect for lounging.

(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

For additional storage, Erin customized a shelving unit to store clothes and shoes and also made a closet-style garment rack in a receded cubby—something I would not have thought to do but works really well.

I think some larger takeaways here are 1) To find solutions you have to first embrace your rental. Once you stop day dreaming about the next better place in the future, you can start thinking strategically about how to optimize the home you have now. And 2) We can find attractive and functional ways to store our clothing (or general stuff) out in the open. If we don’t have closets, we don’t have closets. And that’s Okay!

Additional Clothing Storage Ideas

(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

Erin turned the sloping ceiling situation in her bedroom into a non-headboard bed frame by arranging decorative pillows agains the back wall as she would a headboard—and it works.

Go With Your Heart and You Can’t Go Wrong

Erin created a calm and pretty bedroom environment using simple decor elements that she loves and that are personal to her. This is such a nice example of how important it is to decorate our bedrooms in a way that makes us feel good—this involves implementing decor and belongings that are beautiful to us specifically. For Erin, that looked like:

  • Plants: Erin noted that she’s a self-proclaimed plant addict and “wanders down to the local flower shop at least once a week.” Her use of plants and fresh flowers brightens her bedroom while adding organic texture and color that she loves.
  • Dream catchers: Erin is an artist and hand-crafted the leather dream catchers that adorn her walls as personal and beautiful artwork.
  • Elements of nature: “Nature has been the biggest inspiration for me in my creative work and my living space. I really appreciate organic materials; the colors, quality and textures.” Along with plants, Erin’s simple color palette, Indigo shibori throw, and framed Joshua Tree print—echo her love of nature.
(Image credit: Lisa Diederich)

By using a less-is-more approach and focusing on what makes her happy and works within the context of her space, Erin turned the interesting but potentially frustrating bones of her rental bedroom into a beautifully personal retreat.

If you’re feeling Erin’s bedroom, don’t miss the rest of her charming Nashville home.