Before and After: A Small Bedroom Redo Uses Kitchen Cabinetry — and It Totally Works!

published Sep 11, 2023
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About this before & after
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Sometimes, the littlest spots in a homes make the coolest spaces for kids. Case in point: This closet-turned-nursery, this corner-of-a-master-bedroom-turned nursery, this cozy and cabin-inspired small bedroom, and most recently, this approximately 45-square-foot bedroom courtesy of interior designer Zahra Ali (@thearchieffect).

In this project, Zahra worked with a client to turn what was once a storage room (and a “dark and dingy” one with beige walls at only 71 inches by 91 inches) into a charming sleep space that doesn’t sacrifice on storage. “The condo belongs to a client who lives alone; it is a one-bedroom apartment,” Zahra explains — but the client needed a cool spot to host her daughter, so she turned to this space. 

“Creating a lot of storage was crucial to making it look organized as well as having a place for all her things,” Zahra says. Here’s how she maximized the small space.

Credit: Zahra Ali
Credit: Zahra Ali

New paint and patterned wallpaper ditch the storage room vibes. 

Painting it in Behr’s Ultra Pure White made a big difference in brightening up the space and helping it feel just a bit bigger. Zahra’s painting advice? Be extra careful when you’re painting a space with small square footage. “In such a small room, every tiny little mistake shows,” she says. 

Her white paint looks pretty flawless, but because she and the homeowner wanted the space to feel personal, they didn’t leave it only white. They added a pop of green (Behr’s Sanctuary) to the ceiling as well as floral wallpaper to cozy the space up a bit. Both details make it feel less like a laundry drop spot and more like a bedroom. 

Zahra notes that there’s a misconception that small rooms need to be as sparsely decorated as possible. “What I learned through this project was that the more details I added, the more the room opened up and became warm and cozy and inviting,” she says.

The floral wallpaper certainly makes the room feel more special. Now, it looks like “a small fairytale nook,” Zahra says.

Credit: Zahra Ali
Credit: Zahra Ali

Storage above and below conceals clutter. 

Of course, no bedroom can feel truly like a fairytale unless it’s clutter-free — no birds and mice or teacups-come-to-life required to help tidy things up. Here’s where, in this space, drawers below the bed and cabinets above the bed came to the rescue. 

“Instead of going for a Murphy bed that could be around $2,500 CAD, we opted for a smaller bed with storage drawers to have storage plus walkable space around the room,” Zahra explains. And even getting the twin bed in the space was a worry for Zahra, as the door opening is only 30 inches. “But we managed to do it quite easily,” she says. (Whew!)

There’s also storage by way of cabinetry along the ceiling, a great way to use vertical space, especially because Zahra initially thought the 71-inch wall was too narrow to do anything with. “We got special knobs for the overhead storage to make the unit look less like a bulk of mass on the head,” Zahra says. This also helps the storage feel more like a closet and less like laundry room storage. (That said, if Zahra’s client ever moves out, the cabinetry will be an asset if the room’s converted back to a storage space.)

Credit: Zahra Ali

A new light fixture and decor pack in the charm.

Lastly, to make the room feel more personalized, Zahra and her client added decor, a mirror, and a new light fixture. “The light was the hardest part,” she says. “We decided to put it up ourselves, and it was one difficult fixture.” (Although it was difficult, it sure is stylish. It’s a Wayfair find.)

Zahra says the mirror makes the room feel larger, and the decor and accessories make the whole space feel complete. “The dingy ghost of a storage room is the most delightful little guest room with a bed, some hooks, a mirror, a sweet lamp, and lots of storage,” she says.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.