Looking for tips for decorating small spaces? Here are some design plans and ideas and inspiration for making small spaces live big.

I found this picture of one of the twins’ first bedrooms in a long-ago post written on this blog when they were still singing Hannah Montana songs.

Two little brown monogrammed beds.

Two nightstands.

Two sets of curtains.

And one amazing, incredible dollhouse full of all the furniture a Barbie could ever wish for.

And when I look at it?

I want to cry and cheer all at the same time.

Because those tiny blue-eyed blonde-haired birds are once again leaving the nest. Instead of a pink and brown bedroom with matching beds and flowers on the rug and brown and pink polka dotted lampshades?

I’m decorating two college apartments.

Here are our design plans and all the tips for decorating small spaces and making those small spaces live big.

tips for decorating small spaces pink room

tips for decorating small spaces flower

tips for decorating small spaces pillows

tips for decorating small spaces ottoman

One last look at that brown and pink bedroom from all those chapters ago.

Just between us?

It’s hard to say goodbye. And if you will indulge this mama’s heart, here is one of my very favorite stories that I wrote about this room.

You can read it here.

But that was then. This is now.

A new chapter is waiting to be written.

Each of the twins are moving into a separate apartment with their sorority sisters. That means two bedrooms to decorate and two rooms to get ready and two spaces to design.

Here are the design plans and what we’ve ordered for each of the spaces.

I’ll show you the pictures after they move in this week.

If you are planning on decorating a small space like this. Here are some of my favorite tips.

9 Tips for Decorating Small Spaces

1. Don’t forget about the vertical space. Take advantage of vertical walls by hanging the curtains above the curtain frame and using shelves to store things. We are adding extra shelving to Whitney’s closet and putting the dresser in the closet.
2. Keep it simple. When decorating a small space, it’s important not to overcrowd the room. Choose a few key pieces and stick to a simple color palette.
3. Add a mirror. Mirrors make a space feel larger than it is. Place them opposite windows or in other strategic locations to reflect light and create the illusion of more space.
4. Let in the light. Natural light can make even the smallest room feel larger and airier, so make sure to keep your windows clean and free of clutter.
5. Add some green. Choose low-maintenance varieties that thrive in small spaces, such as succulents or air plants.
6. Be smart about storage. When picking out furniture for a small space, look for pieces with built-in storage or that serve multiple purposes. For example, we have a tiny ottoman by the chair to store extra blankets and books.
7. Use bold colors sparingly. A little bit of color goes a long way in a small space. Too much can be overwhelming, so stick to one or two accent colors and use them sparingly throughout the room.
8. Make use of empty wall space. Decorate with artwork, photos, or even shelving units.
9. Small spaces can be challenging, but they also present an opportunity to get creative. Think outside the box and experiment with different design techniques until you find a style that works for you.

Here’s the design plan for Whitney’s room.

She requested two things: Boho and pink. We are reusing most of the stuff from her dorm room and I wanted to order anything else we needed and have it shipped so we didn’t have to hire a moving van. The iron bed was all her idea. It reminds me of my first bed and I love the traditional and classic look of it juxtaposed with the distressed look of the rug and the pom pom bedding. We also ordered a leather desk chair (that I forgot to link here) and added tons of texture to the space with seagrass baskets and rattan pieces. Westleigh is amazing at calligraphy, so she’s going to letter some quotes for Whitney’s wall.

Here are all the sources linked.

Boho Apartment Bedroom

  1. This pink and white rug
  2. Two white gourd lamps
  3. This white rattan dresser
  4. White bookcases
  5. Super soft leopard throw
  6. Khaki and white striped curtains
  7. Gold curtain rods
  8. Gold curtain rings
  9. Seagrass basket
  10. Distressed boho rug
  11. Pom pom bedding
  12. White iron bed

Here’s the design plan for Westleigh’s room.

It looks similar to Whitney’s (please act surprised). Once we found the rug, everything else fell into place. Her room has more pink and less khaki than Whitney’s. We went with a wood bed frame in the room and layered in lamps and baskets and a gold velvet desk chair. We are reusing most of the stuff from her dorm room, including the gold curtain rod and gold curtain rings. She is currently also shopping this house as I’m writing this post. 🙂

Here are all the sources linked:

Blush & Cream Bedroom

  1. Peachy clean bathmat
  2. Pink corduroy pillows
  3. Gold and white dresser
  4. Maple bed frame
  5. Pink and white distressed rug
  6. Gold curtain rods
  7. Seagrass shade lamps
  8. Waffle weave throw
  9. Rattan dresser
  10. Pink shower curtain
  11. Pink and white rug
  12. Gold curtain rings
  13. White rattan cabinet
  14. Pom pom bedding

All of my tried and true dorm essentials linked here

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Lisa Lisa

    Oh, my, Karianne. I totally remember these brown and pink polka dot window treatments against the very pink and paisley backdrops. I totally recall admiring this room and thinking what a perfectly appointed little girls room it was. Pink and brown was all the rage. Back then, this was everything. We’ve all beautifully evolved in our designs in decor and I know the new college-era spaces will be styled beautifully too, to reflect your girls’ wishes and personalities. Looking forward to the new double reveals. Good luck and happy day to you. xoxo

  2. Image for Lyn Lyn

    Isn't shopping on-line and having it delivered simply the best thing since sliced bread?? Years ago when our daughter was in under grad my husband was out of town M-F for work. I remember one year in particular loading a SUV late at night, the next morning going to an early morning doctor appointment for a procedure that they said to keep laying down for 10 minutes afterwards. Well, my feet hit the floor within seconds. I then drove 90 miles with that loaded SUV, unloaded it, and then drove the 90 miles back to work! After 2 years of that I told her to get her friends to help load her car and get a rental unit so that fall she could go back to get everything. She was in an on-campus apartment at that time, but still had to vacate it in the summer. I highly recommend the rental unit solution.

  3. Image for melissa melissa

    So EXCITING to get to do this for your daughters. Thank you for sharing the great dorm essentials also. We will be checking into the white and gold dresser that matches a grand-daughters decor perfectly!

  4. Image for Teresa Teresa

    Darling story from the girls' younger days! Mine have all flown the nest now, and I so miss those sweet days with storybooks and stuffed animals and Legos. Your girls are lucky to have such a talented mom to help them set up their apartments, too.

  5. Image for Kim Hume Kim Hume

    Oh, how fun!! Westleigh and Whitney are going to have such beautiful homes away from home thanks to their amazing mama!! I hope they both have an amazing year!!


    Your precious girls are just going to love their dorm rooms! KariAnne, I know you will have their rooms looking so beautiful! Your girls love you so much for all you do for them! Hope they have a great year!

  7. Image for Linda Scott Linda Scott

    Such lucky young ladies to have such sweet rooms. I have 3 that went to off to college and each one was lots of work but lots of fun!! Can't imagine 2 at the same time!! Double the fun but double the packing and unpacking!! Oh well, have a blast bc it goes by so fast as you already know!!

  8. Image for Barbara Loyd Barbara Loyd

    Love the pink wall decor, did you use stencils? I have been asked to paint flowers on concrete tables in the Master Garden in our town. Stencils would be quick to use. I plan to coat the tables with gesso first then paint the flowers with acrylic paint then allow that to dry then coat the art with polymer varnish. Any advice you could pass along to me would be helpful. I figure you and your husband have tackled a problem similar to mine, y'all are DIY geniuses. Thanks in advance for your brain storms!

  9. Image for JC JC

    So pretty, cozy, and functional! A home away from home for them! The years do go fast, don't they? Enjoy this chapter, friend.

  10. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I love all of their choices! And I love that they have their Mama’s taste in the selections and can still find a great $30 piece to add in. That, in itself, is a beautiful balancing act to teeter between both. Your stamp etched in them, friend. Hope the semester is settling in a littler softer for your Mama’s heart.

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