Easy remedies for common design woes

Household 3 min read

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment or a small home you’ve likely encountered your fair share of home design woes. Lack of a foyer and boring bathrooms come to mind when I look back on many of my old apartments. Even with these design challenges it’s still possible to create an aesthetically pleasing and functional space. Here are some tips on how to remedy some of the most prevalent design challenges.

Lack of an entryway

When you’re short on space a traditional foyer often goes out the window. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s important to have a place to corral keys, mail, shoes, and other odds and ends that seem to collect just inside the front door. Thankfully there are a couple ways to tackle this problem. Hanging shelves are a great way to add extra surface without taking up any precious floor space. (Bonus points if you buy a wall shelf with a rail of pegs underneath for holding bags and coats.)

Console tables are the traditional entryway go-to, but if you don’t have room for one consider using a small round table (with tiers if you can find one) in a corner or a small bench to provide some surface space. Another thing I’ve done in our current home is place my key bowl and my sunglasses bowl on a large bookcase that straddles my entryway and living room. It doesn’t matter where you keep these organizational items but it’s so important to have a drop zone for keys, sunglasses, and mail so that things don’t end up scattered all over the house. Wall hooks designed for hanging keys are another practical option.

Shoe organization in a small entryway is always a challenge to figure out. If you happen to have a coat closet just inside the front door then consider adding an over-the-door hanging shoe rack just inside the closet. This is a great way to keep shoes off the floor and provide a little organization with minimal effort. A basket or rack for your most frequently worn shoes is another great option so that you can just grab and go as you head out the door.

Boring bathroom

Rentals are notorious for having boring bathrooms, but thankfully there are many ways to jazz things up a bit. Adding a colorful or textured shower curtain is a simple and affordable way to make an otherwise boring room pop. When it comes time to choose bathroom rugs, skip the contoured toilet mat (they scream “dated home”) and opt for rectangular rugs with a little visual interest. Texture can often be just as interesting as anything with bold colors or prints, so try to choose something a little more interesting than your traditional plush nylon bath rug sets.

Artwork is another way to make a boring bathroom more interesting. Over the toilet and above the towel bar are two traditional spots to hang art. Just be sure to remember that steam from the shower could possibly damage artwork over time, so it’s best to avoid displaying a priceless heirloom in the bathroom.

I also really like to add a small lamp to a bathroom if there’s enough counter space. It’s especially nice to use when you take a bath so that you don’t have bright overhead lights shining in your eyes. Candles, pretty trays, and displayed soaps are other great additions.

Kitchen that needs help

If you’re in a rental or don’t have the budget for a renovation you are limited by how much you can change. In some of my worst kitchens (our 115-year-old Army quarters comes to mind) I added countertop lamps for ambiance, displayed pretty cutting boards stacked against the backsplash, and used interesting dishcloths I had collected on previous travels. If you’re short on prep space consider adding a small kitchen island. Non-permanent kitchen islands are useful for a multitude of reasons and you can find them in hundreds of shapes and sizes. For a more labor-intensive transformation don’t be afraid to try using some removable wallpaper or a non-permanent backsplash.

There are countless options these days to mitigate common design woes, and you’re only limited by your imagination and the amount of work you want to do. Even the most dire situations can be transformed pretty quickly with a little elbow grease and an open mind, so do a little Pinterest perusing for inspiration and then get to work!

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