How to Style a Bachelor Suite (So It Doesn't Feel Like One)
When I moved back to Canada(from Nicaragua) I grabbed the first empty apartment that came up in the part of the city I wanted, which meant I ended up in a bachelor suite. I figured I would just upgrade to a one bedroom as soon as I found one - beggars can't be choosers, right?At the time I was relying mostly on charity from friends and family to furnish any apartment I found, so really the smaller it was the easier that task would be as well. I assumed I'd "make do" for six months or a year and then upgrade.
I Was Wrong
But man, was I off base! I LOVE my little apartment!
I love that there's no bulky walls making it feel closed in and that there's less to clean. I love the way all the donated pieces from friends and family make me feel loved and have allowed me to focus more on buying smaller, personal pieces instead of having to save every penny to purchase basic, bigger items.
I love that the smaller space has forced me to get creative and learn to let go (which I've been doing anyways, over years of moving abroad).
All in all, having a bachelor(ette) suite has been the absolute best thing and I encourage you to consider it next time you're apartment hunting.
Another bonus? They're always cheaper!
All that said, you will want to find some creative ways to make the space seem roomy and comfortable, especially when hosting.
I identified 6 key steps I took to ensure my place feels like a lovely home:
Try them out in your own bachelor suite, studio, one bedroom, or any home at all and let me know what you think.
If you try any of them, send pictures! I can't wait to see what you create.
Photos by Andy Nichols
Think about "rooms" that you can create using strategically placed furniture or styling. People used to employ pretty room dividers for this purpose (I, in fact, once did), but I encourage you to avoid that if at all possible. Leave the space open and find more creative ways to define the spaces!
I chose to define and create a bedroom and a living room because I really wouldn't use a kitchen/dining room as much as those two (I later added a tiny workspace-meets-dinette).
You might choose an office over a living room or some combination. The choice is yours, but you can get a little expansive with the idea.
Don't be afraid to carve out multiple uses for something - a small dining table pushed against a wall makes a great desk and something you can pull out later if you have guests over. Likewise, a bench can serve as a coffee table or extra seating. A plant stand makes a great side table in a small space and an ottoman does triple duty as a coffee table or extra seating. You get the idea.
buy what you love, take what you get
Only pay full price for items you really, truly love. Buy everything else with the "fun and functional" mindset until the perfect "one" comes along. Whether it be lamps, tables, or even a bed or sofa - you'd be surprised what you can do with free or cheap things!
Remember how I said I relied heavily on friends and family for donated items? Can you even tell which ones those are? I bet not.
And guess what? Many of them are things I would not necessarily have chosen had I been out there with a bunch of cash to drop. But it forced me to get creative and that in turn led me to feeling super stoked on the unexpected colour schemes that arose, and the different ways I could make functional space.
create colour schemes
Create different colour schemes in different parts of the bachelor suite if possible. This will further help to define and identify the different "rooms".
I went with navy, white, grey, and pops of soft pink for my "bedroom" area and a totally different route in the living room with tan, red, mustard and blue. In some ways these spaces evolved naturally based on the items I got from friends and found for cheap and then I just expanded them as I bought my own items!
Case in point: My beautiful Aussie friend shipped me that cute pug yoga pillow case - something I may never have bought for myself. I immediately threw it on my "reading" chair and loved the pop of extra colour. Many months later, I wandered into a thrift shop and found this like-new mustard afghan for $3 (ya, $3) and the whole thing was suddenly perfect.
Consider painting a wall or the walls. A feature wall, especially, can be used to distinguish an area and make it feel like its' own unique space instead of part of the greater whole. If you're renting, make sure you get landlord approval first!
I love navy and grey (uh hello! huge colour elements on this site, too) and I prefer a bedroom with darker hues and natural sunlight (I'm a mess of contradictions, guys) so you can see what I did.
The soft grey-blue colour keeps the whole bachelor suite light, while the navy gives my room a focus and a sense of separation from the rest.
If you can’t paint, think about coloured door knobs, kitchen and bathroom towels, or even hanging a tapestry on the wall to really liven up the place.
Add rugs (unless you have carpet). Rugs not only elevate a space instantly, they add coziness, style, and further space separation!
Plus they're an easy and often cheap way to add a colour scheme you prefer - for instance, if you received a tan couch from a friend and wouldn't normally buy tan, find a rug in the colour scheme you prefer and might eventually aim for. It all comes together and things don't need to be as matchy-matchy as you might think!
add unique design elements that make it feel like yours
Once I had the two main areas (bedroom and living room) pretty well sorted, I began to look at cute elements to cosy up the space and make it yell "Cynthia!".
I started buying plants - many plants - and then a sweet blue ottoman. I created an office nook that doubles as a small dining table, something I was sure I had given up!
I found little ways to make cute, functional spaces with a flair that feels like me. There's no reason small has to feel crowded, cramped, or boring.
Now go forth and style that amazing bachelor suite! ;-)
And let me know which rooms you'd like more specific deets on! I'd love to share more - I mean, I already have the pretty pictures...:D