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05/24/2012 02:05 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Decor Ideas: A Small Space Makeover That'll Definitely Surprise You

Editor's Note: This article contains advice that worked for one homeowner. Your home decor preferences and floor plan layout may vary.

The Homeowner: Anthony Layser

The Dilemma: Anthony recently moved into a new studio apartment that was in a great location, but lacked floor space. And though he had a definite idea of how he would like his place to look (he's a fan of vintage-inspired decor and dark neutrals), his long work day meant no time to actually get furniture. Also, since it is a studio apartment, this main living space has to have a few functions. Did we also mention that he was on a budget? All of these things added up to one big design challenge.

The Fix: A wallet-friendly makeover. Actually, let's call a spade a spade: It's a complete overhaul that deftly fit a living room, entertaining space and work area in just one space.

Let's start with the walls. While many are hesitant to use a darker paint for fear of making a room look "closed in," the right color can make a room cozy, not claustrophobic. Especially if a room has high ceilings, like this one. Since the design inspiration was a vintage speakeasy, a moody charcoal gray was chosen.

Next, came the bookcase wall. These inexpensive shelves in a rich dark brown color created a handsome accent that also provided Anthony with ample storage for his collection of books, DVDs and antique finds. Clamp-on lamps created a "spotlight" effect that helps put the focus on the display. In between bookcases, a sleek white cabinet adds extra storage and a touch of modern style. An piece of faux paneling (found at most home improvement stores for usually $20 or less) was placed behind the TV to create a neutral backdrop that eliminated the bare spot behind the TV for a pulled-together look.

Over in opposite corner of the room, a small office/dining area was created with one great furniture piece: A table with folding leaves. With a flip of the wrist, a desk becomes a table that seats 4. (The odds and ends on the desk can be stowed away in the coffee table/storage chest.) Another cool touch: The curtains, which are actually canvas drop cloths held with clip-on curtain rings.

The finishing touches include a soft rug, which helps absorb sound while adding a comfy touch to the hardwood floors, and a wall of framed vintage posters from Anthony's collection.

All in all, this deceptively low-cost makeover was a success.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story left out where the homeowner sleeps. The apartment has a lofted area on the far end of the room, which fits a bed. This also got a makeover--check it out, here!

Click on items in the image below and scroll through the product rail to find some of the pieces used in the makeover.

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