Small Bedroom Tricks From A Real-Life Tiny Home

02/05/2015 07:00 am ET | Updated Feb 05, 2015

What makes a master bedroom masterful? After a peek inside the tiny apartment of Dustin O'Neal, we know that it isn't the square footage.

In a feature in New York magazine's fall 2014 issue of Design Hunting, O'Neal, a New York-based creative director for the arts and design industry, revealed how he called on a few design-industry contacts and transformed furniture pieces he and his roommate already owned (yes, he shares the 300-square-foot apartment) to transform the all-white space into his first real grown-up home.

But O'Neal tells HuffPost Home that his tiny space has gotten even cozier since then, evolving to accommodate his storage needs, his "manic creative output" and his love for throwing parties with friends. In short, O'Neal has mastered the art of making a tiny space feel grand, and he's taking HuffPost Home on a tour of his bedroom-cum-living room to prove it.

  • This is Dustin
    Mary Dorn
  • And this is his bedroom...
    Mary Dorn
    ...all 70-square-feet-of it.
  • The most obvious challenge? Space.
    Mary Dorn
    "My apartment is really, really small! And I love to host parties and cook almost all the time," he says. "My guests and I usually end up sitting in a circle eating and drinking on my bed or piled up on the kitchen counter."

    The solution: "When you live in a small space, you've got to constantly clean and find flexible ways to store your stuff. I was never a clean-freak, but I feel at home now and take a lot of pride in my space, so I've had to learn discipline. At one point, all I needed was a good book and an Xbox to feel comfortable, and suddenly I'm the guy who buys fresh flowers on a weekly basis. It's almost like the room and I are in a relationship, and we inspire each other. I take care of my space and she takes care of me."
  • Challenge #2: A small space AND a small budget
    Mary Dorn
    "The most expensive item in my room is actually the neon "Hunter" sign; I found it for $5 at a vintage store, but the rewiring cost a fortune, even after I put in research," he says.

    The solution: "Put in the work painting and exchanging favors -- you'd be shocked how willing your friends are to help out with your space if you cook them a nice roast chicken -- and then indulge in small ways. I was actually kind of shocked by how much you can do on a small budget. Stores like CB2 and West Elm have some gorgeous designs that most young adults can afford if they shop carefully, and those pieces make you feel way more grown up than a boozy Sunday brunch."
  • Challenge #3: Entertaining guests
    Mary Dorn
    "The great part about a small space is that it feels immensely personal, but the bad part about a small space is that it's, well, really small."

    The solution: "Use a mirror to visually extend the room, spend time finding affordable art that you actually connect with (and then hang it everywhere), leave room to dance around if you can, and don't stress over a temporary mess (because you know your guest truly had no other place to set down their amateur-hour tequila gimlet)."
  • When all is said and done...
    Mary Dorn
    "You know your space is right when you take more photos of your bedside table than of yourself. But maybe that's just me?"

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Also on HuffPost:

  • 1 Take the doors off cabinets.
    The Washington Post via Getty Images
    To answer your question right off the bat: Yes, you have to be a bit more organized.
  • 2 Paint horizontal stripes.
    The Washington Post via Getty Images
    Black and white is always stylish, but the stripe treatment can make a room seem wider.
  • 3 Be selective about what you bring into your home.
    The Washington Post via Getty Images
    Less is more -- never underestimate the power of breathing room in a small space.
  • 4 Paint a statement wall.
    Photo by Dave Lauridsen for Dwell
    Whether you go dark or light, this creates depth which can make a room seem more spacious. (Embracing a minimal lifestyle also helps.)
  • 5 Get (very) creative with wall space.
    Got dozens of shoes? Put 'em up.
  • 6 Hang curtains all the way to the ceiling.
    This creates the illusion of a higher ceiling.
  • 7 Incorporate mirrored finishes.
    They reflect light (revolutionary, we know) which makes a room seem bigger.
  • 8 Use a rug to define a space.
    In an open floor plan, an area rug can turn a seating arrangement into a "room."
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