Maximizing your dorminion

Whether you’re moving out, up or on, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is what to take along. Now, when that zone is furnished, shared and just shy of 350 square feet, “homey” can seem about as realistic an expectation as staying on top of your laundry.

Of course, there’s always the peanut gallery: from grandmas who swear by repurposed milk crates, to apartment veterans singing the praises of mini-fridges and hot plates. But fortunately, Portland’s ever-growing eclecticism is also a marvelous breeding ground for interior MacGyvers.

Jordan Vachal, a local contractor for Circuit Bouldering Gym, suggests an equip-to-fit approach in the face of compact spaces, relying more on a little “trompe l’oiel” to create the illusion of size. “There’s this saying that if you want a steak to look bigger, you shrink your potatoes. So, if you want your space to seem large and open, dial back what you’re putting in,” Vachal said.

This cornerstone of modern minimalism is certainly a wonderful ideal, but how does a serial clutter-bug get with the program? Forbes Magazine’s “Ten Apartment Organization Tips to Maximize Space” suggests actually utilizing that dusty under-bed space, slimming down with tall, vertical shelving and trying to introduce as much multi-functional furniture as possible.

Jordan Portlock, a junior studying communications, goes one step further by organizing not just for style’s sake, but for proximity as well.

“I try to think about where am I going to be most of the time in my room, and then have things within an accessible boundary,” Portlock said. “If you’re going to [be]very minimal though, you have to have the perfect structures.”

Many students run to Target or Ikea for such touches, but when you do need more than basics, sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and The Design Confidential offer affordable DIYs of every level. Or, for those with neither the talent nor tolerance for tinkering, Polyvore, Etsy and Portland State University’s Free & For Sale Facebook group still make it easy to find unique pieces.

Once you’ve nailed structure and essentials, then get personal. Bring in the paintings, posters and precious photos (remembering all the while that what goes up must come down, and then be spackled).

When it comes to common or social spaces, being considerate of that communality is essential. So rather than plastering the coffee table with photos of three distinct family tribes, try using the space to reinforce your sacred roomie bonds with chalkboards sporting supportive messages, time-saving key racks and even corny collages.

Paulina Gutierrez, an art major and Paper Source employee, warned that these social areas deserve even more attention than one’s lair.

“Having laundry all over your room isn’t great, but at least that door closes,” she said. “Putting a sink full of dishes in everyone’s face is totally different.”

Setting up an apartment is an entirely different beast than keeping it up, but hiding a minimalistic masterpiece beneath the flotsam of rejected outfits and assignments past is like never having had one at all. So commit to your kitchens, your laundry and tubs to ensure that your new home will also be loved!