Living in a studio apartment doesn’t have to mean skimping on style. Despite it being a bedroom, living room, kitchen and almost every other room in one, the right layout can make the compact space feel grand. To help you out, we’ve gathered creative studio apartment ideas and designer-approved tips to maximize every square inch of your space, even if it’s less than 400 square feet.
There’s so much to consider in order to make your studio cozy and functional. Imagine the possibilities: You can use a room divider to designate zones; place art (and kitchen appliances like a microwave) on ledges; install tall shelves to free up floor space; or try a space-saving Murphy bed (perfect for hosting overnight guests). And let’s not forget that you can easily bring your space to life with the right paint color or graphic wallpaper!
No matter your personal style — modern, minimalist, traditional or rustic, for instance — you can make your studio apartment one of the best places you’ve ever lived with these inspiring design ideas. Get ready to think big and live large!
Take Advantage of Ceiling Height
“Since there’s typically not a plethora of floor space in studio apartments, utilize tall shelving units for display and storage purposes,” says Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors. “This will also make the room feel larger.” Plus, you’ll be able to see your favorite things clearly and quickly grab what you need.
Utilize Every Part of the Kitchen
A small yet practical built-in table or peninsula can offer just enough seating to work, entertain and enjoy meals in the kitchen. It replaces the need for a kitchen island, which consumes much more space.
Utilize Ledges on the Wall
This basement apartment in Mount Washington features a charming bedroom, complete with ledges to display art and collectibles. “We used vintage pieces and lots of found art depicting the neighborhood,” says Julia Chasman of Julia Chasman Design.
Try an Accent Wall With Wallpaper
Designer Ruthie Staalsen recommends installing black and white peel-and-stick wallpaper behind your bed. “It gives it a designer look and makes your small space feel more fresh, open and fun,” she says. The other elements, like your bedding, can be full of color.
Layer Color and Texture
Color “immediately gives you a joyful welcome,” Staalsan says. It doesn’t matter what style you want to replicate in your studio, get creative when mixing and matching colors in your design. Add texture by incorporating multiple patterns, such as florals, stripes and polka dots.
Go Small With Your Desk
Reconsider the size of your tables and desks, along with their placement. “A small organic desk fits nicely in a corner and takes up minimal space,” says designer Glenna Stone. “It provides an artistic element and can also double as a unique dining table.”
Install Plenty of Shelves
In a studio apartment, shelves will be your best friend. Install floating shelves anywhere you see fit — think above your couch or bed. Arrange belongings on bookshelves and add built-ins for more permanent storage.
Incorporate a Bar Cart
Squeeze in a bar cart for entertaining, similar to this industrial-inspired pick. Bar carts aren’t just great for displaying drinks and glasses — they can also be used to store books, plants and small decorative accents. Plus, they can easily be moved around throughout the open space.
Upgrade the Bathroom
Your studio’s bathroom might not be as big as you want, making the layout all the more important. “We renovated the small bathroom with a 3/4 shower and vanity,” says Chasman. The square corner shower doesn’t require as much space as others, while the vanity has multiple drawers for essential items.
Remove Unnecessary Walls
Nicole White of Nicole White Designs removed a wall to create an open-concept kitchen, and you can do the same in your studio! This made “room for seating at a peninsula and easy conversation with guests at the dining table,” she says. Then, she maximized storage with an apartment-sized fridge that was 28 inches wide.
Choose Simple Dining Furniture
Seating arrangements don’t have to be grand and extravagant to make a design statement. In fact, your space may benefit from an elegant round dining table with minimal seating for hosting.
“When it comes to a studio apartment, start by carving out distinct zones,” says Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Studio. “Think about arranging your furniture in a way that defines different areas – like a cozy living space, a stylish sleeping nook and a functional workspace.” She recommends using area rugs, stylish room dividers and furniture placements to create visual separation. “This way, you’ll create a harmonious flow while maintaining individuality in each,” she says.
Experiement With Lighting and Color
Kelly considers lighting and color to be “the magic wands of interior design.” She suggests using transparent curtains or blinds to allow natural light to come through. “When it comes to colors, opt for light and neutral tones to visually expand your space,” she says. “Add pops of color through accent pillows, artwork or decorative accessories.” Kelly’s finishing touch: strategically placing mirrors so they’ll “bounce light around and make your cozy haven feel more inviting.”
Make Room for Storage
Use a barn door to section off the hallway from the living space, similar to this setup by designer Ayca Stiffel of By Design Interiors. Carve out an area to use as storage space. Don’t forget to add wall hooks and a storage bench!
Paint Everything White
Brighten a small studio apartment with white walls and furniture. This works great for spaces with minimal access to light and helps evoke a grander feel.
Save Space for Entertainment
“In studio apartments, the living areas need to be used for both relaxation and entertainment, so I always like to consider including a sleeper sofa as a secondary sleeping space for guests,” says Ashton Joseph, senior interior designer of By Design Interiors. In this setup, the sofa makes room for table football and small stools that can act as extra seating in a pinch.
Use Bar Stools in the Kitchen
“Bar stools along the island create an additional dining and social area, as well being a functional space for meal prep,” says Joseph. What’s more, they can easily boost your kitchen’s visual appeal.
Make the Kitchen the Focal Point
If the kitchen is your favorite place to be, don’t position space off to the side. Instead, make it the studio’s focal point, similar to this open kitchen with island seating. The kitchen even has a “movable” island that can be wheeled around the room for additional prep and dining.
Use Double-Duty Furniture
According to Stone, “day beds can double as extra seating or a reading nook,” says Stone. They’re comfortable, functional and can be used as beds for you or your guests! “Scoot it up to a table to maximize seating capacity, or snuggle in to read a book with a comfortable throw,” Stone says.
Rethink Your Seating
Carolyn Thayer of Carolyn Thayer Interiors designed this Boston studio with various seating throughout. A space-saving tip: Go for smaller stools to place in corners or under tables, similar to this layout under the television. “Surprisingly, there is quite a bit of seating, making the space available for small gatherings when the pieces are all in use, but interesting and organized when not,” she says.
Install a Murphy Bed
We love Murphy beds for many reasons: they can be used as guest beds, they can look like a regular wall, and overall, they’re just multifunctional! What’s more, they can “transform the living room into a bedroom at night,” says Thayer.
RELATED: 13 Space-Saving Beds for Small Rooms
Consider Built-In Seating
Here’s an apartment-style reading nook and kitchen designed by By Design Interiors, in collaboration with Erika Barczak. Consider this layout for your own studio, where you can easily lounge during the day and walk “next door” to cook when looking for a bite.
Create a Gallery Wall
One of the easiest ways to increase height in small spaces is to “create a gallery wall with different size frames and a curation of interesting elements,” says Staalsen. Hang a collection of mirrors, photos, paintings and objects to create an instant focal point.
Create a Multifunctional Dining Space
Use your kitchen island as a dining table or breakfast space. The island will help you when cooking or washing dishes, while offering guests a wide and longer table for eating together during gatherings.
Maximize Kitchen Space
If your kitchen’s design has a smaller square footage, don’t worry about space! “Make the most of a smaller compact floorplan by adding several storage options, such as cabinets, shelving and a small prep island,” says Joseph.
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