If you live in a studio, chances are that you can’t afford an interior designer to decorate the apartment. Basically, you have to figure out how to do everything yourself.
Decorating a studio is a big challenge though. How can you possibly avoid clutter or make a guest feel welcome in a room that triples as bedroom, living room and kitchen?
That’s why, in today’s post, we will explore the best decorating ideas for people with a studio or apartment, offered by 58 interior designers. We asked them:
What are Your Favorite Studio Apartment Decorating Ideas?
My favorite studio apartment ideas:
1) Small spaces can be the best spaces when they’re composed thoughtfully like you would a big art project.
If the space is generic, create your own character with an accent wall.
I like to paint a wall a deep color, like charcoal or navy and place open backed, contrasting shelves against it. This establishes your color scheme, creates architectural interest, and increases your display and storage options.
2) Small spaces work better when you use fewer, simpler furniture pieces. Choose items that do double (or triple) duty.
An ottoman with storage underneath can be floated in the room, placed against a wall for a bench, or pushed against a sofa to make a relaxed lounge. A bed with cubbies in the headboard provides storage, a place for a lamp, and can be floated in the room as a space divider.
Add in lighter, interesting pieces that can be easily moved also work well in a small space. I like a pair of shapely chairs that can be used with a table or desk then easily moved to be close to the sofa or bed for conversation.
3) One of the most sophisticated ways to increase the feeling of space is to use a very edited color palette like an art gallery or posh hotel. Choose a natural tone that’s already in the structure, like the wood or concrete floor as the base color and build the palette from there.
Think of crisp white walls and black window trim paired with a natural wood floor. Add in a fluffy black and white rug, sheer white curtains, and a neutral colored sofa. Then bring in colorful art or accents in a small amount to add character.
Sara Cannon – House Heroes
I actually love decorating very small spaces, and wish I had the chance to do so more often! While my role as Designer usually means I’m helping to rehab full homes, my husband and I shared a studio apartment in San Francisco for over five years, so this topic is one that is very close to my heart.
Everything should have the possibility of tucking something away in it, from ottomans to coffee tables to end tables and even pet beds or litter solutions..
Here are some of my tried and true studio apartment solutions. These are tips that can be used in really any sized space!
1. Line the walls. If you have a larger space and can sacrifice between 11-15 inches of room depth, select a wall and line it entirely with bookshelves — ideally a combination of closed and open storage.
This can be done affordably (and freestanding) using the IKEA Billy, Kallax or Hemnes shelving units, but if you have a larger budget I am absolutely obsessed with Container Store’s ELFA shelving solutions. They are metal strips secured to the wall, with completely modular shelving and bin attachments.
2. Leave no piece of furniture empty. A big ottoman is lovely, but it’s even better when it’s filled with stuff. I’ve bought multiples of this shoe storage bench from Overstock, which is a clever way to organize footwear but is also a sturdy and quality piece of furniture for the price.
If you want a solid surface for a coffee table or end table, trunks from Dormco are the perfect size, can be stacked, come in many colors, and bonus — you can usually nab a “back to school” deal even if your collegiate days are well behind you. Fill them with electronics and other media, your board games, or if you’re like us — your husband’s collections of comics and action figures.
If you have pets, doubling up your end table for use as a bed is a great solution — you can get them pre-made or modify an existing piece of furniture.
I’m also a huge fan of ditching the traditional TV stand or entertainment center, in favor of a large dresser or buffet with lots of drawers.
3. Look for “apartment-sized” furniture. Retailers like Pottery Barn have PB Apartment and even PB Teen for smaller solutions that are often more affordable. Similarly, Urban Outfitters has sofas and shelving, usually with a more diminutive footprint, for a younger clientele than their Anthropologie counterparts.
You certainly run the risk of your decor looking a little juvenile if you overdo it on anything marketed to teens, but mixing them in with more sophisticated pieces is a great technique that I still use today in my sliver of a historic townhouse!
James Hepple – Staunton & Henry
Living in one of the most densely populated cities on earth (Hong Kong), where tiny apartments are the norm – we’ve seen some very creative ideas over the years.
Some great examples are building a bedroom on top of an elevated platform that is used for storage. You spend most of the time in your bedroom lying down (hopefully!), so foregoing a little head room for a huge amount of additional storage is a great solution.
Apart from the obvious practical benefit of more storage space, building up has another equally important benefit – it helps define spaces. An elevated bedroom is clearly a distinct space to the main living area of the apartment. Using height to define the space also means you can keep one or two walls of the space open which further adds to the sense of space.
The apartments we’ve seen that embrace this idea always look visually very interesting and actually make living in a smaller space fun and inspiring rather that something you need to endure.
Kayla Hein – Modern Castle
With most studios, there are limited changes you can make to the space that would be considered permanent, but that doesn’t mean your changes can’t be impactful. Here are my top 5 recommendations for how to decorate a studio apartment.
1. Hang a wall tapestry
Wall tapestries are great accent pieces for blank apartment walls. They are large, lightweight, and can offer a bold statement or pop of color to the space.
Depending on the size and the substrate of your wall, these could be simply hung with command hooks or small nails, limiting the damage you may have to patch when you move out.
2. Go plush
Plush over-sized pillows, throws and upholstered seating can be great additions for a studio apartment because they serve two purposes– design and sound absorption.
Adding more textile finishes to your studio apartment can bring in different color palettes while also limiting the amount of sound that bounces around the room.
3. Add a rug
Adding a rug can be a great way to break up the space of a studio apartment. In most cases, studios have a limited number of walls, making it hard to create distinctly different spaces.
4. Play up the natural light.
Natural light in a space is one of the best ways to make it Instagram-worthy in a matter of minutes. Hanging lightweight sheer curtains allows more natural light into the space which can make it feel larger.
5. Add something green
Along with natural light, low-maintenance living plants can be a great addition to your apartment. Plants in your home have been proven to help clean the air and promote healthier living. Not to mention, it brings a bit of the outside in.
I like to make the bed feel as though it has it’s own space even though it’s a shared living/sleeping arrangement. I would either separate the bed and the living area with a decorative screen that acts as a “wall” or create drapery around the bed so that it feels as though it has some privacy. You can use a canopy bed and hang rod pocket curtains on the rails or attach a track system to the ceiling where your curtains can glide open and shut from the tracks.
You can also use the back of your sofa as a “wall” to separate the space if the apartment layout is conducive for this furniture plan.
Make sure your furniture is to scale and you don’t use oversized pieces that take up unnecessary room
Have fun with the bathroom and put up a funky wallpaper so that it feels different from the rest of the apartment
Hang mirrors to reflect light and allow the space to “grow” naturally
Use plants to bring some life into the space and fill dead corners
Lastly, rugs are a great way to separate spaces and can act as room definers within one larger area.
Dmitri Kara – Fantastic Services
Framed wallpaper. You can give your place a fresher look just by framing a sample of your favorite piece of wallpaper. It can really contribute to the exquisite look of any room. Or why not be even more original and create a series of framed wallpapers? It will definitely make your place way more stylish.
A soft and cozy rug. Whether you already have some sort of floor covering, there is always room for a soft and cozy rug. Available in different shapes and colors – rugs will definitely make your home feel cozier than ever.
Slipcovers. If you are tired of your old chairs, slipcovers can be a really smart solution to change the look of any upholstery.
Colorful furniture. Walls are not always meant to be the accent of a room. They can easily become the passive background to a really colorful and stylish furniture. Cheer up the place with such pieces, coverings, or pillows with colors which will pop up and make a difference.
Greenery. Nothing brings the life back into a room than the life itself. Place some of your favorite flowers and plants here and there and you will feel the place more lively, vibrant and expensive.
A personal favorite are Illuminated photos – have your most cherished memories glow! Really аffordable and practical way to decorate your studio. Hang all dear photos and decorate with twinkle lights. A dash of warm light will help you rest better.
Emily Mackie – Inspired Interiors
Movable walls can provide necessary privacy but can be opened to simulate a more open environment. This flexible layout is extremely convenient for studio or efficiency apartments. For Mackie, she once hand-built a custom movable wall using five doors she fashioned together.
Use Surfaces in Duality
Get creative with every surface inch of space, utilizing an area in different ways depending on the time of day for ultimate multipurpose functionality. For example, Mackie recommends using desk space with good light. In the morning, the desk can be used to apply makeup, do your hair or get ready for the day. At night, the area turns into a workstation.
Find Storage In Every Area
Clutter is constant in small spaces, so manage your storage by utilizing any available space. Mackie suggests looking under the bed, where small bins and baskets can be stored or use the vertical space on the back of stores where slim wire baskets can hide.
Petria Leggo – Coco Rose Interiors
When designing your home you should realize your interests and tastes will change, as will trends in interior styling. Therefore it’s vital to choose a timeless base for your home which will allow you to add your unique touches and easily change.
Variety of decor – The eye loves a distraction. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes and sizes of the same item – think cushions on a couch or perhaps three shell chandeliers clustered together!
A growing trend within the home we are beginning to see throughout this year is the use of indoor plants – Or as I like to call it ‘living decor’. The introduction of plants to a room rounds off any style with perfect taste and drives home a natural eco-friendly vibe.
The best thing about styling living decor within the home is that anyone can do it! Most indoor plants just need to be put in their happy space, add a little water and voila! You have an inexpensive way to decorate your space with minimal maintenance, adding tranquillity and clearing the air of toxins at the same time.
Eric Sztanyo – Team Sztanyo
When it comes to decorating a studio apartment, you have to be very smart about functionality without compromising on the aesthetics. Here are some of my favorite tips.
Minimize the Color Scheme. This has a bigger impact than you may think. Overly complicated color schemes can make the apartment feel smaller than it actually is. Focus on choosing 2-3 colors and using them throughout the entire apartment. This helps tie the scheme together and make the apartment feel larger.
Divide Wisely. With a limited space to work in, you need to choose your dividers very wisely. It’s nice to separate the space, but try to do so in a way that makes sense functionally. For example, a nice area to divide up is around your bed. In order to feel to crammed in, opt for a divider that allows light to pass through. Open shelving can make a great choice as it both divides and offers storage.
Draw the Eyes Up. When working with a smaller space, visual height is one of your best decorating methods to make the room feel smaller than it is.
There are many design elements that can help – vertical shelving, a large piece of wall art, a vertical mirror and eye-catching light fixtures.
Matt Riley – Tonic Design
With so many options when looking to decorate, why not combine wall art and your TV. This allows you the opportunity to display artwork when the TV isn’t in use adding to the serenity of your apartment living. There are many options out there which look and feel like framed art but double as your television – LG does a great one.
Every studio apartment could do with more storage, this tip also aids in creating zones to give a sense of space. Create a platform for your bedroom with added storage underneath installing the bed raised above the floor creates spaces – perhaps a retreat space for reading – lounging.
We don’t want to say it, but mirrors. Mirrors are the cheapest most effective way to add the impression of space and natural light to a smaller space. Failing this we’ve recently used furniture pieces that are mirrored – for example, a mirrored cubed coffee table – definitely not for everyone – this adds some ‘spectacular-ness’ to a space whilst giving light, and openness. Key pieces are essential in the design and planning of smaller spaces.
Curtains as room dividers are a cost-effective way to create spatial separation without the need for solid structural elements – they can also add texture and color to a plain space.
Studio apartments are by nature quite small so a key design detail is to include a lot of storage wherever possible, but then cupboard doors everywhere don’t look great. Creating beautiful panels upholstered in fabric or wall covering which push-to-open to reveal storage, allow the scheme to remain sleek and sophisticated.
Storage is vital no matter how big your home is, yet you never seem to have enough and this is particularly true in a studio apartment. But the truth is you don’t want every elevation to look like a run of wardrobes.
It is a little more costly, I will admit, but upholstering doors to look like decorative panels works a treat. It’s like having a unique artwork instead of just plain doors. To add spice, the doors could sit at angles to each other giving the appearance of a room dividing screen. To soften the appearance, the doors could also be lightly padded and upholstered in fabric.
Another option could be to wallpaper the cupboard doors in the same finish that’s on the wall which allows the elevation to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the scheme. Hanging artworks on the doors will fool anyone into believing that this is just part of the wall.
I once did a studio for a client who used the space as an office but also wanted it to look homely and on occasion, sleep over.
Finally, cladding the doors with mirror and then running the skirting (baseboard) across the front gives the illusion of a mirror-paneled wall.
Here are some ideas for studio apartments:
· I love to use mirrors that are attached to the wall and are framed out to look like openings, it can fool the eye and create the illusion of other spaces that come off of this room.
· Color on the ceiling is a great way to create warmth without closing in the room in the way that you might if it was on the walls.
· A feature wall of patterned wallpaper can be a great way to lengthen the space and draw your eye through the room.
· Standing screens can be a really great tool to help divide the space into mini “rooms”.
· Pay attention to lighting, having some brighter spots and others that are less so can create a visual rhythm that can make a small space much more interesting.
My favorite apartment studio ideas are:
1. It’s just paint and you can always paint it back once you leave. Paint a focal wall in a bold, striking color to create instant impact.
2. If you are afraid of paint, cover a focal wall with a fun, patterned removable wallpaper. Once you move just peel it off.
3. Use storage ottomans as coffee tables they are stylish, multifunctional, and can serve as extra seating when guest are over.
4. Purchase a convertible sofa that has a built-in hideaway bed for guest.
When square footage is limited; as is the case in most studios, my favorite decorating idea is twofold
1. To go vertical— often the space above 72” on a wall is unused so it’s a great way to add additional storage on top of bookcases or kitchen cabinetry a large basket can be used to decoratively store blankets and pillows in plain sight.
2. Buy multifunctional furniture — I encourage all my clients to ensure that the furnishings within the space can provide more than one use- this keeps the apartment from looking cluttered
Consider what colors you want to use within your apartment. Remember that you can either make an area stand out or fade away – just from your choice in color. This is particularly useful for evoking different emotions within small areas!
Keep. It. Simple. There is no need to over decorate or place 5 items in an area that should host two. Simplicity is your friend is smaller spaces.
Make each space a feature! Through color and decoration, you can make your apartment space something magical.
Remember that all areas are crucial to your living, if you have a weird bit of unthought-out space they can really stand out in apartments, so make it into a feature!
Add some artwork, create an inviting reading nook with eclectic pillow and lighting… the options are endless.
Turn it into storage. If you have the opportunity to turn your awkward small spaces into a cupboard (your can simply use curtains or doors for this) and you need the extra storage – this is a perfect opportunity to turn your awkward space into utilised space that enhances your living.
AJ Saunders – My Dream Haus
People are usually overwhelmed by the lack of space in a studio apartment. However, they often don’t see how much dead space is available to be reclaimed.
For example, beds. There are many beds on the market which have a storage compartment under the mattress which can be accessed by lifting it up. This is a great way to create plenty of space for items you don’t need every day but still would like easy access.
Another way to create more storage is to use the space above cupboards or existing shelving. You can buy linen boxes which fold flat and make it easy to section the space.
If you’re lucky and have a corner studio with plenty of windows then you might be able to separate spaces using lightweight floor to ceiling curtains.
In terms of color, it’s a good idea to use one neutral color throughout – such as an off-white or a light grey. This creates a fantastic backdrop, which can be easily accented with furniture and accessories. By adding layers, you can create interest using different colors and textures.
Also, you can use faux greenery or real flowers to change the mood of the apartment depending on the season.
Anna Maria Mannarino – Mannarino Designs
When designing a studio apartment, every inch counts! Here are just a few tips:
Be aware of scale. Using smaller-scale furniture will allow room for the pieces you need without looking overcrowded. Key example using a sofa that is not to deep and with tapered arms.
Use multifunctional pieces wherever possible. Options for lounging/sleeping combinations have come a long way. Sofa beds are much more comfortable now and offer many options that unfold without having to remove any cushions! Daybeds options also run the gamut from fully upholstered tufted, to mid-century modern, or very sleek and contemporary. Another great combo is using a cocktail table that lifts to dining height; and don’t forget storage ottomans!
Consider incorporating some glass or acrylic pieces to keep the space open and airy.
Utilize open bookcases or display units to divide spaces…Perfect for carving out a small area for a home office.
Take the focus off the floor. Use the height of the walls. Hang floating narrow cabinets for all-important storage. Hang floating shelves which will give you space to display books, pictures, collectibles but will keep it airy.
Krystal Sagona – Interior Flow
You should have moveable island benches to the kitchen that are storage and preparation benches. When the benches are movable it creates more room in the dining area. When friends are around it can be doubled up as a wine and cheese platter hang out
In the lounge room you should add some:
Mirrors to decorate the room to make the space appear larger
Single chairs that are easily movable and feature key design pieces to add a wow factor to the interior
Ottomans that can double as additional storage and ensure they have a lid for additional storage in them
Lounges that have storage built into them such as king furniture or double up as a sofa bed for smaller apartments
Have custom storage built into the existing joinery by a cabinet maker such as in the kitchen front island bench if moving into a new apartment so that you can maximize storage and have clean in cluttered benches. Clean benches create spaces that look larger .
Create a welcome presence in the entry with a wall shelf for keys and a mirror above or painting
Morgan Ovens – Haven Home
My favorite ideas for small studio’s are:
1. Less Is More. Start with an editing session. Part of the fun of living in a small studio space is the ability to see almost everything you have at glance – so if you don’t love it, donate it!
2. Buy Multi-Purpose Furniture. In a small space, I think it’s so important to focus on multi-purpose items such as a storage bench that not only can offer a seat for you potentially at a desk or at the end of your bed, but seats for guests when they come over as well as an additional storage space!
3. Accessorize In Style. Instead of purchasing chatskis that have a tendency to look cluttered, buy fresh flowers + candles instead. These will give your studio apartment an instant warm + posh feeling without overcrowding any surfaces.
I lived in a studio apartment for two years and loved it! A few tips I have for studio-dwellers:
Don’t forget about window treatments. Curtains, roman blinds or sheer roller shades really polish off a space and make it feel well-loved and complete.
Float furniture in the room when possible. It’s easy to succumb to the temptation to push everything up against the walls to make the space feel bigger, but that can actually work against you. By floating your sofa in the middle of the room it can both act as a room divider and create a living space that feels separate from your bedroom or kitchen.
Area rugs are another awesome way to help divide up an open space and make things feel more intimate. An area rug under your sofa and accent chair immediately identifies that area as “living room”, not “weird couch and chair in your bedroom”.
Mirrors are great for opening up small spaces and making them appear larger.
Furniture photos can be deceiving online, so I also recommend using a tape measure! You don’t want anyone piece to overpower the room. It’s also helpful to note that custom furniture can be less expensive that what you’ll find in a store, so I encourage everyone to shop around!
Try to avoid walking into the back of a sofa or into a bed when you enter a room. If the bedroom is small, we suggest not buying a footboard.
Rugs are a great way to define spaces, and can add style, color and help open up a room.
Dark colored walls can make a space look much smaller. Furniture of the wrong scale – either too large or too small – can make a room feel “off” which also affects the space.
In addition, the wrong size rug or sofa can make a room look smaller, and too much furniture can make a space feel cramped. We recommend choosing only the necessary pieces to complete your space. Try not to overdo it!
Stephanie Elias – Lambs & Ivy
Three key considerations in designing a studio apartment, or any small space, are to choose multi-functional furniture items, carve out living zones and maximize height.
Multi-functional furniture may include a day bed that looks and functions like a sofa or a coffee table that doubles as storage space. These multi-function items help provide the functionality you need without the added clutter.
Then, to establish some living zones you can use rugs, accessories or art as anchors so that you create the illusion of different rooms within the same space.
Height can be maximized by hanging shelves above doorways or mixing up seating heights so maybe bar stools are used for dining and a low bench is used by the entry. You really want to try to maximize every inch both horizontally and vertically.
Choosing a unified color palette is an easy way to make the space look bigger. Unified colors work well together and don’t clash, therefore they can give the impression of more space.
Jerith Bailey – Mahogany Builders
When homeowners talk about studio apartment living, they often focus on creative storage ideas, but I think the most important thing you can do for your small space is to create a sense of drama.
Use contrasting colors with abandon, get creative with different sources of light like lamps versus recessed lighting, and most importantly pile on the luxury with a few well-curated selections like a fur throw or antique mirror.
If your home is sparsely decorated, there will be nothing interesting to look at.
I once did a job for a client, a woman in her 70s who was downsizing from a family home to a studio in a posh building downtown. We said goodbye to boring white cabinets and white walls and installed bright red cabinetry with high-end appliances to give her space some oomph.
We love the use of mirrors in small spaces to reflect the light. Cohesiveness is the key, and keeping things simple is a top priority.
That being said, functionality also has to be high on the list.
Swivel chairs will help to increase seating usage as they can turn to wherever the action is.
We love a convertible sofa that easily pulls out into a bed, or extends to allow you to have your feet up while watching a movie.
We also love anything on casters as a lot of time, things may have to shift around based on the occasion! An open bookcase is a nice way to divide a space without compromising natural light
Erin Fausel – American Freight Furniture & Mattress
One of my favorite studio decorating ideas is to choose a theme that balances minimalism, comfort, and storage. You want to get as much out of your tiny floorplan as possible. Use floating shelving, slender bookcases, and bar carts to display decorations and store food, cookbooks, and small kitchen appliances.
In your living room area, choose furniture that’s stackable or dual purpose. Choose a sturdy futon or sleeper sofa as the main sitting space by day and turn it into your bed at night. Nesting tables are a creative way to utilize different side tables on an as-needed basis. Display tables all around the room or stack them in one place while they aren’t in use. Instead of a blanket basket, try a blanket ladder to save floor space and elongate the wall where you place it.
Having lived in a small apartment myself, I understand the struggle to decorate a small space and make functional for my life.
The most important decor aspect that I stress in small spaces is that every item that comes into your home should have a purpose and match your personal style.
Studio apartments tend to lack storage space, so find furniture that is both stylish and provides storage. Keeping a consistent style throughout the apartment will give the illusion of space.
John Linden – MirrorCoop
Honestly, one of the best things you can do with a studio apartment is paint it white. White walls reflect light to make the room feel bigger. And, get some white furniture, too. A white coffee table, shelves, shower curtain…etc…all of that stuff will make the room feel airier and more spacious.
If you can’t stand to have an entirely white apartment (which I completely understand), get things that are lightly colored. Baby blues and pale yellows work well. The darker you go, the more that everything will start to feel like it’s closing in.
Janet Lorusso – JRL Interiors
The top three things I think are most important for apartments or any small living space are:
Multipurpose furniture: i.e. a daybed that doubles as a sofa, a coffee table that raises to desk/dining height, a bookcase with shelves that slide to reveal audiovisual equipment.
Smart storage solutions: tables with storage drawers, a daybed withdrawers in it, a shelving unit ie the IKEA Kallax that allows for covered storage via baskets or bins as well as a bookshelf and display space. Having items stored out of site limits visual clutter.
Consistent colors: a palette of two or three neutrals and one accent color can keep things from looking chaotic in a small space. A touch of greenery via plants is a welcome addition to any space and the vertical plant walls that are currently popular can be an interesting idea for a studio apartment on a wall or as a room divider.
Jonathan Prichard – Mattress Insider
Having spent 6 years living in NYC, I know how challenging it can be making a studio apartment look like home. While it’s true that your bedroom, family room, and kitchen are basically all combined, you don’t want it to look like one big space. Try to split up the room into different areas using panel dividers, Shoji screens, bookcases, or rugs.
Bedroom sets just take up way too much space in a studio. Being a custom mattress supplier, one of the most common things we see studio apartment owners/renters do is put a sleeper sofa or a murphy bed with cabinets in the apartment to hide the sleeping area. Just be mindful of purchasing furniture that is an appropriate size of the space or it’s going to draw too much focus.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Get inspiration from Pintrest and from Tiny Home magazines to help you create a look specific to your tastes.
If you still need help, consider hiring a professional organizer or an interior designer to help you create zones in your space.
Having designed a studio apartment in Manhattan (this service was given to the occupant as a holiday gift!), I have several tips that may be helpful to your readers:
1. Do NOT use small-scale furniture and art. Think of the studio as a large family room, not as a combined living, dining, and bedroom.
2. There are pros and cons to each of the 3-bed options. The daybed is the easiest to make, but it’s not the most comfortable as a sofa. When entertaining, it often looks like a bed with pillows.
The pull out sofa, especially the ones from American Leather that are built with a plywood substrate for the mattress, is comfortable both as a bed and as a sofa, but it takes more effort (ie. Stripping the breeding) to turn from bed to sofa. When entertaining, the sofa bed looks like a sofa, and the door to the closet looks like a door to a bedroom.
The third option is the Murphy bed. Although the bed can flip up into its box fully made, the mattress depth is limited and is less comfortable as a bed. Also, the floor area must be made clear for the bed to come down. This results in most people who live in their studio leaving the Murphy bed down as a bed unless entertaining. It does tidy up and enlarge the room when up.
3. Since some folks only put their bed away for dinner parties, they have a small eating table that opens to a large table that only fits when the bed is in the up or closed position, and they store the leaves and folding chairs in the closet until needed.
4. Color: Since the room is usually large, you don’t have to use white only. Often it makes sense and even expands the space visually to have either a long wall of books (that can conceal the Murphy bed) or a dark on-trend color like the dark blue teal that is popular now. Do NOT be afraid of color. A bright light yellow wall can add sunshine to the space. Don’t forget to add an oversized piece of art. It actually can make space feel larger and more vibrant.
Marina V. Umali – Marina Design Studio
I think for me the smartest design move that you can make in a studio apartment is to find pieces that serve multiple functions. Because studio apartments lack space, pieces that can serve at least two functions are great in smaller spaces.
For instance, a bench with storage can serve as a seating surface as well as a storage piece. Selecting light colors is also advisable for smaller spaces as dark colors will make the space seem even smaller.
Another tip is to use the vertical space, get bookcases and storage pieces that take up wall space and not so much floor space so that you can have as much space as possible to move around and gain the much-needed storage space that is always lacking in a small apartment.
Susan Serra – Susan Serra Associates
A studio apartment may have a lackluster kitchen. Here are some ways to upgrade the look.
Add new “jewelry”! Cabinet hardware is the finishing touch for any kitchen. Make it colorful, oversized or unique in any way and the result will be pure style.
The kitchen is made of all hard surfaces – warm it up with a colorful runner for comfort and choose an aesthetic that blends in and softens the look or makes a bold statement. www.scandinavianmade.com
Bring in the “living room” art! Create a coordinated design and flow from living area to kitchen by adding a piece or two of good quality artwork in the kitchen.
In the bath, add a few vintage mirrors over the sink in similar but different styles for a designer look.
For a super stylish bath, paint the ceiling black or a color and tie it in with towels and accessories.
Add slightly oversized modern or vintage lighting to the bath to create an upscale look.
Add a very large and oversized mirror in the living area to visually enlarge the space.
Design in furniture – sofas, chairs, cabinetry – on legs to achieve a lighter, more open look.
Decorate in soft, analogous colors which will make the studio look more connected between furnishings, walls and floors and less cluttered.
Use mostly closed storage to corral clutter.
Emily Davies – John Evans Design
For decorating a studio apartment, I would consider trying to keep the decoration light simple and contemporary.
When decorating a studio you need to try and create an optical illusion to maximize the space.
Also consider the furniture for space, choosing furniture that isn’t big and bulky is key. Keep it contemporary and fresh.
When decorating a studio apartment I like to follow a couple of guidelines to optimize the perceived space. Clever selection of furniture and colors combined with a thoughtfully planned layout can really make the most even the smallest of pads.
Slimline furniture such as tables and chairs of Scandinavian style design will allow the eye to travel through the room easier, often making the area feel more airy and spacious.
Choosing neutral and pale colors for walls will illuminate the high ceiling height that often comes with a studio apartment. You can also use wallpaper on just one or two walls to help zone the apartment into a seating area, dining area and so on.
If your studio apartment is on the very small side, then you can look at incorporating your decorating ideas into some clever storage solutions. Dining tables or desks that can fold up into the wall will create floor space for other activities when it is not in use. Modular seating could also be a great option. Especially something that converted into a bed for guests or even for yourself.
My other favourite ideas for apartments include: sliding doors which disappear into the stud wall space, dramatic full length sheer curtains for windows with an embroidered pattern for some privacy and elegance while still allowing natural light into the room, and also making the most of kitchen cabinets by investing in internal door storage systems such as racks and shelves.
Adam Busch – YLiving
A helpful tip that I’ve found for opening up a studio apartment’s design is focusing on your shading and color. Different shades of the same color create a more spacious effect within a room.
Specifically, lighter and cooler shades of grey, green or blue provide an illusion of openness, as opposed to dark colors, which absorb light and give a room a closed-off ambiance. Paint the ceiling white and the trim a lighter color than the walls to add to the space.
Use of complementary shades is not limited to paint. Keeping rugs and décor within the same color family will add to the effect of space creation as well.
Robbie Nevens – Lamp Twist
Studios, in general, are small but if you want to make the best use of the space I like to see pieces that can fold when you are not using them. A great example is a drop leaf table.
Also, the bed can be a big space saver. There are plenty of options; you can find a bed that you can store away easily, using the volume underneath the bed as storage space, or even putting the bed up closer to the ceiling and have more space underneath.
Cassie Thomson – PIP+COOP Property Styling
When you think studio apartment you think “small” “tight space” “Cramped”. But this is simply not the case these days, especially now in Australia with the introduction of a few more international small space living stores that have emerged in our shopping centers.
Think amazing space saving ideas that really do make the most of the space, shelves that work from all angles, loft beds, fold out or raising desks, coffee tables that open up as storage and a dining table option. Adaption of these Japanese inspired options make the studio spaces now feel bigger than ever.
When it comes to key decorating ideas you can’t go past the Scandinavian light oak and white theme to keep the space light and bright, adding pops of color with cleverly hung greenery. Another key decorating tip for a studio is adding a large floor mirror on the wall reflecting the space adjacent and giving a depth illusion to the room.
Sophie Kaemmerle – Neighbor Who
Multifunctional furniture. Furniture that also functions as storage is ideal for studio apartments. You no longer need to choose style over function with innovative but well designed pieces such as ottomans, pouffes, tables, and even sofas/chairs that offer interior storage are perfect for items that you need within easy reach but don’t necessarily want to clutter up your small space like remote controls, magazines, books, or extra blankets.
Look for stylish furniture that offers dual storage function as a coffee table with drawers or small round or block storage ottomans or pouffes that are perfect for storing items with the added benefit of providing additional seating.
Baskets. Baskets are all the rage now and come in all shapes, sizes, and designs to match any interior. They often easily fit underneath tables or in unused corners and are an ideal way to stylishly store items that don’t need to be seen, but regularly used such as small electronics, remotes, chargers, books/magazines, pet/child toys and much more.
Sheer fabric window treatments. The biggest challenge with living in a studio apartment is space. Too much clutter and bulky furniture results in a cramped and stressful living situation. However, you can cast the illusion of a larger space with lighting: White light tricks the mind into seeing a more expansive area, whereas yellow light creates a smaller but cozier atmosphere.
If you are looking to expand, one way to do this is by installing sheer fabric window treatments. The delicate material, which comes in all styles and colors, allows natural sunlight to filter through into the room. Thus, your studio will feel less like a hole and more like a place to call home.
Pop up dining and working. If space doesn’t allow for both living and dining areas, consider a small fold down wall mounted table until you need it either for dining or working on your laptop. Another advantage is that many of these types of units offer small shelving space to hold items in the folded down state. You can hang two fold-down chairs next to it.
Vertical Bedroom Ideas. One of the most important things you can do to create more space in the sleeping area is adding risers to lift your bed. It immediately opens up storage space under your bed, which is the perfect place to store items you don’t have room for or use frequently.
Loft beds aren’t just for kids! They make grown-up versions that create space underneath, perfect for your home office or dressers. This is particularly helpful in a studio apartment.
Use shoe bags to store miscellaneous items like cleaning supplies and hang it on the inside door of a closet.
Secret litter box. Studio apartments act as a bedroom, kitchen, and living space all jam-packed into one room. Many people find the smell and ungodly sight of messy cat litter unattractive, especially in the place where they eat. Sure, you could shove it into the bathroom, but no one wants cat litter stuck to their feet after taking a shower. Plus, what if you do not have space?
Furthermore, to ensure a smell-free room, clean the box out once a day, sprinkle baking soda into the litter, and keep an air freshener nearby. Cat lovers should not let having little space deter them from sharing a studio with their furry friends.
Marlène Fao – My Mindful Home
In a studio apartment, less yet smart furniture is definitely better. It is important to select good quality and materials that the user will love using every day and ideally functional furniture that can have multiple usages.
For example, a 2 seater table that can be extended to fit 4 people. The walls are a key location to decorate in a studio: Hanged on walls, mirrors will provide the effect that the room is bigger than it really is.
Wall-hung coat hooks will be a good choice compared to a free-standing coat hanger. Wall-hung shelves and storage units will provide a visual focal point that is also functional for everyday living.
I like when an entire wall, from floor to ceiling, is used as a functional area with:
- display shelves with a TV in the middle
- a curated visual display with books, Decoration items,
- hidden storage places with sliding doors for everyday objects to be tucked away.
Those types of functional storage areas can be bought in a furniture store or custom-built if the budget allows.
Amber Guyton – Blessed Little Bungalow
Decorating can seem challenging, especially when you have limited space. If you’re trying to figure out how to squeeze your 2,500 sq ft life into a 500 sq ft studio, start by following these three easy tips:
1. Declutter like a Minimalist
When living in a studio, it’s best to move in with the minimum. Sift through your belongings and narrow it down to the basics. Furniture should be limited to your bed and somewhere to sit, work and eat. Then sell or donate everything that doesn’t have a practical purpose or bring you joy. Moving in with the minimum and not feeling cramped with clutter will give you an immediate sense of relief.
2. Keep it Light and Airy
To make your studio feel spacious, the room should be light and bright. Take full advantage of natural light from windows and hang neutral or sheer curtains high to elevate the eye. Also, maximize your square footage by separating and defining each space (e.g. bed, dining table, reading chair), use elevated furniture (e.g. beds and TV consoles with legs) and store things away in baskets, cabinets and closets. The more you can see the floor, the bigger the studio will feel.
3. Personalize to Your Taste
When you come home, you want the studio to feel like it’s yours, not a budget hotel or college dorm room. Select a simple color palette for the entire apartment that gives you good energy and decorate with personal items that reflect your identity. A gallery wall or picture ledge with framed photos or artwork is a great place to start. Also, accessorize your bed and seating with plump pillows that add comfort and color.
My favorite decorating idea for a studio apartment is using removable wallpaper. Studios are small and need a WOW factor.
Using a large bold print, like a floral design, would definitely add some finesse to the studio space.
And the best part is you can peel it from the wall without damaging the wall. Big impact for a small space.
Allison Bean – The Spruce
The key to studio apartment living (and decorating) is creating distinct spaces for sleeping, working and hanging out.
Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you’re stuck with plain white walls. Use paint or wallpaper to make a feature wall, which helps create separation between your spaces. There are so many great removable wallpaper brands now, which are perfect for renters (or indecisive people).
Curtains are another smart way to split up your space. Using sheer curtains can keep your bedroom area private without blocking out sunlight or making your space feel smaller.
For teeny, tiny studio dwellers, consider a Murphy bed. Your mattress folds up into the wall, which frees up floor space (and keeps people from sitting on your bed). Alternatively, you could also use a good air mattress.
Closets can be scarce in a studio apartment, so when buying furniture, look for multipurpose pieces, like an ottoman that has storage space inside. Consider storing items in nontraditional ways, too. Add hooks inside of cabinet doors to create hanging storage or install shelving in unusual places, like, above a door, to make another storage nook.
Erica Reiner – Eco Method Interiors
Studio apartments are tricky. The main goal is to make the space seem as large and functional as possible.
My second favorite thing to do in studios is building a next-level platform bed, with built-in storage or closets underneath. The way to maximize a platform bed would include space for a nightstand item, and to make the storage underneath really accessible and well lit.
Katie Gutierrez – Errez Design Studio
Studio apartments benefit greatly from things that offer expansiveness. Our favorite trick to achieve this is to add a wall to wall mirror. It adds so much depth and expanse to a space and you don’t have to sacrifice art hanging either. Consider hanging art right over the wall to wall mirror. Check out this picture of how we did that in this apartment’s dining area:
Without the mirror, in this project, the expansiveness of the view would have been broken up by a big white wall. That would have flattened the view.
Linda Fennessy – Kitchen Magic
For small studio apartments, keep the décor of similar color palette and shade. If cabinets are white, make the décor items in white, cream, beige.
Big and bold colors will ‘cut through’ the design, creating breaks that the eye will have to hesitate when taking in the decor. This interruption in a small apartments décor will only make it look busy.
If the living furniture is brown, choose wood or gold décor items to create a cohesive palette that even a Designer eye will be attracted to.
For pillows, throws, and even rugs maintain the same palette, for brown furniture, choose dark fall color or a slightly lighter brown. A broad spectrum of color will give a small studio that ‘cluttered effect’ which is not ideal in small space.
Darcy Segura – 5miles
Art and area rugs. Look for original art and antique rugs, which can add a lot of character to your space. (Note: I buy art almost exclusively at estate or yard sales, secondhand/thrift shops, or antique stores because not only can you find unique pieces, but often better prices than you would find on prints.)
Sectionals and convertibles. A stylish pullout and modest room divider, for example, are great for conserving space while compartmentalizing a studio for privacy. Another trick is to place a freestanding bookshelf or console in the middle of a room vs. up against a wall. With a 360-degree design, or made of a more transparent material like rattan, this can break up but still not close off your studio space.
Strategically-placed mirrors. Freestanding or handing mirrors, in all shapes and sizes, can give a studio space added dimension and the illusion that the space is bigger.
Some other techniques to maximize space within a studio apartment:
Under-the-Bed or rollaway storage. You can use plastic containers for off-season fashion (gloves, beanies, bathing suits, beach wraps, etc.). Create a box for bathroom supplies you don’t use every day to create or conserve space. When you’re done, cover it all with a cute bed skirt.
Daria Bunting – I Dare-ya Designs
When it comes to designing for small spaces, like a studio apartment, it is best to find pieces that function and work in many ways. Like a sofa with hidden storage, ottomans that can be used for more seating & storage, furniture pieces that change in function when you need them too. It is great to use the height of a room, built in wall units for storage.
One of my favorite companies that I have come across that has great pieces that change is Resource Furniture. They make great wall bed units that change into your home office by a simple lift.
They carry a great dining room table that can grow from 2 seating table into 6 seating table. The extra chairs fold small and can be tucked away.
I love a good colorful ottoman that has storage like Amelia Tufted Storage Ottoman by Inmod. A studio apartment can function as a one bedroom with adjustable furnishings.
I love the challenge of decorating small spaces, many furniture stores now carry pieces with small spaces in mind, smaller sized sofas, chairs, and tables.
A small space can be very comfortable and cozy when planned out well at the start. I always think about how do you want the space to feel, function and live.
Abra Landau – Fashion Furniture
Use Wasted Space
Is there space above your doors? Put shelves there. A corner behind the door? You’ve got room for a small corner unit, or if not that, a tension rod with hanging baskets.
Go up and down the walls all the way with shelves, magnetic bars for knives and kitchen tools, and other storage solutions. If you can’t drill into the walls, no problem; try command strips and other non-damaging fasteners.
Robin Buck – Refresh Interiors
Effective lighting is key in maximizing small spaces.
Not much space in your bedroom? Mount a gooseneck to the wall by your bed for reading. That will leave your small bedside table free for other necessities.
Visually raise your ceiling and expand your space by flooding it with light with an uplight floor can lamp. Install a grow-light bulb and tuck one near your houseplants for thriving greenery. Plus the light through the leaves will cast beautiful patterns on your walls and ceiling!
Afix cordless self-adhesive touch lights under kitchen cabinets to improve task lighting. Also great in dark closets.
Eric Gustafson – Pure Modern
One studio apartment decorating idea is to find a way to elevate your sleeping space. One way to do this is to put your bed on a platform and use the area underneath as an office space. Not only can it add dimension to your studio apartment but it also can give a space solution as well.
Another great idea for a studio apartment is to use some type of room dividers to break up your space. Depending on the shape and size of the apartment you could use room dividers to section off your bedroom from the living room or office. This idea can make your apartment feel like it is bigger while having fun picking out the style of room divider that can add a little flair to your space.
Lauren Visco – DesignBridge
Here are some of my favorite ways to decorate a studio apartment:
1. Screening: Being short on square footage can mean that the foot of your bed is in your kitchen aisle. A foldable screen in a fun pattern or a couple of larger leaf-ed plants can provide some much-needed privacy. (And hide your bed from guests when you forget to fluff the pillows 🙂
2. Small cocktail tables: Creating a nook with a smaller armchair and side table will give visitors a place to sit and give you an added option to curate the perfect vignette for reading/watching a movie.
3. Bistro dining: A high top bistro table with two barstools can provide just the right amount space needed for your morning coffee. In the city, the apartments often have higher ceilings so adding in the taller furniture pieces will give the room some visual variety and hierarchy.
When decorating your apartment, it’s more than just looks. You can use your decor to improve your health and overall wellbeing, reduce stress, get a better nights sleep and even fight less with your spouse.
There are many ways to approach wellness to design in your home, but even something as simple as how and where you use color can have a major impact on mood.
Avoid painting walls red or bright yellows, both of which can lead to anger and irritability, especially in children.
If you love these colors, use them as accent colors in art or your decor, like a vase or a painting to brighten up your room.
Ana Zuravliova – Blinds Direct
Creating zones. If the studio is spacious, then you could use colors and contrasts to define different zones.
In a smaller space, be careful to not clash floor and wall colors, which may appear harsh and crowded. Instead, split with space up different textures, colors and themes. You could also use rugs to ‘draw the lines’ and plants to add volume and depth.
If you are looking to split the bedroom area from the kitchen and living area, you could simply place a divider, bookshelf or a screen. Screens are becoming very trendy and there are plenty to choose from, including classic fabric or a modern, industrial, metal-framed piece.
Also, consider fixing a curtain pole between the spaces and hanging a curtain in a thin airy fabric. This provides a level of privacy without cluttering precious space.
Storage. This is vital for a studio apartment, as you don’t have any other rooms to hide various belongings and bits-and-bobs. Try to think outside the box and incorporate hidden storage with your sofa, coffee table, and bed.
Ottomans and storage trunks also work well. Also, you could arrange shelves over the doors, which from the first sight will stay unnoticed. These shelves could be as wide as necessary and hold stylish storage boxes.
Light and air. Try to keep your studio apartment bright and airy with lots of natural daylight. In a bigger studio, you could also continue the zoned atmosphere effect with different levels of lights.
Mila Talibov – Studio Verticale
Studio apartments can be as complete and superbly functional as their spacier counterparts with designated bedrooms. Here are a few tips on how to maximize the use of studio space and decorate at the same time:
Privacy can be achieved through the use of room dividing partitions or modular walls. Which, in turn, can be made of clever materials, such as glass that offers a great number of decorating options, like etching or color lacquering or custom designs.
To that, add a special hardware finish and you have a custom solution that’s both functional and decorative!
Modern transformable and space saving furniture can double as your sleeping space and a living room sofa or an office desk. Contemporary Italian wall beds come with an assortment of attachment options, such as a sofa or a desk or a dining table and usually come in a variety of materials with many finish options.
Clothes wardrobes offer ample storage. A lot of components can be housed inside, such as drawer chests and laundry baskets, shelves and hanging rods and a TV. A multitude of decorating options is available for all wardrobe components, exterior, and interior. Put sliding doors on your wardrobe to keep the entire composition within its perimeter when accessing what’s inside.
The best thing you can do in a studio apartment is to ensure each piece of furniture can take on as many jobs as possible.
- Your desk can act as a dining table.
- Your bookshelves act a room divider/storage unit/entertainment center.
- Your coffee table acts as a linen closet to hold spare bedding for guests.
- Your sofa is, of course, a pullout.
- Your bedside table doubles as a filing cabinet.
- Your bedframe doubles as a dresser or shoe storage.
Ensuring that your furniture can do double and triple duty means that you need fewer pieces in your studio, and it will feel more spacious without the sacrifice of the things you need at hand.
Sandra Moreno – Studio No. 8
Studio apartments require strategic furniture purchases, especially in New York City. I often choose pieces that are acrylic so they don’t take up visual space like the CB2 Acrylic Coffee Table or Bar Stools.
I also love to use pieces that are multi-purpose which maximize space like the leaning mirror from Urban Outfitters – a mirror and a place to hang your coat, bags or a throw blanket – fun, cool and functional!
I also like to keep the walls white because it makes the space seem more spacious. You can add color with accents like colorful pillows, a throw blanket, a plant, and some art.
Brynne Rinderknecht – From the Inside
Below are a couple of my favorite apartment decorating ideas:
1. It’s important to display your individual sense of creative spirit in your studio apartment. This could be achieved by creating a gallery wall of collected art, memories from your travels, a text word or quote or perhaps just one main focal piece that inspires you.
Additionally, by adding even just one, fresh green plant, the edges of the space soften and instantly makes you feel more alive.
2. It’s all about finding the right rug to get comfortably barefoot on at home. A sizable rug, made of all natural fibers, will ground the space and make your studio feel larger and purposefully pulled together.
My number one favorite decorating idea in a studio apartment is to create the illusion of separate spaces.
Another decorating idea to create a separation of spaces is to install a drapery track or rod on the ceiling and use a beautiful fabric as the “wall”. I have also seen gorgeous panels and even old fencing with custom designs either hung from the ceiling or held in place with tension feet on both ends. All of these ideas are easily removable and are usually not violating any rental agreements.