Properly using the space in a studio apartment can pose some challenges, especially with minimal square footage and limited floor plans. But you can maximize any small space with intentional furniture placement, multiuse decor, and creative design tricks.
All it takes is patience and time. By logically planning your space and carefully selecting the right design ideas, you’ll be able to transform your studio apartment into a magnificent-looking home!
This guide features tips, tricks, and inspiration to help you start planning your dream apartment layout today. It’s not as challenging as it may seem, and the work you put into creating this space will be more than worth the effort.
Tips and tricks for choosing a studio apartment layout
Sometimes all you need is a bit of inspiration to spark new ideas and open up a world of possibilities. Below, you’ll find some fantastic studio apartment layouts and small-space living tips to help you design a top-notch space.
Finding the right small home layout and furnishing your apartment is exciting, so have fun with it!
1. Create different zones
“One of the most common pitfalls when designing a studio apartment is treating the space as a single room,” explains Grace Baena. “Giving each space a purpose and specific design is a great way to delineate ‘rooms’ out of a studio apartment and make it feel larger.”
Creating zones can transform the look and feel of your apartment. Try using tall bookcases or large shelves as double-duty dividers that add much-needed storage space. For example, you might use a big bookshelf to separate your living and sleeping areas.
Alternately, try using area rugs to enhance your home and define zones. They’re a great way to incorporate patterns and color schemes into your home decor while making the room feel more comfortable. Area rugs also help ground and anchor furniture pieces while protecting your floors (and your security deposit).
“You can also create a division between your bedroom and the rest of your space with room dividers and curtains. This helps create zones and maximize your space,” explains Stacy Lewis.
For example, you might use room dividers to separate your dining area and your bedroom or living room. The key is to pick curtains and screens that look clean, simple, and sleek. Sometimes less is more, so don’t go for crazy colors or patterns — instead, look to minimalist, mid-century modern, and Scandinavian designs for inspiration.
2. Consider Floating Your Sofa
Many people make the mistake of thinking that everything needs to be against the wall in a tiny studio apartment to make the space feel larger. But professional studio apartment design ideas often use well-placed floating furniture to create a flow while dividing different areas.
Floating furniture means positioning it in the middle of a room, away from the walls. And a floating couch can make your apartment feel much more spacious while opening up more floor space for different layouts.
A studio apartment doesn’t need a standard home design just because it’s small; don’t let your home’s square feet limit you! The options are endless when you think outside the box. Many brands, styles, and sizes work perfectly with studio apartment decor.
3. Be Strategic with your Bed and Sofa Placements
When planning your space and layout, be strategic about where to put your sofa and bed, especially if you have a one-room apartment. For example, place the bed and sofa at opposite ends of the room to create visual separation, if possible.
This placement helps prevent the “hotel feel,” defining two separate areas rather than making it all look like one room. Remember, you can do a reversible remodel, using a shelf as a room divider and creating a cozy bedroom that’s completely separate from your living room.
Regardless of your layout, it’s always a good idea to make things match to create visual harmony. So check out different sofas and bed frames, and start thinking of design options, colors, and styles. And look for furniture that’s proportionate to the size of the space — you don’t want anything so big that it takes over and obstructs the flow. Loveseats and daybeds, for example, work well in studio apartments.
4. Use Vertical Space
“Vertical expansion is key to organizing a studio apartment,” says Challie Stillman. “Walls are precious real estate in your studio, not merely places to hang pictures. Use your walls for practical purposes: hang a bicycle, hang your folding chairs, or mount a fold-down table or desk. And if you’re stretched for wall space, look to the backs of your doors as an alternative.”
Use your walls for practical purposes: hang a bicycle, hang your folding chairs, or mount a fold-down table or desk.
Tall or floating shelves open up endless possibilities. And if your studio apartment has high ceilings, why not consider furthering your living space and building it higher up? For example, you might create a loft-style bed with stairs for easy access, giving you extra space below the bed.
5. Make Use of Every Nook and Cranny
You cannot afford to waste space in a studio apartment, so think practically and use everything you can. Use all of your corners, recesses, wall space, and floor space to create different zones.
“Storage will count for a lot here, so minimize clutter with stacking, slim-profile storage bins,” recommends Grace Baena. “Consider leaving windows bare since natural light expands a space while curtains make spaces seem smaller.”
6. Opt for Leggy Furniture
Using tall furniture that stands off the ground can also make the whole apartment look and feel more spacious. This is because when furniture sits on the floor, it visually looks like it takes up more space compared to furniture with thin legs.
In addition, leggy furniture doesn’t take up as much space. Consider getting a leggy coffee table for your living room and a leggy dining table and chair set for your dining area.
The exception to this rule is if your studio has lower ceilings. In this case, you might want furniture that’s low to the ground. The combination of low ceilings and furniture can create the illusion that everything is taller than it actually is.
7. Choose Flexible, Multifunctional Furniture
Flexible furniture is key when furnishing a studio apartment. Maximize your space with pieces that provide hidden storage and multifunctional uses. This will make your home look very put together while helping eliminate clutter.
“Having multifunctional pieces of furniture is always a plus when dealing with small spaces,” says Rachel Robarge, Head of Design at June Homes. “Beds with extra storage and tables that can expand when needed are some of my favorites.”
For example, you might look for a spacious wall-mounted desk that doubles as a dining table for two or a Murphy bed that stores itself. Other fantastic ideas include storage ottomans, sofa beds, and movable closets.
“With multifunctional pieces, you can still have a dining room, living room, or home office space whenever you need it; it’s like gaining a whole room.
“Multipurpose furnishings — like coffee tables that lift and extend into dining tables or wall beds that fold away to reveal a sofa or desk — keep your space functional and stylish,” explains Challie Stillman. “With multifunctional pieces, you can still have a dining room, living room, or home office space whenever you need it; it’s like gaining a whole room.”
If you have any ugly areas in your apartment, try covering them up with mirrors, artwork, and furniture. It’s all about getting creative and working with what you have — if a wall hanging covers up a spot on your wall that you dislike, it’s officially dual-purpose!
8. Consider Sofa Beds and Wall Beds
Some studio apartments are smaller than others — in New York, for example, you could be looking at a micro apartment with less than 100 square feet!
A sofa bed or wall bed could be a game-changer if your space is on the smaller side. Sofa beds offer an innovative way to save space and can be very comfortable. And wall beds often feature integrated secondary functions, like built-in sofas and tables.
“I like to use a bed that can be hidden away during the day, opening floor space for other activities,” says Challie Stillman. “To me, wall beds are the ideal choice for studio apartments, as they can be completely concealed when not in use. But unlike futons, they usually feature a real mattress on a bamboo slatted bed base — no metal bar pressing into your back!”
If you don’t otherwise have room for a desk or seating area, Challie recommends a wall bed like Resource Furniture’s LGM. This fan-favorite piece features a full-height bookcase and an optional fold-down desk to create a fully-equipped home office. And at night, it revolves on a track to reveal a queen bed with built-in integrated nightstands.
9. Be Creative to Meet Your Needs
“Be creative with your space solutions. In this example (pictured below), my former studio apartment, I ended up removing the closet doors and creating a workspace by adding a desk into the alcove,” explains Aimee Wertepny.
This simple, creative solution allowed Aimee to add a dedicated workspace without taking up too much room with a large desk. This approach uses the idea of separating your spaces visually without the use of walls, which calls for some creativity.
The black wall in the closet helps separate the space, and she used the same approach with the kitchen. She also added a dream catcher-like wall hanging between the bedroom and living space to distinguish the two.
It’s all about customizing your studio apartment layout ideas to fit your style, needs, and space. Aimee also recommends playing with sculptural furniture, curvy mirrors, hidden storage options, creative lighting options, and mid-century modern elements.
10. Avoid Bright Colors
“When you have limited space, such as in a studio apartment, avoid coloring your walls with bright and warm shades. Instead, opt for neutral and pastel hues,” recommends Stacy Lewis. “Bright colors and warm shades can make your small space look cramped. The same goes for the color of your furniture.”
Again, mid-century, minimalist, and Scandi designs can provide fantastic inspiration. When designing a color scheme, try to stick to bright, neutral tones and use a couple of pastels to introduce color. If you want to add something bright or bold, do it with a single accent piece.
You can still have fun with colors, though! For example, you might use one or two pastels to create color block designs.
“If allowed, I recommend color-blocking with paint in a corner or on one wall as a creative way to add personality into your studio and distinguish different spaces,” says Aimee Wertepny. “Color-blocking is an easier alternative to full paint jobs because it isn’t as much work to paint over a small area when your lease ends.”
11. Use Mirrors to Create Space
Mirrors can make most studio apartment layout ideas look larger. This is because they open up small spaces by reflecting your apartment, creating the illusion of an extra room. The trick is to position the mirror to reflect attractive, neat areas of your space — if the mirror reflects clutter, it’ll only make your space look messier.
Positioning a mirror to reflect a bright window or well-lit area has the added benefit of making your entire apartment look brighter. This is an excellent solution for spaces that feel dark or gloomy.
You can also use mirrors to hide unsightly bundles of cables and ugly areas that you can’t eliminate. For example, placing a mirror over a damaged wall will reflect and amplify areas of your studio that you like while hiding the spot you dislike.
“Curvy mirrors are all the rage right now,” adds Aimee Wertepny. “Curves add an organic feminine touch against any strong angles or natural finishes. So, if your studio is industrial or ultra-modern, they can soften up the space really nicely.”
Make the most of your space
Don’t let your small space cramp your style — use these studio apartment layout ideas as inspiration to create something you love. You can create a comfortable, beautiful home in even the smallest studio apartments.
Remember, if you want a comfortable, multifunctional studio apartment, it’s all about allocating space according to how you’ll use it. With a bit of careful planning, you can still fit in a living room, kitchen, and all the essentials you’ll find in a larger home.
Using these ideas, tips, and tricks as your guide, you’re ready to design and furnish your apartment to create a space you’ll love. And remember to look for ways to let your unique personality shine using statement pieces.
What are the dos and don’ts of designing a small studio apartment?
You can overcome any space planning challenge with the right design tactics. So we asked some of the experts about the dos and don’ts of studio apartment layout ideas, and here’s what they had to say:
DO consider what you need from the space before designing and defining the zones.
DO look for creative storage solutions and multipurpose pieces to maximize your space.
DO measure accurately for best results.
DO use creative lighting options and converters to transform outdated recessed light fixtures.
DO opt for furniture with a slim or tall design to maximize vertical space.
DON’T waste space with oversized furniture (for example, queen-sized beds consume a lot of square footage).
DON’T assume you can only use small-scale furniture (this can make the space appear smaller).
DON’T sacrifice the style and quality of your design and furnishings.
DON’T go overboard with lots of objects, wall decor, or furniture (this can create clutter and a claustrophobic atmosphere).
“Know that living in minimal square footage can be a lifestyle adjustment,” explains Kristy DeGina, founder of interior design studio franklin ave. “Prioritize your goals for a functional space and focus on your top needs first. For example, custom and creative storage solutions will help maximize your space and conceal your everyday things!”
How do I choose the best furniture for a studio apartment?
You don’t need to sacrifice style for small-space living. Instead, Kristy DeGina recommends investing in quality furniture, just as you would for a larger home. And since you’ll need less of it, you’ll likely have an easier time budgeting.
When deciding between a sofa, loveseat, settee, or accent chairs, ask yourself:
Do you want to entertain in the space?
Do you want a comfy lounge?
Do you work from home in this space?
“Select aesthetically-pleasing pieces that will function well in your space,” adds Amy Youngblood. “This seems obvious, but by doing so, there’s less need for decor to bring the space together, which leads to clutter. For example, you might opt for a clean and simple couch and add an accent chair or pillows with a fun print.”
Where do I put my bed in a studio?
It’s often best to place your bed as far away from your front door as possible. This helps make your bedroom feel like a secluded spot, making your sleeping area more restful. You can emphasize the getaway atmosphere by placing your bed in a corner or against a wall.
Additionally, consider separating your bedroom using a dresser or a shelf for privacy. Depending on your available space, a loft bed or an elevated bed might help create more room. And, as we mentioned earlier, sofa beds and wall beds are excellent choices for small spaces.
Where do I put my TV in a studio apartment?
The best spot for your TV will depend on your floor plan and the size of your living area. Here are some quick ideas:
Tuck your TV into a corner to take up less room.
Use your TV as a divider to break up zones.
Place your TV on or inside a cabinet to take advantage of vertical space or hidden storage.
Mount your TV on the wall with a swing arm that moves between your living area and bedroom for a multifunctional approach.
If possible, avoid placing your TV in front of a window to prevent glare. Use light-colored sheer curtains if this is your only option, as too much sunlight on your TV can lead to damage.
What are the best lighting options for a studio apartment?
“There are many creative ways to light a space if you aren’t getting the light you need,” says Aimee Wertepny. “I suggest using converters for recessed lights to add pendant lighting or getting plug-ins for track lighting to hang additional light sources.”
Aimee notes that lightweight pendant lights and adjustable floor lamps that can be easily adjusted and moved are often the best options in smaller spaces. And if you’re a fan of mid-century modern styling, you might opt for a bubble or globe lamp. Circular lighting works well with mid-century interiors because it offsets the geometric angles commonly found in this style’s furniture.
If you don’t have the wiring options for these ideas, you can also create the illusion of light fixtures with hanging plants or mobile-like artwork.
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