Courtney Craig
studio apartment

Small-space living comes with its share of quirks. But when you live in a studio apartment that’s not even big enough to have interior walls, you’ve got an extreme design challenge. How do you arrange it in a way that’s functional, comfortable, and doesn’t make it feel like you live in a cave?


Fortunately, we know that bigger isn’t always better. Here are 9 ways to transform your studio apartment into a small wonder:

1. Create mini-rooms.

Since a studio apartment is often one big room, you have to break up the space into different living areas. If you’ve got a chair and a lamp in one corner as a designated reading area, define that space with a small rug and a picture on the wall. Likewise, arrange your couch and TV as you would in a living room.

2. Carefully divide up the room.

Creating mini-rooms is a great idea, so why not add some actual dividers to make it clearer? This can backfire if you’re using something bulky to divide the room or blocking off paths. A good strategy to avoid that is curtains: they’re light, can easily be pulled out of the way, and can add some color to the apartment.

3. Leave pathways.

You’re going to be cramped on space, but you still have to live in your studio. It’s easy to get from one side to another, but you’ll want to make your walking paths clear and unobstructed. It’s no fun stepping over things just to get from one room to another several times a day.

4. Brighten up the room.

The secret to making your small space feel bigger is light. Let in as much natural sunlight as possible, pulling back or even completely avoiding heavy curtains. Stick with light curtains or blinds you can open and close.

If you don’t have a lot of windows, then you’re going to want to pay attention to light fixtures and bright colors. Make sure that every space has a light source, and paint or otherwise decorate the walls to make them lighter.

5. When looking for storage space, think vertical.

Look up -- there's a lot of storage space in high-up places.
Look up — there's a lot of storage space in high-up places.

A studio doesn’t have a lot of square footage, but you have a lot more cubic feet to work with than you think. Shelves are the easy way to go, but you can get more creative: pegboards on the wall, or if you’re feeling really cramped on space, you can store rarely used items near the ceiling to really get them out of the way.

6. Avoid clutter.

The more stuff you have, the more strain you put on your already cramped space. Get rid of things that aren’t functional or meaningful to you, preferably both. If you’re careful about what you accumulate, you’ll have found the best solution to the problem: not having it in the first place.

7. Use decorations to fake more space.

Restaurants use mirrors to make their interior look larger, and you can do the same. A well-placed mirror can make the apartment look much larger than it really is. If it fits with your décor, look into decorations with stripes – vertical stripes on the walls will make the room look taller.

8. Make your furniture pull double duty.

If you’re really tight on space, you might choose a pull-out couch that becomes your bed at night. You could also go for a coffee table that opens to reveal storage space, or a bed that offers some under-mattress storage space. Anything that doubles up on space is fair game.

Let’s hear from you, studio apartment dwellers! How do you make your small space work for you?

Want more tips? Check out all our posts on small-space living here

Photo credits: 206 Bell, Seattle, WA; Flickr / ClatieK




About The Author

Courtney Craig is an editor and writer for the Apartment Guide Blog. She rented apartments for 12 years in 4 cities before buying her first house in Atlanta. Find Courtney on Google.