Studio Apartment Decorating Ideas

By: Jo Montgomery

When it comes to studio apartments or any apartments for that matter, it’s not about the square footage, it’s all about style and creativity. With so many realizing that a home doesn’t have to be big to be beautiful, the smart and economical studio apartment is more popular than ever. But just how do you go from a larger living space to a studio apartment? How do you decorate it and make it cozy? How do you make it fab on the cheap? We’ve got answers to all of these questions, and more.  

What’s a studio apartment?

Great question! There are many different types of studio apartments, but the most common definition tells us that it’s the smallest type of apartment. It typically features only one main room that functions as a bedroom, kitchen, living room, and dining room. The bathroom is its own room. So, technically, the apartment has two rooms – a living area and a bathroom. 

The average size of a studio apartment in the United States is around 600 square feet, but that can vary greatly depending on the building age and architecture, and the city you’re in. However, it isn’t the size of the apartment that makes it feel spacious and even cozy, it’s the way it’s laid out, decorated, and the use of light – the more windows the better.


What’s the best way to decorate a studio apartment?

Just like people, every studio apartment has its own personality. The most important thing to remember is; never to be afraid to get creative with your space. And don’t let your budget define you. Most of the best studio apartment design ideas can be done on the cheap. Again, it’s not the size of your wallet that counts but the size of your imagination. And a little elbow grease goes a long way.

How do you decorate a studio apartment for cheap?

As we’ve said, decorating your studio apartment is more about creativity, style, and elbow grease. You don’t need to drain your bank account to have a home you’re proud of. You can use furniture, artwork, and decorative pieces you already have. Even an inexpensive can of paint will work magic. Here are some low or no-cost ideas guaranteed to work every time.

Bookshelves make great room dividers. The open floorplan of a studio apartment can make it hard to define areas like your sleeping, living, and eating areas. So, carve out separate areas using a bookshelf or even a large piece of furniture like a dresser. 

Establish an accent wall. An accent wall will instantly create visual interest as well as define the area it’s in. You can paint the wall a complementary color, or put up some wallpaper if allowed. Once done, it can do double duty as a giant piece of art.

Mirrors add square footage. A properly placed mirror, hung on a wall or leaned up against one, will give the illusion that your studio apartment is twice as big as it is. And use plenty of them – the more the better. Mirrors give the impression of wide-open space.  

Embrace BIG art. Even if your studio apartment is tiny, you don’t need to shy away from big beautiful art. Large, bold art doesn’t make a small space feel smaller, it adds interest, beauty and can define a space.

Use curtains to define space. They are one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to define spaces. Light and gauzy curtains around your bed work to define your sleeping area, while heavier curtains provide more privacy. And they can be pushed back and out of the way during the day to open things right up.

How do you arrange furniture in a studio apartment?

When it comes to making your studio apartment look bigger, it has less to do with the type of furniture and more to do with placement. Even so, if you have the opportunity to purchase some new furniture, we also have a few things to keep in mind. 

Double-Duty Furniture is the way to go. In a studio apartment, it makes perfect sense to choose as many double-duty pieces of furniture as you can. For instance, don’t just buy a bed, buy one with built-in storage underneath. If you don’t have room for a proper dining table, pick a coffee table that’s big enough for you to sit at when you have your meals. Some even rise up to full table height so you can put chairs around them. If you’re going to buy a couch, buy a sofa bed so you’ll have an additional sleeping area for when you have company. And, a sofa table can serve as a perfect office area when you pull a comfortable armchair up to it. 

Use your furniture to define spaces. Since the main room of a studio apartment has to do the job of a bedroom, living room, and kitchen, defining the spaces is key. And the placement of your furniture is how you do it. Use couches and armchairs to box off your living room area. The headboard of your bed can separate your sleeping area. And, use your rugs and coffee tables to help anchor your areas.

Use your vertical space.  In a studio apartment, you need to fully utilize your vertical space. So, buy furniture that is tall rather than wide or deep. Look for tall and thin shelves or storage systems. And don’t overlook any usable space. Shelves can be installed above doorways or windows for storage and visual interest.

Show your legs! To give the illusion of more space, choose couches and chairs with visible legs. Furniture that has material draped over the legs can feel heavy. That visual space between the floor and your furniture actually makes your floor plan feel more open.

Push your furniture to the edges. If you place your couch or your bed in the middle of the room, it can block your space from one end to the other. By placing them against the walls you avoid the claustrophobic feel and keep from wasting any space.

Choose quality over quantity. When buying furniture for your studio apartment, buy a few functional, quality pieces instead of many. For instance, if you have the choice between two small couches and one large one, go for the latter. Clutter will make any space feel smaller.


How to create a work from home space in a studio apartment

With more and more of us working from home, we need our workspace to be not only comfortable and functional but stylish. Here are a few tips to create the ultimate home office.

Paint a tranquil tone. You may love bold colors, but to achieve a soothing ambiance, you may want to keep your color palette airy and light. Lighter colors also make any area feel larger. 

Marry function and style. Your desk, chair, and storage don’t need to look utilitarian. Pick pieces that look great on their own. Of course, make sure they’re comfortable and ergonomic as well.

Add some greenery. Studies show us that even a little greenery can boost our productivity and happiness levels. Plants add color and have the power to make any space more inviting. 

Create a place for gadgets. A stylish basket or colorful carved wooden box is the perfect place to store the things that can distract you during the workday – like your phone. The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that having your smartphone accessible reduces your work productivity. So, when you’re not using it, put it away. 

What to look for in a studio apartment

Here are a few things to look for during your studio apartment search to make sure you find a space that fits you to a “T”.

Vertical space. The rule of thumb for studio apartments is to look for vertical space. Since you’ll have limited horizontal space, your vertical space is that much more important. High ceilings make your apartment feel larger, but also give you room for storage and to hang things.

Storage. It doesn’t take much for a small space to feel cluttered. So, look for ample closets and on-site storage as one of the amenities that comes with your unit. This way you have plenty of space to keep the things you aren’t using at the moment.

Lots of natural light. A brighter room just feels larger. Having plenty of windows will make your studio apartment feel bigger than it actually is. Keep in mind that windows that face north or south won’t provide direct sunlight – which might be your preference. Windows that face east and west are sure to give you the maximum amount of light.

Full-size appliances. Just because you have less square footage shouldn’t mean you have to put up with mini-appliances. You should look for a normal-sized refrigerator and stove. And if you can find a studio with a dishwasher, an in-unit washer, and a dryer you’ve hit the jackpot!

Sufficient livable space. Yes, studio apartments are small, but you need to feel comfortable in your home. Make sure you have enough square footage to section off your bedroom, living room, and eating areas. No matter what the square footage, you need to feel like you’re at home and not living in a shoebox.
Armed with this information, you are ready to go out and find the perfect small but mighty studio apartment for you.