Studio apartments have a lot to offer, even though the available space can be skimpy. They're cozy. Don't underestimate the ability of a small space to create intimacy. The trick is to add the other necessary elements, like furniture, color and storage, carefully. It's easy to make a small space look too crowded if you aren't paying attention to detail. You might have way too many things for the space, but then again, they might just be organized incorrectly for the flow of traffic.
1. Keep the Big Stuff Neutral
When you don't have the luxury of lots of space, the first thing you have to do is strategize how you'll make everything work well together. One foolproof way to start is by using a monochromatic palette. It will make the space look larger and will work with, rather than against, the other elements in your design. Choose the same or similar shades for the walls, carpets and drapes. This doesn't have to be a compromise move, even if you love vivid color. Just indulge yourself in your choice of accessories, wall art and textiles.
If this sounds bland, there are hidden benefits you may not have considered. If your studio apartment has odd angles or other irregularities that you want to camouflage, they'll tend to blend into the background when you keep it neutral. A neutral palette will also make it easier to perform seasonal wizardry, like switching out a cherry red area rug for a pastel green option in spring.
2. Buy Furnishings that Fit the Space
Scale is important in rooms that are either too small or too large. Instead of a standard sofa, use a loveseat or two. Take advantage of the ability of glass to blend with its surroundings by using it liberally in your choice of shelving and tables. When you shop for furniture, opt for pieces with onboard storage, like headboard/bookshelf combos, storage ottomans and side tables with built-in drawers. Evaluate the footprint of all the pieces you buy. Once the furniture is in place, you'll still need space to walk around it. Shallow dressers, drop-leaf tables and modular computer desks are easier to incorporate into a small space than their conventional counterparts. Be choosy about what you buy, and look for scaled-down options.
3. Pay Attention to Flow
Your studio apartment design should conform to the flow of traffic in, out, around and through the space. Determine how you and your guests will use the space, and then establish dynamic living areas based on that. The location of the entrance, bath, kitchen, windows and other stationary fixtures will get you started. Defining specific areas with dividers, specialty lighting or carpeting will help anchor the space and create natural breaks and focal points.
4. Get Organized
Studio apartments usually have meager storage, so make the most of modular storage options and clever solutions like space bags and open shelving. Wall-mounted and freestanding shelves can do triple duty as dividers, wall storage and decoration. If they're partly made of glass or glass block, they can also help open up the space and maximize the available light.
Small spaces can make a big impact when you incorporate scale, neutrals and a practical layout into your design. It's a winning combination that's always in style.
Lots More Information
- Bernstein, Fred A. "A Studio That Refuses to Think Small." 3/30/06. 3/14/10http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/30/garden/30pica.html?8hpib
- Freshome.com. "5 Tips for Decorating a Small Studio Apartment." Undated. 6/14/10.http://freshome.com/2009/02/10/5-tips-for-decorating-a-small-studio-apartment/
- Gillingham-Ryan, Maxwell. "Ten Tips for Small Spaces." Apartment Therapy. 2006. 6/14/10.http://www.rentaldecorating.com/0406/ten_tips_for_small_spaces.htm
- Hennen, Leah. "Create Utility in Small Rooms." Undated. 3/14/10.http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/create-utility-in-small-spaces/index.html
- HGTV.com" Less Space Doesn't Mean You Can't Have More Style." Undated. 3/14/10.http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/less-is-more/index.html
- Hillstrom, Susan Boyle. "The Smart Approach to Small-Space Living." Federal Marketing Corp. 2007
- Hlmcdona. "Space Saving Ideas for Small Kitchens." Undated. 3/15/10.http://interiordesign.lovetoknow.com/Space_Saving_Ideas_for_Small_Kitchens
- Home Depot. "Decorating 1-2-3." Meredith Books. 2000
- My Great Home. "Storage Solutions For Your Home." Undated. 6/12/10.http://www.mygreathome.com/indoors/organization/storage.htm
- Petrowski, Elaine Martin. "How to Design Small Baths So They Feel Roomier." Undated. 6/15/10.http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,337003,00.html#
- Walton, Stewart and Sally Walton. "The Complete Home Decorator." Anness Publishing Ltd. 1997
- Weiner, Rachael. "Studio Apartment Decorating Tips." 12/29/09. 6/16/10.http://ohmyapt.apartmentratings.com/studio-apartment-decorating-tips.html