Studio apartments get a bad rep. They’re notorious for their compact, can-we-try-to-leave-room-for-jesus nooks and minimalist layouts. Your kitchen and bedroom also merge into this awkward dining/relaxation hybrid that you never asked for or wanted.
I first moved into what I like to call my “cozy” studio apartment near the city about a year ago. There’s a twist, though. I moved in with my boyfriend….yeah, I know, 2 people, 1 studio. What were you guys thinking? I’ll never forget the look on the leasing agent’s face when she realized that we were actually going to live in the 351 sq. ft. space. She looked at me sympathetically as we signed the leasing papers. “Well, sweetie, “I’m sure you guys will spend most of your time outside anyway, right?”
Eh, not so much.
Alejandro and I didn’t have enough money to afford a 1 bedroom apartment. We were also homebodies and needed to find a way to make the situation work.
So, we researched, got imaginative, and found tricks to make our tiny apartment feel like a home. Here are just a few tips we learned along the way.
1. For maximum space, find the focal point of your apartment. Separate the place into segments, almost as if you’re creating different “rooms” or areas.
Our old studio had a single wall separating the bedroom and living area. However, this apartment is completely open concept. There’s no wall or dividing point at all so we had to get innovative. Alejandro and I knew that a bookshelf would be the perfect faux wall for us (we had a lot of books from college just laying around). The bookshelf turned out to be our “focal point”. We based the rest of the design around it in order to create separation. Our end product was a layout with four sections: the kitchen, dining area, living room/entertainment center, and bedroom.
I think creating a sense of division is the first necessary step in maximizing space. What is the focal point in your room? And how can you utilize this central point in order to create a more efficient layout and a sense of separation? Feeling cooped up was something Alejandro and I struggled with a lot until we learned this first trick.
2. Storage, storage, storage.
Another huge component that comes with maximizing space is how well you store your stuff–after all, no one likes clutter. Target was a saving grace for Alejandro and me. At the time, we didn’t have enough money to buy our furniture from somewhere like Art Van Furniture or Ashley’s. Our organizer shelf came in super handy and we were able to store kitchen essentials in cute little storage bins. They’re pretty adorable, tidy, and cheap–only $9 each! You don’t have to break the bank to style and organize your apartment.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of shelves and coatracks! Before buying our coatrack, there wasn’t enough space in the apartment four our things. We tended to lazily throw our coats over kitchen chairs or the sofa. This gave us both–especially me–anxiety. With a little bit of strategic storage, you can create an entirely different environment in your apartment, one that you’ll want to come home to.
3. Decorate your place to encourage a cozy environment and a feeling of home.
Feel free to go crazy with this step, you’re in complete charge of your home! Again, there’s no need to spend a ton of money. Check out deals at Walmart, Target, HomeGoods, or Big Lots. Wait until you see sales on knick knacks that you think would work with your style. Make sure to add just a couple of items at a time. For example, my grandmother decorated her cabinet with tiny houses during Christmas time. I marveled at the little village she created through the years and I wanted to give our apartment a little bit of Christmas magic. I bought a Mini Log Cabin and added my own style by hanging a wreath on our door. Both of these items were less than $20 and made both Alejandro and me smile.
Speaking of decoration, a bed tends to be the center of a studio apartment just because of its sheer size. I noticed that our furniture mostly consisted of cooler colors and grey tones. We needed some more pizzazz so we bought this patterned yellow comforter set.
At first, I didn’t know how to feel about it but now I’m in love with the set. It adds the perfect “pop” of color that we were looking for without straying away from our aesthetic.
4. Get creative with furniture–don’t be afraid of the unconventional!
Remember that bookshelf I told you about earlier? My mom absolutely HATED the idea of using it as a wall/dividing space. She thought that it’d close off the place and look awkward. I had already consulted some interior design websites/blogs, though and knew she’d love it. I ended up being right. One weekend, she came over to visit and admitted that it looked lovely in person!
We also had ZERO counter space so we decided to use our organizer shelf as a counter. Cooking automatically became a million times easier because we weren’t prepping all of our meals at the kitchen table. I actually began to enjoy cooking because we created the space. We placed our microwave, blender, and other kitchen appliances on top of it. Honestly, at times I forget that it’s not a counter.
5. Analyze your budget and decide what you can realistically purchase. It’s okay to not have everything right at this very moment. You’ll get there eventually–for now, make the most of what you have!
I struggled a lot with accepting our financial situation in the beginning. We were/are just starting out and don’t always have money to buy the things we want to make the place perfect. Fortunately, we had just enough money to purchase a folding table to use as our kitchen set. At first, I daydreamed of a chocolate wooden table with matching stools. I wanted a soft, inviting look and this felt jarring and bulky. Eventually, I realized that we needed to purchase other things, like a couch, the storage shelves, etc. A kitchen table just wouldn’t have been the right investment.
We still have this folding table sitting distinctly at the front of our apartment. I’m proud of the table because its presence reminds me that we’ve come so far. Since this was the first furniture piece we got together, It’s going to be a little sad replacing it eventually. It’ll definitely stick around, though–perfect for summer garage/outdoor parties, right? Until then, I’m going to keep decorating it with wooden paper towel holders and flowers. 🙂
With these tips, organizing and decorating your studio hopefully won’t seem as overwhelming. Sure, a studio apartment might not be luxurious or ideal, but it’s yours. So, why not show it some love?