We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Living in a studio apartment is tough, no matter the size of your floor plan. Usually consisting of just one single open room, not only do you have to contend with creating different living (and in 2020, working) zones in the same open space, but you often have to deal with very small spaces, to boot! Thankfully, there are plenty of design tools and tricks anyone can employ to make a small studio apartment work better, from acquiring studio-sized apartment furniture and implementing studio apartment dividers, to installing a Murphy bed.
Storage—or more specifically, the creating and maximizing of storage—is key to making a studio apartment livable, and you’ll find plenty of ideas in the studio apartments below (as well as in this other storage-themed round up of house tours). But hand-in-hand with smart storage ideas is how you lay out your studio apartment, as well. All the studios below master the layout of their furniture and furnishings, despite some challenging floor plan shapes and sizes.
1. This 525-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio Apartment
Emily Edelman is a senior event and experiential designer and has owned this 525-square-foot studio apartment in Fort Greene for five years. “My favorite element of my apartment is one of both form and function: a graphically bold and simple window frame cut from a sheet of matte plastic material,” she wrote in her house tour. “It visually separates my bed area from the living room area of the studio apartment, and it loosely mimics the real casement windows of the apartment. It creates a conceptual barrier in the space without putting up walls, and allows light to beat down on my bed in the morning, which I badly need to wake up.”
2. A 560-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Full of Gorgeous Renter-Friendly Inspiration
Miki Carter is a lawyer by day and an interior design enthusiast by night and runs the inspiring Instagram @plot.twist.interiors. She loves a good treasure hunt and most of her furnishings and decor are second-hand or from Target or IKEA. Her studio apartment’s layout benefits from a bed nook and a separate dining area and kitchen. But mostly her studio apartment is so special because she’s been so intentional with her furnishings. “I like decor items with meaning, and my favorites are those that remind me the most of my friends and family,” she wrote in her house tour.
3. A 400-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio That Fits a Ton of Color in a Small Space
Once Esi Agbemenu found a space worth staying in, she was able to “create a home that reflected me—no choosing furniture just because it was fold-able for a future move, or buying bland decor in the hopes it would be inoffensive to roommates—just a space that is representative of me.” Esi is a hard worker and often busy with her job, and really needed her home to be a sanctuary that gave off the specific vibes she needs. “For me that’s bold colors and fun patterns and more pillows than any one person needs,” she wrote in her house tour.
4. This 272-Square-Foot NYC Studio That Uses an IKEA Clothes Rack in a Cute and Unique Way
Melissa only has 272 square feet in her NYC studio apartment, but the tall ceilings make it feel much larger than it is. But it’s also the way she’s laid out all the furnishings that makes it feel like a comfy and cozy home, using a sofa at the foot of her bed and other small furniture pieces to create a living room seating area. My very favorite small-space trick seen in this studio, though, is the way in which Melissa uses an IKEA clothes rack. “I needed a better solution for hanging heavy plants that didn’t involve hanging them on my curtain tension rod, and this clothing rack fit the bill! I love that it’s the perfect size for my oversized windows and allows me to hang more plants instead of scattering them on the floor,” she wrote.
5. This 296-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio Apartment That Fits an Incredible Amount of Storage
Even though it’s a rental apartment, New York-based makeup artist and stylist Kim White has invested money and energy on many projects to make the space more efficient and comfortable. “Before I moved in I knew that every inch of the place needed purpose, so I outfitted the kitchen with basic IKEA cabinets up to the ceiling to store kitchenwares as well as other less-used items that I needed to store,” she describes. Along with being smart and practical, many of her home projects were also very budget-friendly. “I found a TV stand for $15 at IKEA in their scratch and dent area, and was inspired to build a channeled banquette based off of a headboard I’d seen on Emily Henderson’s site (yay, more storage),” writes Kim. “I’m a makeup artist and those two drawers in the banquette are home to lots of product!” All of her furniture choices and storage solutions partnered with a Murphy bed make for a seriously gorgeous studio layout.
6. This 450-Square-Foot Studio in Dubai That Two People Share
Living in a small space is tough enough when you’re solo, but sharing a tiny studio apartment, like this one in Dubai, with another person is downright admirable. “Since we can literally see all corners of our apartment at once, we selected furniture that fit the space, had multiple uses and storage features, and added beauty and a sense of calm to the space,” explained Jenna Kruger. “We have taken much care to limit what comes into our home, only including items that are functional and beautiful, and letting go of things that are not serving us well.” They also wisely use storage furniture pieces as visual dividers to add even more function to the layout.
7. A 315-Square-Foot NYC Studio That Uses Art and Wallpaper to Create Distinct Zones
“Rather than using furniture or dividers to break up the separate spaces, I used artwork to visually break up the space,” explained Jung Hi Han of her 315-square-foot Upper East Side studio. “So the sleep area has this beautiful chinoiserie style wallpaper that I found on Anthropologie. It’s actually removable and was pretty easy to install—just a few hours. The couch is backed by a gallery wall of small pieces of art that I’ve collected over the years. The dining area has a unicorn that I randomly found in the children’s section of Target with a frame from Michaels.”
8. A 330-Square-Foot Studio’s Custom Furniture and Smart Storage Ideas Maximize Every Inch
This 330-square-foot New York City studio apartment is a prime example of how to maximize absolutely every single inch of a small space. The “before” of Jaime’s small studio apartment was dark, but painting the existing bricks white helped lighten up the space and maximize the light that comes from the north-facing windows. The real change happened when she renovated the kitchen and bathroom and custom-built furniture for the space with her father. She was able to fit a lot of different zones in one room by customizing the furniture for just the right function.
9. A 400-Square-Foot London Studio Apartment That Uses All the Tricks to Feel Much Larger
Coming from a large apartment in Brooklyn, Tiara Christian took 400-square-foot London studio living as a challenge to try her hand at living a more minimal lifestyle. “Gone are the days of a walk-in closet the size of a small office, and this space forced me to be much more creative with how I organize and express myself,” she wrote in her studio’s tour. There’s a loft bed, mirrored cabinets, and other smart small-space ideas that make it feel much less like a studio and more like a cozy and compact one-bedroom apartment.
10. This 400-Square-Foot Studio Apartment a Retired Mom Built in Her Son’s Basement
When Karen Johnson moved back to Atlanta after living in the Dominican Republic for 15 years, she wasn’t sure where to live, so she decided to add a 400-square-foot studio apartment in her son’s unfinished basement. “I added an open living space, a spacious bathroom, and a laundry room with plenty of storage. I had no furniture and only two pieces of artwork to start my project. It has been a perfect place to live and downsizing is so freeing,” she wrote. From the perfect dining banquette area, to the cool room divider, it’s full of great ideas for living in just one room.
11. This 350-Square-Foot Studio’s Renter-Friendly Remodel That Maximized Its Storage Potential
Lisa Lu has put a ton of work in this 350-square-foot rental studio apartment. “It might seem obvious, but my biggest challenge was the size of the space,” she admitted in her home’s tour. “On top of that, I have A LOT of things and had to find places for it all. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty savvy at maximizing the utility of my space.” More than just finding a ton of storage in unexpected spots, she also refreshed the kitchen and the bathroom beautifully. “Key updates to the kitchen: Covered the backsplash with peel and stick subway tile, covered the counters in marble contact paper, painted the cabinet doors, and added aged brass hardware to them. I also spent some time organizing the cabinets, which was deeply satisfying,” she wrote.