How To Design A Studio Apartment And Create A Smart And Stylish Home
A studio apartment is a small home where you live, sleep and eat all in 1 room. Most people wil associate a studio apartment with student living (I too lived in a studio when I first left home) but studio’s aren’t just for young people and they certainly don’t have to look like a dorm room. In this post I will show you how you can design a studio apartment to make it feel like a proper home where you can live, entertain and sleep in a stylish way.
First off when you want to design your studio apartment you have to think about want you want from a home. You really can do everything in a studio apartment if you design it thoughtfully. Do you love cooking & dinner parties? then prioritize your kitchen and dining area. Do you work/study from home? make sure you have a proper desk area. This doesn’t mean that you have to cut back in other areas of your tiny home, but it’s all about what you value most in your apartment and make that your priority. In this post I will show you how you can divide your studio into seperate zones, some tips on how to use your space in a smart way and give you some examples about color schemes in a studio apartment.
Dividing a studio apartment into several zones
Ideally you want to create seperate zones in your small studio, one for living/dining and a seperate zone for sleeping to give the illusion of a 1 bedroom apartment. There are many ways in which you can do that so if you want to know how to divide a studio keep scrolling!
A high IKEA Billy bookshelf creates a cozy bedroom nook (photo: Bjurfors)
A bookcase behind the bed et viola! you have created a seperate bedroom area. Style the bookcase with plants, books and unique items to make it a statement piece (photo: Mikkel Dahlstrøm)
The IKEA Kallax bookcase is often used for dividing spaces. It works so well because not only does it create storage spaces but because the cubicles are open which you can see through and it also lets through natural light & which makes it feel less cramped. (photo: York Avenue)
A small open bookcase is just enough to create a seperate bedroom zone (photo: Lindsay Brown)
Above you see and example of some amazing DIY work. A studio apartment now looks like a 1-bedroom apartment thanks to the plywood bookshelf. The openings make sure there’s no natural light lost and underneath cabinets creates that much needed storage space if you live in a small home (design: Sandy Wen)
An open shelving system behind the bed creates a more private sleeping area (photo: IKEA)
You can use rugs to create seperate zones. Usually they are used in the sitting area of a studio. Not only are they great for dividing purposes but they also bring warmth and texture to a space.
Above the rug defines the sitting area, plus it brings color to an otherwise neutral studio (styling: Emma Fischer & photo: Jonas Berg)
The large striped (IKEA) rug defines the sitting area in the studio. (photo: Bjurfors)
Not only the rug helps in dividing the studio, but the artwork as well. By only placing artwork above the sofa and keep the bedroom area free of wall art do you create different zones. (photo: Stadshem)
The rug in this space by Amelia Widell creates a cozy sitting nook (photo: Andrea Papini)
Screens are ideal in a studio apartment because they are so flexible. You can move it to any area you want to block from view (you know.. when you haven’t done the dishes or you haven’t made your bed) plus you can also use it to hang clothes or other items
The advantage of screens is that you can pull them out as much if you want. Haven’t made your bed? Well let’s hide it, but if you want your studio to be one open space just pull the screen close and put it away. (photo: Entrance Makleri)
A DIY folding screen created with IKEA Ivar by Pella Hedeby for a natural look in your studio (see the tutorial here)
If you don’t mind climbing up every evening and if you’re not afraid of falling out of bed then you can choose a loft bed. It saves a ton of room plus your bedroom area is pretty much out of sight.
A pink studio apartment with loft bed, underneath the loft there’s a walk in closet! (photo: Alvhem)
The dark studio with loft bed of interior stylist and photographer Henrik Nero
If rising to high isn’t your thing you can opt for the middle. This small studio is created by Pella Hedeby for IKEA with a loft bed with underneath storage (photo: Ragnar Omarsson)
The idea above is for the DIY-ers among us. It’s a loft bed, sofa and shelving system in 1 and on top of that it’s also on wheels for more flexibility (photo: Fantastic Frank)
IKEA knows how to decorate a small space. The loft bed creates a cozy sitting nook with a large bookcase for extra storage.
The loft bed in this Scandinavian studio apartment makes sure that there’s enough space for a large work area in the studio. I love the detail of the curved loft bed, a nice design touch.
They used the nook in this home to create a loft bedroom with closet space underneath
Scandinavian minimalism with the loft bed above the kitchen and small dining space. The loft stairs also have storage
By using a curtain you can hide a certain aspect of your studio. It can be used to create a seperate bedroom area but you can also use it to hide shelves that might look cluttered. And bringing some texture into a home is always a good idea.
(photo: Fantastic Frank)
Above the bedroom area has been raised with a curtain to the living area that can be closed to create more privacy (photo: Ellie Koleen)
This studio apartment uses multiple dividing options. A large rug in the sitting space, a curtain around the bed ánd a bookcase to create a seperate work area (photo: Genevieve Garruppo)
A curtain behind the sofa creates a seperate bedroom area (photo: Benjamin Edwards)
You can also use sheer curtains to create the illusion of a seperate bedroom area, it created just enough privacy for your bedroom space without losing too much natural light.
IKEA Ivar cabinets with a industrial glass wall above to separate the bedroom area from the living area
A floating wall is a nice statement piece for dividing a room but also to showcase artwork
A narrow glass wall divides the sleeping and living area. By using glass walls you don’t lose natural light which can be useful if the light only comes from 1 side (photo: Bjurfors)
You can add an half high wall to create some privacy for your bedroom area but it won’t make the room feel cramped or dark. And the wall can be used to show art/hang a tv
A canopy bed creates a seperate zone for your bed, plus you can use it to hang curtains to close it off even more or you can use it to showcase your clothes or add some greenery with hanging plants.
A beautiful example of a canopy bed in the home of Chelsae Anne
By placing your furniture in a certain way you can easily create zones. A good example is by placing your sofa by the foot of your bed, that way you don’t always have to look at your bed (you can even add a screen as well to hide it even more)
IKEA is probably the king of small space design. Above you see an attic studio with a desk behind the sofa(bed)
Simple but effective, a small low bookcase behind the bed to seperate it from the living area.
A vintage L-shaped Arne Vodder desk creates a divide between living and sleeping area (photo: Melanie Rieders)
A vintage sofa by the foot of the bed to create a seperate living area. I love how it’s placed with an angle which can be smart if your studio is narrow.
Because the sofa is placed in the middle of the studio it creates a dynamic division between living and sleeping (photo: Anna Spaller)
If you’re in a bit of luck, your studio apartment has a nook. You can use this if you want to create seperate zones in your studio.
They were lucky in the home above, the nook is big enough for a double bed and can be closed of with a curtain. Of course you don’t have to use the nook for the bed perse, for example if you live with someone in a studio and you work/study from home you can also create a closed off workspace in a nook. Or maybe a crafts area that you don’t always want in sight. (photo: BOSTLHM)
A nook just big enough for a bed made of IKEA Malm dressers to add that much needed storage space in a studio apartment.
If your studio doesn’t have a nook in the floorplan, you can create one by adding a closet wall to your studio as you can see above. You can close the doors during the day and at night you can crawl into your bedroom space. In The Netherlands we have a word for these kinds of bedroom spaces namely ‘bedstede’ (you can kind of translate that to box bed) they were very common in The Netherlands mainly in farmhouses and if you buy and old propery here you might be in luck and still find one. (just some added info, haha)
A dark painted bedroom nook under a slanted ceiling that can be closed of with a curtain (photo: IKEA)
Another way to create different zones is to use your paintbrush. By painting one area a different hue you can give the illusion of a seperate zone. (if you want to keep the look of your studio calm than you can opt for 2 colors from the same palette. More on color palettes are below in this post)
multifunctional & flexible furniture
Multifunctional furniture is a must if you live in a studio apartment. I’ve already featured the bookshelves above, where you combine storage space with a room divider but there are other options as well.
New at IKEA this year is the PLATSA bedframe. It’s a system that you can design yourself to accomodate your needs. Above there’s a wardrobe with open shelves but you can also add only the open shelves or drawers, whatever you need! It’s not only is multifunctional but it also creates a seperate bedroom area. Plus the bed has underneath storage which is incredibly useful if you live in a small space. Use all the space you have!
A bedroom block with plenty of storage underneath and a pegboard wall that can be used however you need it (photo: Balázs Glódi)
A bed headboard has a double duty by also using it as a bookcase and desk area (photo: VT Wonen)
A murphy bed is perfect if you’re low on space ánd you want to hide your bed during the day. Just flip it up in the morning and you suddenly gain a lot more moving space
The murphy bed in this studio is behind custom painted panels, not only does it hide the bed during the day buy it’s also a nice statement piece in your small home (photo: Elaine Musiwa)
Folding tables were made for small spaces. There are several options if you want to use this space saving idea. There are several fold out tables and desks that you can buy (take the IKEA Norden for example), you can make one yourself and even attach it to the wall.
A workspace created with the IKEA Ivar system. The table can be folded up when you no longer need it (and great paint idea as well!)
A folding table that serves as a mirror when you fold it up to the wall Ps: instead of a mirror you can also showcase art when it’s folded up (see the tutorial on Handimania)
A mid-century fold out desk by Urban Outfitters, not only space saving but also super stylish
Color schemes in a studio apartment
Most articles about the design of studio apartments will say that you have to paint your small home in a neutral, light color scheme, I disagree! I’m not here to tell you that one color scheme is the best option for a studio apartment. I think color in home design is very personal, some people like things minimalistic and neutral and others prefer to make a colorful statement. Don’t think too much about what others advice, what do you want? What are the colors that make you happy and want to surround yourself in every day? There is no right or wrong when it comes to decorating your home, if you like an abundance of color, go for it! You can incorporate color in many different ways, paint the walls, add colorful furniture or add colorful touches with fabrics and home decor.
If you feel a bit lost when it comes to chosing the right colors then there are few ‘color guidelines’
Colors in the same temperature create a harmonious look. Colors can be divided into 2 groups, there are warm colors (such as beige or brown) and cool colors (such as blue and green).
Monochrome colors. While a color temperature is quite a broad spectrum you can narrow it down and choose a monochrome palette. These are colors in the same hue such as soft pink and bright pink or the Scandinavian white/grey/black palette.
Contrasting colors enhance each other. If you choose 2 colors on the opposite site of the spectrum then these will enhance each other and you will create a strong colorful statment. Think for example pink with blue.
Below you can see examples of studio apartments in all kinds of color schemes, so you’ll see that there’s not one ‘perfect’ color scheme for a studio.
This studio apartment falls under the categorie ‘contrasting colors’ purple vs. yellow and red vs. blue. It’s a lot of color but it does create a fun, bright and personal home (photo: Mathieu Lacote)
Come over to the dark side! Completely covered in black paint, vintage furniture and a canopy bed this studio certainly makes a statement. Who says a small home should be white? (styling: Rydman & photo: Boukari)
Slightly less extreme than the previous examply but this studio is also painted in dark colors with vintage furniture. Add some pink as contrast to the blue tones and you’ll create a beautiful warm home. (oh and see the shelf above the doorframe, very clever!) (photo: Jonas Berg)
Colorful walls and textures in a vibrant studio apartment (photo: Rima Brindamour)
You might think that monochrome is only white/grey interiors but this is also monochrome. Soft pink walls with a darker pink velvet sofa all from the same color palette It’s colorful but in a calm way (photo: Laura Metzler)
A cold color palette in this studio apartment by combining greys with green. If painting all walls is a bit too much for you but you still want to add color then you can chose to create a statement wall. (photo: Bjurfors)
A light grey base is spruced up with blue and soft pink. Pink and blue are always nice contrasting color combinations. (photo: Anders Bergstedt)
Light and calm. If you prefer a minimalistic look for your studio apartment you can go for a light monochrome color scheme with light greys, beige and light wood furnishings (and a brass/mustard yellow color touch)
Space saving ideas
It might sound logical but use all the space you have if you live in a studio apartment. That often means you have to go up! I’ve already showed loft ideas in this post to create a seperate sleeping area and open up floor space and also other multifunctional furniture. Another clever way to save space is by using curtains or sliding doors instead of normal doors (after all a normal door needs extra space to open up). Don’t forget all the spaces that you normally would ignore such as the space above & behind doors.
In the studio above the wall shelves go all the way up to the ceiling to use all the storage space you can get. Plus the shelves also function as a workspace which makes it multifunctional! (styling: Copparstad & photo: Boukari)
One wall in this IKEA space is completely used as storage space. With a curtain you can easily hide it from view to create a cleaner look.
It has already appeared in this post a few times but a bed with storage underneath is the perfect way to add storage space ánd create a bit of a divide between bedroom and living space (photo: Jonas Gustavsson)
The plus side of a storage bed like the one featured above is how it opens. In contrast to beds with storage drawers this option doesn’t need too much space around the bed to open up. Perfect for all your season clothing and other items you don’t need that often.
The space above doors that most people ignore is perfect for shelves
So what can we take from this post about how to design a studio apartment?
first think about what’s in important for you in a home, prioritize your main function
take a good look at the layout of your space, are there nooks? do you want to create different zones? where is the light coming from?
get multifunctional furniture
think about the color scheme you want in your home (and ignore people who say studio apartments should always be decorated in light colors)
go up! and use all the space you have
But most importantly this post on how to design a studio apartment shows you that even though you might live small you certainly don’t have to compromise on style