Studio apartment living allows people to hop from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood, slowly gathering a feel for where they’d like to set down roots. It’s also a great option for anyone looking to downsize or those who need to stick to a tight rent budget. There is a trade-off, however: many studio apartments are 500 square feet or less. That can make studio apartment decorating and furnishing a challenge. 

If you live in a smaller apartment, you might feel like you don’t have enough room for a table, let alone for interior design. But having a smaller apartment shouldn’t stop you from infusing a gallon of personality into a tea-cup-sized space. It just takes a little creativity and flexibility. In this article, we’ll look at some of our favorite studio apartment decorating ideas. These design tips can also work for one-bedroom apartments or even tiny houses. 

No matter the size of your space, these small apartment ideas will inspire you to channel your inner designer.

Small Furniture For Your Small Studio

As comfortable as an 8-person sectional is, it’s a tougher option in a studio apartment. When furnishing your small room space, opt for a loveseat over a full couch and a smaller dining set over a Thanksgiving dinner special.

For example, try a small, round kitchen table or even a small square table that you can place against a wall when it’s just you dining. Go for a twin or full bed instead of the California king and opt for one nightstand instead of two. Choose a tall, thin dresser instead of a low, wide dresser.  

And because you’ll likely have to keep furniture to a minimum (even with smaller choices), aim for accent decor pieces. Try thinking of creative apartment living room decor ideas. If your coffee table can double as a conversation starter, you’ve made effective use of your small living room space.

Here are a few other small apartment furniture ideas for your studio apartment:

  • Armchairs instead of a couch
  • Slipper chairs or poufs 
  • Folding chairs you can stow away
  • Nesting or stacking side tables
  • Drop-leaf or gate-leg tables
  • Wall-mounted fold-out desks
  • Murphy bed
  • Loft bed
  • Day bed or trundle bed
  • Kitchen carts or an island on wheels

Multi-Functional Furniture Is Your Best Friend

Every inch matters when it comes to studio apartment decorating, so consider how your furniture can do double duty. These days, you can find lots of furniture specifically designed for small spaces that you can utilize in a variety of ways. Here are just a few double-use furniture ideas:

  • Use your kitchen table as your workspace.
  • Choose a kitchen table set with chairs that tuck fully beneath the table when not in use.
  • Use two cubes as a coffee table that you can convert into extra seating for guests.
  • Buy a daybed and use it as your couch during the day and your bed at night.

Choose Furniture and Decor with Built-In Storage

Storage space is at a premium in studio apartments — you may only have one or two small closets to keep the majority of your extra possessions out of view. Keeping extra couch blankets, charger cables, and all your electronics out in the open can make your apartment look and feel cluttered. 

Instead, invest in furniture with built-in storage. If you’re already going to put a coffee table in your living room, why not choose a model with drawers for board games, puzzles, and video game controllers? There are tons of clever and creative furniture pieces that can help you keep your knickknacks out of sight so your apartment feels cleaner and more spacious. 

Here are just a few options:

  • Bedframe with built-in drawers beneath to store extra linens and seasonal clothes
  • Couch with built-in drawers beneath to store blankets and pillows
  • Chests or trunks to store electronics, notebooks, and board games
  • Ottoman with storage space for tucking away extra couch blankets

Go All-In With One or Two Large Decor Items

When considering small apartment ideas, you might be tempted to fill your space with lots of small decorating items. However, putting too much into a tight space can easily make it look cluttered. Counterintuitively, try sticking with just a few larger decor items and let them boldly announce your style and taste. 

One large portrait or framed artwork can anchor an entire wall, as can a unique bookshelf or a large flower arrangement on the coffee table. Don’t be afraid to go big as long as you stick with just a few pieces. 

Use Contrast in Your Decor

One of our favorite studio apartment design ideas is to use contrast to create a big visual message without adding a lot of new items into your space. For example, if you choose a neutral-colored couch, add brightly colored throw pillows. Choose a bedspread with a daring design.

If your apartment includes exposed brick or pipe, create a natural contrast with wood tones and live plants to soften the industrial vibe. Some colorful artwork can also work as a wonderful contrast on a brick wall. 

Separate Your Studio Apartment Into Different Areas

A studio apartment doesn’t give you multiple rooms to work with. One larger space tends to act as a bedroom, living room, and dining room all in one. But don’t let that stop you from embracing great small apartment ideas. 

There are plenty of creative ways to partition your home into separate “rooms,” including:

  • Color: If your bed and couch have to be in the same room, you can paint the wall behind one of them in an accent color. This detail gives visitors the illusion of two defined spaces.
  • Curtains: Do you want a wall to divide the room but don’t have a knack for carpentry? No problem. Put up a curtain rod and hang a thick curtain to create a temporary, retractable wall.
  • Strategically Placed Furniture: It’s tempting to leave your living room area as open as possible. However, using furniture to create “rooms” may actually make your space appear larger. For example, use the back of your couch or a desk as a “wall” to section out an office and a TV room.

Hang Your Kitchen Implements 

Everything is small in studio apartments, including the kitchen. If you love home cooking (which is also a great way to save money in an expensive city), you’ll need a way to store all your cookware and utensils. 

Hanging up kitchen items keeps them from crowding your limited drawer, cabinet, and shelf space. Hanging high-end cookware, your favorite funny mugs, and utensils is also a great way to decorate your kitchen and express your personality.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Install a hanging pot rack to the wall or ceiling and show off your cookware.
  • Add hooks to the bottom of cabinets and shelves and hang your favorite mugs.
  • Get in touch with your inner DIY and install a pegboard in your kitchen. A pegboard is the perfect place to hang your knives or bulky cooking utensils like whisks or spatulas. 

Curate Your Own Art Gallery

When you’re short on floor space, look upward, and you’ll find plenty of blank space on the walls. You can either hang various pictures and posters throughout your home or create a gallery wall (one wall dedicated to a collection of art and photos). Read our blog on how to hang pictures on a wall.

You can also display art in unconventional ways. Objects like to throw pillows and area rugs can double as splashes of vibrant color — without taking up valuable space.

Use Mirrors To Make Your Space Bigger

Speaking of hanging things on your wall, one of our cleverest apartment design ideas is to add mirrors to your space. Depending on your apartment’s aesthetic, you can choose between vintage statement mirrors and understated modern options.

Regardless of which style you pick, mirrors make a space feel bigger. They reflect other parts of the room to give the illusion of depth, and they also reflect light to brighten up your apartment.

Take Advantage of Vertical Space

Studio apartment decorating ideas often focus on vertical space, and there’s a reason for that. Too often, amateur designers forget to use their entire canvas. Whether you’re blessed with high ceilings or not, be sure to build upwards.

Shelves should reach up to the ceiling. Dressers should be tall instead of wide. By implementing vertical design choices, you essentially increase the square footage of your home. You’re adding storage space where there wasn’t any before. Plus, height gives the impression of a bigger living space, but make sure to use our storage size chart first to make sure it fits.

Here are some other ways to optimize your vertical space:

  • Install floating shelves directly on the walls at different heights to create eye-catching displays.
  • Hang plants from the ceilings using hanging baskets or mounted planter boxes. Choose trailing plants to create a beautiful, nature-forward look.
  • Add over-the-door organizers to your closet doors. Use these to store charging cables, shoes, or other small accessories that might clutter your surfaces.
  • Mount your sports equipment. Do you want to keep your bicycle, snowboard, or surfboard in your apartment? Mount it against the wall so it doesn’t take up crucial floor space.

Use Lighting Strategically 

Need some small apartment decorating ideas on a budget? Light plays a significant role in apartment decorating, but it’s often forgotten. Try playing around with some of these studio apartment ideas for lights:

  • Install floor lights that point up, guiding the eye upward.
  • Avoid a single light source; include ceiling lights, lamps, and more.
  • Try backlighting to add depth; install lights behind headboards and mirrors.

If you mount lights to walls or hide them behind furniture, you can create a home full of ambiance without sacrificing space you don’t have.

Embrace Organizers

While not specifically a decorating recommendation, organizers are an absolute must for studio apartments. Keeping your possessions organized will make your space more usable, allow you to store more, and help you create a cleaner and more open space so that your design choices really have a chance to shine. That’s why we consider organizers to be one of our must-have studio apt ideas.

Organizers come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in a huge variety of ways. Here are just a few recommendations:

  • Add dividers to all your kitchen drawers to keep your utensils separated by purpose.
  • Use over-the-door organizers on the cabinets under the sink to store sponges and washcloths.
  • Add drawer dividers or drawer cubbies to your dresser so you can separate jeans from athletic pants or pajama tops from bottoms.
  • Invest in a closet organizer, which can give you a second bar for hanging clothes or additional drawers and shelves to store folded clothes and shoes.
  • Add dividers or install pull-out drawers in your bathroom vanity to better organize all your toiletries.
  • Install pull-out drawers or lazy Susans in your kitchen cabinets to use every square inch of space and have easier access to your food and ingredients.

Start doing some research on closet, door, and cabinet organizers — you’ll be amazed at how much better you can optimize these valuable spaces in your studio apartment. 

Get Smart With Your Storage

Storage space is at a premium in small apartments, but you can greatly expand the storage capacity of your space with a few creative small apartment storage ideas. Start by adding floating shelves in your apartment. You can use these shelves to store books, DVDs, trophies, vacation mementos, and more. They’ll take up far less space than large bookshelves.

Fall in love with command hooks. These are hooks that you can stick to walls, cabinets, and other flat surfaces without harming the surface (which makes them excellent for renters). Command hooks can be used to hang your keys by the front door, mount spatter pans and oven mitts in the kitchen, hang coats in the entryway, or hold hats in your bedroom. Once you get started with command hooks, you won’t be able to stop using them. 

Next, invest in closet organizers. You can find many organizational systems at various price points. Organizers allow you to make the best use of every inch of your closet space, allowing you to add additional clothing bars, drawers, cubbies, and more.

Finally, turn unused space into storage space. Have a few inches under your bed? Buy under-bed storage systems for your extra shoes and out-of-season clothes. Have room beneath your coffee table? Pick up low-cost cubbies, fill them with games and puzzles, and slide them beneath the table. Put cubbies beneath nightstands or even in extra spaces on your bookshelf. 

Free Up Space And Put Personal Items In Storage

Of course, even the best small apartment storage ideas can only do so much. You will eventually run out of space in a studio apartment, especially if you are downsizing into a smaller space or have lived in an apartment for years and are experiencing possession creep.

If, during your studio apartment decorating, you find that it won’t all fit, you’ll need another solution. Rather than moving to a larger, costlier apartment, try renting out a storage unit instead. It’s more affordable and keeps unused items out of the way so that you can use your living space for, well, living.

At Price Self Storage, we know all about making the most of a space. With various unit sizes at several convenient locations and lots of great storage features, we’ll store your extra stuff, giving you the freedom to decorate to your heart’s content.