Dreaming about the perfect studio apartment? Decorating an apartment with everything in one room can be challenging.
In this article, we give away all our best tips on how to best decorate a studio apartment!
There are many functions we need to fit into a space this small and we need to be creative. But as we will see, it is very possible to have it all.
When we talk about a studio we mean a one-room apartment with a separate toilet with a shower.
So we need that single room to have multiple functions. And we need it to be very very efficient.
How To Maximize Each Part Of A Studio Apartment
A studio apartment is typically around 200- 500 sq.ft (19- 46 M2). In here we need to fit everything we would want from an apartment space for full-time living.
This means we will need:
- Kitchen / Dining space
Sleeping Area Ideas For Studios
The bedroom is the most fun room to fit into the studio apartment. There are so many great options here and we will go over them one by one.
1) Hide Your Bed With A Murphy Beds
Murphy beds are great because they completely hide the bed during the day. We have written a ton about these wonderful space-saving beds and there are many great options for studio apartments.
For many years, Murphy beds have been very expensive and many people chose alternative sleeping furniture for that reason. But today they have become more popular and widespread, and therefore the price has also gone down.
Let’s look at some of the more affordable Murphy beds that make sense to buy for a studio apartment.
Plain and simple Murphy bed
The standard Murphy bed is the simplest wall bed we have. It’s also the cheapest model as it doesn’t have additional storage and added functions as the ones we will look at in a bit.
We found it here for $1,100 (including shipping)
This is a great option and we have several colors and designs to choose from. The price starts at around $1,000. This is including everything: The frame, the bed, the lifting mechanism.
The only thing you need to add is a mattress!
You can also build your own DIY Murphy bed. Then you have to get a Murphy bed kit (the pistons, hinges, locking mechanism etc.). It can certainly be done (we did it!) but it’s not something you just do. You need some skills and you also need to build it well in order for it to function properly. You can read more here about how we build our own Murphy bed.
You can also choose to include more functions to the Murphy bed. Let’s take a look at some other great options.
Murphy bed with a desk or bookcase
You can also have a Murphy bed with a desk. This is great if you are working from home or you like to have a table to read or study.
These wall beds are a little more advanced, and therefore also a bit pricier.
So the cheapest option here is to buy the standard bed (above) and just mount a desk yourself. This is a lot more doable financially, as these amazing bed systems often cost more than $3,000!
But if you have the money there are certainly some really cool options. Here are some ideas to show you what you can get. Below the image, we have included a link to the American/Canadian seller of these bed systems.
We have found these great murphy bed solutions here with free shipping.
This store has more than 35 well-designed and genius wall beds that are really well thought out. If this is the investment it takes for you to be able to live in a single-room apartment instead of an apartment with two or more room, the investment might very well be worth it! When the bed is hidden you can do more with the room.
We have written a long article with everything you need to know in order to find an affordable Murphy bed.
2) Sleeping Lofts
If you have a high ceiling you can utilize the vertical space for a sleeping area. It’s a great feeling to sleep below the ceiling and there are many creative designs to inspire you.
There are many ways to go about this and you just need to decide how much you want to install and whether you can mount this type of furniture into the apartment. If it’s your own apartment this is no problem, of course.
Here are some great ideas for sleeping lofts.
Completely custom built-in sleeping loft
The first idea is also the most difficult to pull off. You need some serious skills in order to create this solution.
But if you are a master of carpentry of you have (very) good handy friends it can totally be done in most spaces if the ceiling is around 9-10 feet high.
The great thing about this option is that you don’t use any floor space at all. With most of the other sleeping solutions, we will use some of the floors for mounting a Murphy bed or installing a storage unit. But with the full integrated sleeping loft, we can just place a ladder on the floor and the rest of the floor is freed up for other functions and furniture.
You can also find a ton of inspiration for the design and layout of tiny houses on wheels.
They typically have a sleeping loft like the one below. Here’s Maria sitting on the sleeping roof of a tiny house we filmed two years ago.
You can see some of the best ideas from tiny houses here.
If you don’t want to install screws into the walls and you still would like a sleeping loft you can put up a free-standing mezzanine.
They are quite pricy but if this makes you able to live in a studio instead of a one-bedroom apartment, it’s probably worth the investment. And the best part is that you can bring it with you if you move. This also allows you to sell it if you won’t be needing it anymore.
In many apartments and studios, you won’t be allowed to remodel too much and install Murphy beds. In that case, a free-standing mezzanine can be a great option.
This is what it can look like.
You can find some great options here at this shop where we found the one above.
3) Platform Beds
This is probably our favorite solutions when it comes to fitting a bed in a tiny apartment. The idea is to slide the bed into a platform you build on the floor.
This way the bed is completely hidden during the day and you can use the space for other purposes.
I love how well thought-out this space is. There’s everything in this small studio apartment from storage, sleeping area and space to relax and entertain a few friends. There’s even a desk you can use for work or study.
This is such a good idea and it’s not as complicated to build as you would think.
Here’s an image to give you an idea of how simple the construction can be made:
The bed can disappear completely when it is tucked in under the bed. It has wheels mounted below the wooden frame and you can slide it away with almost no effort.
You can actually build this construction without having to mount screws and bolt into the floor (or the wall, for that matter!). If you balance out the weight you can have this as a free-standing unit that you can remove again if you would want to.
Here is another cool platform bed.
This is a very simple construction but there’s a ton of storage built into the system.
Want to see more cool slide-out beds?
We have a separate article here with much more great ideas for beds that slide in under a platform.
4) Place The Bed Above Storage
This next option is a storage unit you can sleep on top of.
It enables you to combine storage with sleeping and you can easily build this. It takes much fewer skills to craft this piece of furniture than to build a Murphy bed or a sleeping loft.
It can be built to fit your space perfectly and you have the option to do this as a twin bed or a queen size bed. You just need to make sure you use some good solid wood panels for the construction. Otherwise, it might make some funny (read: annoying) noise when you turn around in the bed.
5) Sofa Beds And Futon Beds
The last options we will look at here are sofa beds.
They are really great too for studio apartments because you will probably need a sofa anyway, so why not hide a bed inside the sofa furniture?
Most sofa beds look a little bulky but they can be very comfortable to sleep in. They are typically made with a thick foam mattress. Here are some options to choose from.
The first model is a bit more modern than the other options we have found. It’s less bulky in the design. I love how light and clean this design looks and how it can double-function as a sofa unit with a chaise long-type of design.
This type of bed is called a futon bed.
The one above is called “Crandon Velvet” and you can find when you click the link above and search for “Crandon Velvet”.
The next option is probably one of the more expensive options. They have a more advanced system where you can fold it out and transform it into a full-size queen size bed.
You can find these online here.
If you want to see more great beds like these we have found some of the best sofa bed designs over here.
Ideas For The Kitchen Space
We also need kitchen space in our studio. Here we also have some really great ideas lined up for you!
Important things to consider for the kitchen area
The kitchen can be a tiny kitchenette or you can go for a bigger kitchen with most of the equipment and utilities you would have in a normal kitchen.
You need to decide whether you will actually cook in the kitchen or if you will mainly use it to arrange the food (or unwrap takeaway food).
If you like to prepare food and cook you will need more than a small kitchen counter with a tiny sink. So make space for the machines you like because you will probably spend more time in the kitchen than you think.
I know I do, but I also like to cook my own food.
Kitchen on top of a platform
This kitchen area is built upon a platform. The floor is raised a bit in order to make room for a bed under the kitchen area.
There’s a tiny staircase with built-in storage to the right (outside the picture) from which you can access the kitchen area. This way there’s added functions to everything:
- The floor is hiding a bed
- The stairs are filled with drawers for storage
- The bed double-function as a sofa (when you pull it out halfways)
The last function is REALLY cool.
Just pull out the bed halfways and you can use it as a sofa during the day. This way you can entertain friends or you can sit there and eat a more relaxed dinner meal.
You also have the kitchen counter where you can place barstools and eat on a daily basis.
The Tiny Kitchenette
If you don’t intend to cook a lot of meals in your apartment you can probably leave out most of the kitchen gear and just go with a small kitchenette.
This is a tiny studio apartment we found in the Netherlands two years ago. Here the architect has installed a very small kitchen counter with just enough space to organize your food. You can see our home-tour video about this space here.
The window above the kitchen counter makes it look cozy.
This is from another apartment space we have filmed in Amsterdam.
The Dutch people are really great when it comes to space optimizing and creative space-saving interior designs and floor plans!
The kitchen space is squeezed in here to the right at the entrance. Maria is sitting on a retracting staircase that can be pushed in between the shelves and drawers!
You can see the video we shot of the space here (It’ has more than 1.5 millions views, so I guess people like it!!).
The guys behind this great design also have an even smaller apartment.
In this version of the design, the kitchen is placed next to a small dining table. There’s room for four people around the table and the kitchen has just what you need as a bare minimum:
- A sink
- A microwave-combi oven
- Two-plate induction stove
- A coffee machine
- A trash bin
- A tiny dishwasher
- A fridge
Here’s a close-up photo of the kitchen counter space.
The dishwasher and the fridge are built-in below the counter. Notice how they have mounted a rack for hanging stuff like the dish brush, potholders, etc.
You can really fit in everything in a very tiny space. Around 6 feet (200 cm) of counter space and you will be able to have all the things mentioned above.
Choose Silent Appliances
When you have all your utilities in the same room as you live, sleep, cook etc. you need to pay attention to the amount of decibel they produce.
Low noise output is probably the most important feature of your utilities when you live and sleep in the same room.
So pay attention to the amount of decibel of the fridge, freezer, washer, dryer, etc. because it will drive you nuts to sit next to a fridge that sounds like a generator.
Furnishing A Studio Apartment (On A Budget)
Now we have looked at bedroom furniture and the kitchen space but we still need some cool space-saving furniture to make the apartment perfect.
We will need chairs, tables, and units with storage.
There are so many cool space-saving dining tables on the market. We have written extensively about all these different types and here are some of our most recommended tables for studio apartments.
Let’s start with our favorite design. This table has many names (like the Goliath or the Cubist table) and it is a console-and-dining-table in one.
This is a version Maria has built herself.
Luckily, it’s not that expensive today as when we built it.
Above you can see the table when it is fully collapsed and placed up against the wall.
Below we have pulled it out and we are about to insert the leaflets. There are 5 leaflets for this design but some of the variations for this table (which we link to below) have between 4-6 leaflets.
It was a HUGE project to build this table and not one I would recommend to anyone.
The retractable metal parts we a pain in the but to assemble with knots and bolts!
This kind of table will fit between 8-12 people when it is pulled out.
A really great solution for when you want to host a party, celebrate Thanksgiving, host a board game night, etc. The possibilities are really endless.
Here I am inserting the last leaflet with Maria and we are ready to serve food for 10 people.
We store the leaflets beside our bed but some of the newer designs will have you store the leaflets inside the table when it is collapsed.
If you are interested in these types of tables you can see all the best options here (with links to the cheapest stores online)
There are other cool dining tables we need to look at. One of the other great solutions for really small apartments is this table you can easily mount below a window. All it takes is a set of hinges and a piece of wood:
These kind of kitchen tables are great too. They can fold up to close off the shelving unit on the wall. When this table is folded up you could not possibly guess that this is, in fact, a hidden table.
Here you can see what it looks like when the table is folded up.
It becomes a space to hang your newspapers, towels, notes, and other stuff you use on an everyday basis. The coolest part is that this leather unit will still be able to hold your items when you fold the table down.
It will still be vertical because it will double-function as leg-support for the table.
It’s a quite simple construction, actually. You can probably build it yourself, but if you don’t have the skills or time to build it, it’s available here for $174 including shipping.
Room Dividers Can Make Wonders
If the studio is big enough (typically over 400 sq.ft. / 37 m2) you can use movable room dividers to change the layout of the apartment. They are a great way to transform our space and change the atmosphere.
They won’t stop the sounds so they are more intended to create a visible separation between two areas.
There are a lot of different designs out there and they are very cheap ($50 and up) and they are typically a good idea in these situations:
- When you have guests sleeping over
- When you need to change clothes (while having guests)
- When you want to hide something (while having guests)
- When you want to read
Here are some different designs to inspire you. These two examples are in the $60- 129 price range)
The next one is not blocking the view between the two spaces. It is more meant for creating a good atmosphere and a cozy feeling in the room.
They are great because they can be folded away easily to be stored behind a closet or under a bed.
If you have guests over the options above is great for creating a bit of privacy between two sleeping areas. You just pull out an extra mattress and place the room divider in between.
You can find good prices on room dividers here.
Let’s move on and find some of the best ideas to create more space in a very small bathroom.
Toilet And Shower Ideas
We also need to be clever about the toilet and bathroom space. There are a ton of cool hacks and ideas to look at when it comes to optimizing this room.
Let’s take a look at some of the coolest and most efficient ideas when it comes to optimizing the space around the toilet and the shower.
We need this room to be really compact (like a closet) in order to have enough space for the main room. Otherwise, it will be hard to make space for all the functions we need.
Corner Sinks And Toilets
Sinks like these tiny ones here are just great:
You can find these types of corner sinks here from $99.
When you place each element up against a corner you can utilize the space really well. This is often the best way to place the sink, the shower, and the toilet.
Here’s an example of how you can optimize the space in a tiny bathroom by placing everything in the corners. Even the door is placed in a corner here, which is not always the most optimal use of space.
If this is not possible you can also try to find a combined toilet and sink.
This will save you some space and the cool thing is that you can use the waste water from the sink to flush the toilet!
This is something we typically see in tiny apartment spaces in Japan and Asia. They are great at finding new solutions for optimizing the last couple of square inches in a room.
These combined toilets and sinks can look like this:
Hiding The Shower Head
We also want to hide the shower head inside the wall if possible. This gives us a few more inches of space and it just looks really nice and clean.
It’s also possible with the water tap.
If are doing a total remodeling of the toilet and shower room you might as well take your time to install the pipes in the wall. It will save you some space and you will also save some time every time you have to clean the area. We want to limit the length of the pipes as much as possible to avoid dealing with limescale.
11 Ways To Make Tiny Spaces Look Bigger
There are some good ideas and tricks that can make a studio apartment space look bigger. These are tricks interior designers use all the time and it’s actually not that advanced.
With a few simple tricks, you can do a lot yourselves.
Here are our best ideas on how to make a tiny apartment space appear bigger.
- Use bright colors
This is the first and most important thing you can do. Don’t go for dark or strong colors!
We need a lot of white and maybe a twist of light blue or pink but don’t go overboard. If you really want some colors on the walls you can mix a tiny bit of color into the white on one wall.
- Use wallpapers
When done right, a wallpaper with an image from nature or an urban environment can create the illusion of a huge window. You can enhance the effect by installing a few spots in the ceiling and point them toward the image.
- Declutter your interior
Less is more. Don’t place flowers and vases everywhere. We need some white space and empty window space in order to make the room feel bigger. You need to have less decorative items per square feet than you would think.
- Use mirrors
Mirrors are another great way to open up the room visually.
Try with a big mirror to create the illusion of more space.
- Use stripes
Stripes on carpets and rugs can work great as well. They will guide the eyes to look across the room instead of focusing on a single spot.
- More Windows
If you by any chance have the possibility to add more window space this is a brilliant way to create more light in the space. This will always make the room seem bigger and more spacious.
- Have clean floor space
Choose not to have too much on the floors. Have some clean space without any decorative items of any sort. Wooden floors work great and dare to put very few items on the floor.
- Clean up often
Nothing can make a tiny space seem cluttered like too much stuff laying around. Every item needs a place to belong and you need to clean up daily.
- Choose the lighting wisely
Have enough light sources. You can use light bulbs with multiple settings (like Philips Hue) so you can create several moods depending on the time of the day.
- Choose curtains that are long
Even if your windows aren’t tall you can have long curtains anyway. By extending the curtains all the way to just above the floor you trick the eye to think the windows are bigger. That works. Even if the curtains are covering the window.
- Lift everything up from the floor
Choose sofas, chairs, sofa tables, etc. with legs. By lifting every piece of furniture a bit from the floor you give the room a lighter feeling. This is also a great way to make it easier for you to clean the space.
Now that you live in a cute tiny studio apartment, why not make it even easier to clean it.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.