Creating Space in a Studio Apartment

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Maybe you decided it was worth sacrificing space to live in the heart of the city. Or perhaps the affordability was too good to pass up.  Or possibly this is your very first apartment and it seemed like plenty of space for one person … and so much bigger than the college dorm you shared with that super-messy roommate. But here you are, renting a studio apartment.

The average studio apartment contains 500-600 square feet of living space and typically consists of three defined spaces: the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living area.  It can be a challenge to fit everything you own into that living space – and the lack of a bedroom could also be a dilemma. Do you forego the traditional bed in favor of a daybed that doubles as a couch? A sofa bed? A futon? And if you want a normal bed … how do you keep the sleeping area separate from the living area?

Here’s how to create space in your studio apartment:

  • You want to create three zones in your living area – the “bedroom,” the “dining room,” and the “living room.” Large area rugs are ideal for defining spaces – place one under your dinette set or in your living room.
  • Use privacy screens or curtains to separate your sleeping space – hang the curtains in front of the bed to section it off from the rest of the room.
  • Bookshelves set perpendicular to the wall or “floating” in front of the bed also creates a division. Decorate the back side of the bookshelves as you would a wall – paint it or hang lightweight artwork;  attach a pegboard and add “S” hooks to hang jewelry, purses, and scarves; or attach a mirror to make it part of the “bedroom.”
  • If you are allowed to paint the walls, this is a great way to define your spaces. You can also create “walls” by suspending beads, hanging bi-fold doors, or suspending a large window (for privacy, paint murals on the glass panes).
  • If you don’t have enough room to have a regular bed, there are alternatives to the (often uncomfortable) futon or sofa bed. (A convertible sofa is great for company, but if you have to fold it up every morning and unfold it every evening, you may find you end up just leaving it open all the time.) A comfortable chaise lounge can double as a bed, or consider a murphy bed. A loft bed is also a great alternative – it not only creates a separate sleeping area, but the space underneath the loft is automatically defined – use this “room” as your television viewing area or your workspace.
  • If you don’t have space for a dinette or even a bistro table, consider a wall-mounted drop-leaf table. This can be set up when you want the table and folded flat when you need the space.
  • Get creative with storage. Use a large trunk for a coffee table and store seasonal items inside, hang floating shelves, stack old suitcases and use them as a side table, suspend a bar from the ceiling to hang clothes on, place an old ladder against a wall and use it to hang everything from blankets to sweaters, and think vertically – take shelving all the way up to the ceiling.
  • Think small-scale! If you buy small furniture, it won’t overwhelm your tiny studio and your space won’t look cluttered. Instead of a full-size sofa, consider a loveseat, a chaise, or just a recliner or two. Also look for items that include built-in storage (headboards with shelves, side tables with cubbies or drawers, and storage ottomans).
  • Create a closet. You can find closet shelving, rods, etc. at the home improvement store. Attach a combination of these to one wall to make your closet, then place a bookcase in front of it (flat side facing the closet so you can attach a full-length mirror – give yourself enough space between the closet and the bookcase to maneuver around your “closet”), or place a large privacy screen (or two) in front of the closet. You can also hang a curtain rod in front of the “closet” and hide your closet space with either traditional curtains or a fabric shower curtain (these tend to be less expensive than curtains and will slide better – be sure to get shower curtain rings to attach the curtain to the bar).