Studio Apartment Ideas: How to Maximize Your Small Space

The original version of this post was published on the blog at Zeus, a company that provides beautiful, fully furnished neighborhood homes for extended stays.

zeus studio apartment bedroom

The beloved studio: often a milestone in big, expensive cities and a symbol of personal independence.But perhaps more importantly, it’s an exciting blank canvas ready to be made uniquely yours. However amazing studio apartments are, they also come with their own set of challenges — namely, the lack of overall space.

We sat down with Zeus Homes Designer, Marilyn, to explore pro tips (literally – she does this for a living) for maximizing a studio apartment and bringing purpose to awkward corners and otherwise wasted spaces. Whether you are looking for inspiration for your new studio or planning to give your existing studio a facelift, we’re excited to be a part of your design process!

Choose a Focal Point

Standing in front of your empty studio wondering where to begin? You may be tempted to jump in and begin designing smaller elements of the space, such as accent chairs or plants. Resist this urge and start by identifying your focal point. “I begin by choosing an orientation and focal point for the space, such as the wall where the headboard of the bed will go. Orienting the room towards a view (if you’re lucky enough to have a great view!), also makes for a great focal point.” Marilyn explains that this anchor serves as a starting point from which your design will unfold and can help you prioritize your dollars to really knock this design out of the park.

Create Zones

zeus studio apartment, bed, TV, dresser, couch

A studio wouldn’t be a studio without its iconic open floor plan which blends sleeping, living, and dining quarters into one single space. While this design is effective in making the space feel larger, it presents the challenge of breaking up the space without the use of actual walls. The secret to this is zoning. “Gentle zoning will be your best friend. The goal is to create separate spaces that flow by leveraging elements like area rugs, artwork, plants, and different pieces of furniture,” adds Marilyn. She recommends looking to these design elements to create unique zones and staying away from partition walls which can diminish that openness.

Design for Dual-Purpose

Marilyn recommends that you “find pieces that don’t just look good but that serve more than one purpose.” Love at first sight syndrome happens to us all. We fall in love with furniture or decor and pull the trigger on items without really assessing their functionality. As a studio-dweller it’s important to shift your shopping and bring functionality to the forefront. When buying a coffee table, ask yourself: can this table serve another purpose such as storage? Marilyn shares a few of her favorite multi-purpose design elements:

  • Blanket ladder: not only does it look good, it saves space with its vertical height
  • Storage ottoman: another great solution for bulky items like blankets, and can be used as a coffee table when coupled with an accent tray
  • Drum table: similar to a storage ottoman and works particularly well as a side table
  • Pull-out couch or daybed: both provide a 2-in-1 seating and sleeping solution
  • Rolling kitchen cart: versatile in the ability to use in the kitchen as a chopping block, or roll into your living space and use for other purposes

Don’t Skimp on Seating

zeus studio apartment, bed, TV, dresser, couch, chairs

“While you may be occupying your studio solo, always design for two at minimum,” Marilyn comments. “In the event of entertaining or hosting a friend for a weekend, you’ll be glad you did.” She explains that designing for two from the beginning is important as it affects small decisions like having two night stands versus one, and seating options apart from the bed. “This could be as simple as two chairs and a side table to have a conversation with someone. There needs to be an option for relaxing outside of sitting on the bed, especially for our corporate tenants.”

Embrace the Awkward Corners

Ah, the dreaded awkward corner. Not quite big enough to use as a unique zone and not quite small enough to look past. In asking Marilyn how she approaches this challenge, she shares two design solutions in particular: reading nooks and plants. “Reading nooks are a personal favorite to create the opportunity for escapism. Having just one seat and a side table can create an inviting opportunity to decompress with a coffee or a book.” Other ideas include:

  • Plants: add energy and color to a space and of course, come in all shapes and sizes
  • Baskets: particularly great for small corners and useful for collecting items like linens, blankets, or laundry
  • Corner shelving: either a stand alone corner shelf or floating corner shelves
  • Soft decor: such as poufs, beanbags, or other comfortable lounge ideas

Bio: Zeus provides beautiful, fully furnished neighborhood homes for extended stays. Check out the Zeus Blog for conversations around Design, Travel, and Community. We’ll feature properties, offer interior design tips from the experts, and share stories of residents, property owners, and partners doing things differently.

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