This post is part of a collaboration with Apt2B. All thoughts are my own. A big, huge thank you to Apt2B for helping me make my new apartment look like my Pinterest boards.
Recently, I moved into a small-ish studio in west LA. And, to top it all off, I took the plunge and moved into a studio with another human being–my boyfriend. At first, you probably wouldn’t dare consider moving with someone else into a space with nowhere to hide. I was certainly afraid to at first. Not because I don’t love my boyfriend, but because I equally love and value my space, and I have a certain obsessiveness about the way I construct the places I call home. Moving into a studio with someone else literally challenged both of these needs, but surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it’d be to design a small space together that I’d absolutely love. Now, “chic,” “modern,” and “roomy” might not be the first words that come to mind when you think of studio apartments, but that’s exactly what I sought out to do when I was mapping out this 692 square-foot rectangle we’d come to call home. It’s only been a few weeks, and there are still tons of things I want to add (helloooo, wall art), but if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that you really can do a lot with a little space! All it takes is some careful planning and consideration. Here are 8 tips for decorating a studio apartment that I’ve used to help me design a space I could proudly call home.
And no, I am not talking about hanging curtains over your windows (but yes, definitely do that too). One of the qualms of studio living is the lack of walls to divide up the space. I knew that my boyfriend and I would have different schedules, and I wanted some sort of visual way to differentiate where we slept vs. where we “lived” and ate. So, I found some 11 ft curtain panels online and hung them up! And while the curtains don’t really do much for the sound, they have been fantastic so far for blocking out light and allowing me to catch some extra Z’s while the boyfriend is getting ready for work. Curtains are a quick and easy way to define spaces in your apartment, especially if there aren’t any existing walls to do it for you.
Additionally, if you live in an apartment that doesn’t let you hang things (or, if you are not handy whatsoever. Ahem, hello), we actually used a 12 ft tension rod that doesn’t require any drilling or nailing things to the wall.
Pay attention to dimensions
I knew going into my next apartment that I was going to want a sectional. To me, something about having a nice sectional screams “adulting, handled,” and I really wanted a living room that I could be proud of and would want to show off! But, most regularly-sized sectionals are like… 9 or 10 feet long, and my new living space? 14 feet wide. Er, 11 if you don’t want the couch blocking the front door. In my last apartment, I already had to deal with sending back a couch that I ordered because it wouldn’t fit through the door (Measuring is a real thing you guys. Don’t overlook this like I did!!). So this time, I wanted to do things right.
I came across Apt2B while I was on the hunt for my dream sectional. I immediately fell in love with everything (to the point where I even started adding random pillowcases to my wishlist fit for pillow sizes I didn’t even own). But one thing that stood out the most was that Apt2B actually had a GORGEOUS couch, nay, sectional on their site that rang in at 7 feet by 7–the perfect size for my little space. And, it wasn’t just a sectional. In bright, bold Chicago blue, it was a statement piece, as any good couch should be.
Measuring out your space and being realistic about the things you can accommodate is key, especially when you’re trying to maximize a small living space. With a smaller, apartment-sized sectional, I could 1. Actually fit it through the front door, 2. Incorporate other elements into my living room that wouldn’t have otherwise fit, like an eye-catching accent chair and a fun side table, and 3. Have a living room that didn’t feel like it was being swallowed up by cushions and pillows. All good things, if you ask me.
Use your vertical space
When you walk into my apartment, you’ll notice right off the bat that the living room isn’t huge. Neither is the sleeping area. But one thing we do have is vertical space. I hung a chandelier over the dining table, directly in line of sight from the front door, so that when you enter the room, your eyes are immediately drawn upward. For whatever reason, this helps the place feel way bigger than it is. We also hung lights on the walls on either side of our bed to free up space on our nightstands! No matter how you do it, tapping into your vertical space, whether it’s through light fixtures, shelves, or wall art, will help any room feel bigger and more fully realized.
Measure every inch
This is so, so important, especially when you live in a small space. With the two of us living in a studio, we knew that we were going to have to get creative with how went about consolidating two lives into less than 700 square feet. And, with both of us being writers, workaholics, and occasional freelancers, we knew that our workspaces were going to be a pretty big deal. Originally, when I was mapping out our space, I couldn’t seem to figure out a single space for a desk to go. Every inch was accounted for, but there was a 3.5’ nook in the living room that wasn’t really being used. 3.5’ is tight by most people’s standards for a desk, but we searched all over until we found a perfect desk that rang in at 41.5 inches. Literally, there is only a centimeter of clearance on either side of the desk, but hey, it worked! And yes, we have to fight every now and then over who gets to use it, but our little office space is everything we could’ve wanted it to be, and by fitting it into this little nook, we were able to make it work without compromising any space from the living room area.
Build what you don’t have
One of the biggest issues with our studio was the closet. If you know me–hell, even if you don’t know me–you’d probably assume that I have a ton of clothes and shoes. Our one closet in the apartment was 100% mine from the very beginning. So we built a second closet to accommodate my boyfriend’s wardrobe. If it didn’t come with it, build it. Odds are, you’ll probably be more proud of it when you’ve created it with your own hands anyway (his closet definitely looks cooler than mine now, which is the reason it’s the only one I’m showing you).
Innovate your storage
Of course, those 2 clothing racks don’t do anything to help with our massive amounts of shoes, my purses, and all of our other things. We both hate clutter, and so we had to get a bit innovative with the ways we hid our stuff while still keeping it organized. So, we bought an over-the-door shoe rack for him, a shoe rack disguised as a dresser for guests to put their shoes in when they come over, an over-the-door purse rack for my bags, and over-the-door cabinet storage for our bathroom. There are tons, literally tons, of creative storage solutions out there designed to optimize any space. Rather than succumbing to the space you were given and thinking you have no choice but to just stuff things away into an already too-full closet, consider storing things behind doors, under your bed, or creatively in plain sight. I bought nice metal and copper baskets to store our workout gear and our extra towels, both of which are clearly visible in our living room and bathroom. But, it works, because they’ve been given a designated container that fits my aesthetic. The possibilities for creative storage solutions are endless, and often much cheaper than you’d think!
Define spaces with area rugs
This one’s probably obvious, but it still needs to be said. Especially when you only have one room that you’re trying to compartmentalize into several different spaces. We got a large rug for the living room area to visually separate it from the office, entryway, and dining room areas (yeah, there’s a lot going on!). It’s a quick and easy way to distinguish one area from the next.
Reflect your room
Mirrors are another great and easy way to make a space feel bigger, since they reflect the room and give it more dimension. We got this gorgeous freestanding mirror from Apt2B to help us open up our living room, and to give us a good excuse to snap outfit pics whenever we’re heading out the door (guilty).
There ya have it! I love how this studio turned out, and with a little creative thinking and ingenuity, we were able to fit all of our things in this space without making it feel small. And actually, I think it feels really open and airy, and the way we designed it plays a big role in how we were able to pull that off. If you’re moving or even just thinking about creative ways to optimize your space, I hope that you find some of these tips useful!
What do you all think about my new studio? Do you live in a small space, and if so, what little tricks did you use to make it feel like home?