Studio Style: Designing under 500 Square Feet

I’ve been asked in the past by people to help them design the layout of a small studio apartment, and how to fit belongings that are meant for a full one bedroom apartment into just one room total. As in, “Hey, my livingroom IS my bedroom. How do I do this?!” Well, Let me see if I can help you. I’m the queen of downsizing and only keeping the belongings you use on a regular basis, but not everyone is. Some people have to hang onto their childhood toys, their collection of kitchen ware and they love their large sofa too much to get rid of it. Let’s see where to start…

The infamous Studio apartment of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.

1. Your Stuff. What to do with it? Well, if you plan on fitting in a small space, you’ll have to maybe think of getting a storage unit. It’s not the end of the world. You’re belongings are still, well, belonging to you, just somewhere else. Especially if you have too much for a small space. I’m assuming if you’re living in a studio it’s because you can’t afford a one bedroom or you want to downsize for a little while. Maybe you are in school, maybe you’re splitting up from another situation, and a studio fits your lifestyle. Maybe you CAN fit all of your things!

2. Storage. Get storage containers for your things. Plastic totes are on sale often. Consider getting a bed that’s far enough off the ground to put bins under. Know someone who likes to build things? Maybe have them build you a headboard with extra storage in it for your books, a lamp, some night-time necessities and misc items. Label your storage, and maybe consider turning one whole wall into a shelving unit. Hang bars from the ceiling (in studs!) for clothing storage, or bike storage.

This is an awesome creative idea for kitchen storage. I did this at a friend’s apartment for a blank wall in the kitchen with shelving purchased at Ikea and only spent about $105.

I’m in love with this super creative storage solution. You can even go to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for the wood boards, and possibly even the piping. Add your belongings and art and you’ve got a sweet storage wall.

This is a creative way to add storage too.

3. Layout. There are some cool websites out there to help you layout your furniture given the space you are left to work with. Don’t be afraid to just move your things around untill you find a configuration that works for you. Room dividers and book cases make great walls in small spaces.

This is a great idea for a layout for a long space. Putting your furniture back to back works great for one room. Image Link

This article from Apartment Therapy is about 5 Smart Studio Layout Ideas.

4. Design. If you are ever planning on having people over, you may want to think of sprucing up a bit. The perfect place to go on a budget (let’s face it, you’re on a budget. You live in a studio) is Ikea. Or Target. Or the Thrift stores. Sofa beds and futons are great pieces of furniture, or using your bed like a sofa with the long side against the wall and pillows on the back are great transitional pieces. Small end tables as night stands are perfect for small spaces. Tables with leafs are ideal for making small and bigger on a whim. Add cute lamps all over for warmth and light. Using mirrors to reflect any natural light you get is a great way of making a small space seem larger. You can get cheap large mirrors at places like TJ Max or Burlington Coat Factory, although I prefer to thrift. Like always.

This is a perfect example of a studio that is adorable and vintage. Talk about waking up to natural light!

Consider adding some bright colors to a small space to boost the mood of the room. You can push the furniture to one side to create a corridor to walk through your room. Wall storage is essential in a small space to get things off of the floor.

5. Organization & Cleanliness. If you’re in a small space, you’re going to have to stay organized, and clean. Make sure your clean laundry is put away, your books and magazines are in order, and your groceries are where they go. Take the garbage out, because it’s going to smell way faster in a tiny space.

This seems like a good way to organize AND recycle an old pallet. Image link

Studio living isn’t all bad. Think of some movies that had studios in them? High Fidelity? Sex and the City? The TV Show White Collar has my favorite Studio of all time. I dare you to not fall in love with it. Happy studio living!


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