The very first apartment I ever lived in was hardly larger than a shoe box. I was a fresh-faced 19 year old college student, living off a barista salary, going to school full time and I never loved a space more than that tiny studio apartment. And it was tiny. As a 5 foot tall person I could reach out and touch the ceiling with my finger tips and the square footage was 285ft, which is small even for a studio. But I loved it nonetheless, it felt like my own Hobbit hole and the interior design nerd in me was thrilled at the decorating possibilities.

Small studio style apartment setting
Snazzy style Audrey Hepburn Print

But not everyone is like me and designing a studio can be a daunting task. What do you go without to create space? What type of furniture is out there that is both beautiful and functional? What type of decor will make the space feel like home but not overwhelm the small space?  

I learned through trial and error and with a few bumps along the way, I created a space that I was heartbroken to leave when I moved. Fortunately, the things I learned can be translated into design for other studios as well as the growing trend of tiny homes.

While looking through homeyou for inspiration for my upcoming move (and of course decorating the new place), I found a beautifully designed studio. Though me and my roommate will not be moving into a studio with our two cats because we want to maintain our sanity, I wanted to create a “Get The Look” and offer some advice for those of you looking to maximize style and space.

For those of you trying to decorate without breaking the bank, I’ve included a “budget” option for everything. For the entire studio of furniture and accessories the cost will be around $1000 dollars.

Super modern space saving room helpers
Budget options Polyvore

The Super Bed

When you move into a studio or smaller space you quickly learn that storage space is essential which is why I love the platform bed solution. These beds are not only visually pleasing, they are also a perfect solution when you don’t have room for a dresser. The drawers are also great for linens, blankets, towels and those other odds and ends you don’t think about until you have no place to put them.

Several bedroom design options
Panel Bed 1Storage Platform Bed (Budget) and Bed 3

The Couch Surfer Solution

Guests can be a struggle when you live in a studio. In a space made for only one or two, when you can a guest from out of town or a couch surfing friend (we all had one in our post college days) it can be difficult to be able to host them. These couches are a perfect solution. Convertible couches and couches with a chaise lounge are a more stylish and far more comfortable option to the futon we all love to hate.

Three different living room styles for your apt.
Convertible Sofa 1Sofa 2 (Budget) and Sofa 3

The Productivity Station

When I first moved into my studio, I didn’t have a desk. I chose to omit this option, assuming that as a lover of libraries, I’d do all my studying there. As it turns out that libraries close early and aren’t affected by tears and begging to stay open later when you have a term paper due. It didn’t take long to realize I needed to invest in one.

Secretary desks are both stylish and offer storage to hide away your items. I also included this amazing space saving desk I just bought for myself. It hangs directly on the wall and It’s enough space for the days I work from home but don’t stub my toe or bump into in my small apartment.

Different desk tables to suit your lifestyle
Floating Desk 1Secretary Desk 2 (Budget) and Writing Desk 3

I chose these desk chairs based on the inspiration photos and how much I love the accent color.  The great thing about these is the availability of colors, you can get a comfortable work chair in the perfect color for your home.

Different style chair furniture to suit your life
Office Chair 1Task Chair 2 and Task Chair 3 (Budget)

The Cheval Mirror

If you haven’t noticed so far, most things I’ve included for studio design has a dual purpose and the mirror is no different. These mirrors are all floor length mirrors as well as jewelry storage. I have one in my own apartment and love being able to store it all in one place hidden away. If your studio is particularly small, an over the door mirror armoire is a practical alternative.

Mirrors that match any lifestyle for your home
Cheval Mirror 1Floor Mirror 2 and Jewelry Mirror 3 (Budget)

Hide Away Shelves

Square shelving is great for use with collapsible storage boxes. You can use them to store and hide almost anything from DVD’s to toiletries to pantry items. Getting shelving with hooks for coats, scarves, keys and purses helps give those things a home in your tiny home.

Hide away shelving units make any problem organized, at least
Wall Shelf 1 (Budget)Shelf 2 and Basket Storage 3

The Buffet Table

As you can see from the photo of my studio, I had one of these console tables in my studio. I didn’t have a kitchen so this was a life saver. I was able to store my dry storage food as well as my dishes, small kitchen appliances, prepare food and even had a built-in wine rack.

Buffet Table (Budget) 1Buffet Table 2 and Table 3

The beauty of a home (especially a studio) is in the use of accessories. It can be a hard balance between accessorizing and over doing it. I tend to be vigilant about the functionality of my accessories but it doesn’t have to be the case. In a studio, you have to be aware of space so make sure everything you put in there makes a statement or does something useful. Clutter can get out of hand quickly.

*Decorating Tip: Mirrors make a space look larger, so one or two in a small space can give the illusion of more square footage. *

DIfferent designer options around the apartment
Pouf, Storage BinLace FrameThrowBinsStorage BenchMirror and Pillow

Exposed Brick Trick

We can’t all live in a Lower East Side studio which beautiful exposed brick walls, but we can certainly pretend. Wallpaper is no longer just for your crazy aunt and comes in styles that aren’t fruits or floral. These exposed brick options can be a perfect solution to mix it up.

Different interior walls make for the right vibe
Brick Wallpaper 1, Stucco Wallpaper 2 (Budget) and Brick Wallpaper 3

I hope that my year in 285ft of tiny heaven and all the things I learned along the way will help you maximize the style and functionality of your dream home, small or large.

Join the conversation