Full disclosure: The first time I walked into my now studio apartment, I walked right back out. "It's much too small," I promptly told my real estate broker. "I would never be able to fit all my stuff," I convinced myself, reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that the one-bedroom space I was moving out of in my hometown was a luxury I could no longer afford—not in Manhattan, anyway. Six months later, though, here I am, in the very same overpriced studio apartment with the same limited amount of space.
Despite its very obvious flaws (insanely loud heating pipes and, well, the size), it also has its charms: a quiet courtyard-facing top floor, a renovated kitchen with dishwasher, and sunlight streaming in from three sides. As many New Yorkers, I repeatedly tell myself that sometimes, the best things really do come in a small package.
The decorating of said studio did not come without its own set of challenges, either—squeezing an entire home's worth of furniture in a space that could essentially fit on a 9-by-12-foot rug is a jigsaw puzzle reserved for experts only. After drawing out dozens of layouts, I learned a thing or two about studio apartment layouts. Do you live in a studio apartment of your own? Are you considering a city pied-à-terre or converting part of your home into an Airbnb suite? Tour one studio apartment—laid out four ways—and pick up a trick or two about decorating in a small space.
Unequivocally, this layout is the one that makes the studio feel most spacious. The challenge: You need to concede to a twin bed, something not every grown adult is prepared to do. This is a great layout for a recent graduate who loves to have people over and doesn't mind sacrificing a bit of sleep real estate in the process.
- The twin bed maximizes space in the small studio.
- The dresser doubles as a TV stand.
- Small stools fill in the role of coffee table and can be moved around or used as extra seating.
- An extra wardrobe creates ample closet space for storage.
- Not everyone wants to sleep in a twin bed.
- The layout doesn't account for a workspace, which leaves the bed or kitchen counter to double as your home office.
While very pleasing to the eye, this layout is mostly only functional for those who spend very little time at home. It would be a great solution for a pied-à-terre, for example, or someone with a lively social calendar and a demanding career. It's minimal functionalism at its best.
- A large entrance console doubles as a desk.
- The bed is positioned facing inward, creating symmetry.
- A settee at the foot of the bed can serve as extra seating when guests come around.
- The minimal amount of furniture gives the illusion of more space.
- This layout doesn't leave any space for a real "living area."
- While easy to navigate, it also creates a lot of dead space.
This layout accounts for the fact that sometimes, more than one person lives in a studio apartment—which adds an extra layer of challenges. In this arrangement, everything is planned to make space for two—extra storage and extra seating—something that's no easy feat.
- Extra closet space is created with a large double wardrobe.
- A bistro table is tucked in the corner for breakfast and dinner.
- The dresser doubles as a spacious nightstand.
- Comfortable chairs allow seating where a sofa wouldn't fit.
- The bed is pushed against the wall to maximize living space—not ideal for the one who has to literally climb into bed.
- The lack of sofa is only ideal for couples who don't like to Netflix and snuggle.
This layout was inspired by the high efficiency of small hotel rooms—with all the basic living requirements but using no extra space for fluff. It's practical and livable for a single person who knows how to Marie Kondo like the best of them.
- The low-slung sofa can tuck under the kitchen island, maximizing space.
- The layout allows for TV watching from the bed or sofa.
- The lounge chair creates a cozy reading nook in a sunny corner.
- The desk positioned near the entrance doubles as a hallway console.
- The sofa next to the bed means the bedside table must be very petite.
- Without an additional armoire, the closet space is very limited.