Even the most stylish of studio apartments can come with design challenges. The idea may be reminiscent of dorm life and cramped quarters, but whether you're moving into your first apartment or living in a city with astronomical rent prices (hello, San Francisco and New York!), sometimes an open-plan space is your best option. Prior to moving, you might be worried about feeling cramped, cluttered, and generally claustrophobic—but with the right design touches, your new studio can easily become your favorite place.
Living in a studio apartment can offer plenty of possibilities that will prepare you to brave the world of micro-living. To get started with the basics, edit down your possessions to the bare minimum by keeping only those you love most. It's also helpful to concentrate on a single aesthetic and use multi-functional furniture pieces to save valuable space.
Keep scrolling to browse the best studio apartment design ideas from some of our favorite interior designers, and remember: Less is more.
Start With the Essentials
The best way to start designing your new studio apartment is by paring down any items you don't need. Start from scratch with a fresh, clean space that won't be bogged down by clutter—and simplify your life in the process. Start editing down your wardrobe, kitchen utensils, bathroom supplies, and even old décor that doesn't suit your style anymore.
At first sight, this Swedish studio apartment appears to be quite spacious, but in reality, it's barely 250 square feet. The trick? The entrance, kitchen, and bedroom are all painted in complementary colors, creating a visual progression of space. The sole pop of color is in the back living space—everything else is kept completely neutral.
If your space is mostly bright white, aim for a relatively toned-down version of your favorite hue when choosing accent colors. For example, steer clear of vibrant shades like lime green and hot pink that can make the room feel smaller.
Limit Your Color Scheme
In seriously cramped living quarters, you have to get creative when it comes to design ideas. In this studio, the bed might be a little too close to the kitchen (out of view) for our comfort. However, because the color scheme is unified and simple, the bedroom and living area have a clean and spacious feel. The teachings of feng shui advise not to push furniture against walls or windows, but this is the perfect case for breaking the rules.
Separate Each Space
A creative glass wall in this petite pad separates the bedroom area from the main dining and living spaces, but it still allows natural light to permeate through. The twin bed is surrounded by built-in storage to keep clutter tucked away, allowing the room's vibe to remain clean and bright. If there is a right way to do a bed in studio apartments, this is it. Look for top-notch storage solutions at stores like IKEA, or get creative and build your own cabinetry custom to your room's size.
Opt for Multiple Levels
Beds in studio apartments can be tricky, but there are a few clever hacks that can quite literally elevate your space. A platform bedroom in this split-level studio not only separates the living room from the sleeping area, but also provides much-needed storage. Granted, this isn't possible in all studios—but if you have the ceiling height, it's an incredibly functional layout for maximizing small spaces.
Style in Sections
In this narrow space, close quarters call for the apartment's original tub to be placed directly next to the kitchenette. A plexiglass divider keeps the spaces separate without feeling cramped, and a floor-to-ceiling tufted-print wallpaper in the sleeping and living areas creates a feeling of luxury.
Choose Multi-Purpose Furniture
When it comes to picking out multi-purpose furniture, take your time to consider just how many functions they can serve. Consider a coffee table like the style in this living room, which along with plenty of surface space, creates room for storage bins that can hold shoes, jackets, hats, and bags. We also love the simple cube ottoman that can be rearranged around the room as a footrest for the sofa or seating for guests.
Embrace Your Studio Apartment's Height
If you can't fit a bed in your studio apartment, raise it. Thanks to a loft bedroom, the living area in this space doesn't feel cramped (and we're loving this view from the loft). A small coffee table offers room for dining from the sofa, and thin shelves create extra surface space for storage without extending far into the room.
Choose a Smaller Bed Size
While it may be hard to let go of your luxe king- or queen-sized bed, opting for a twin or full mattress is one of the easiest ways to save space in a small apartment. Pair it with furniture like modular ottomans that can be repurposed into a guest bed or extra seating as necessary, and add plush bedding to keep the feeling cozy. Style your sofa on the opposite wall of the bed for a dynamic layout that keeps your sleeping and living spaces separate.
Make the Room Feel Taller
Extra-high curtains give the room a sense of grandeur. Even if your square footage is on the smaller side, making your room feel taller can help open it up and create the impression that your studio is larger than it really is. Here, creamy curtains add a hint of contrast to white walls while keeping the design neutral and lengthening the space.
Utilize Storage Baskets
We also love how this storage furniture breaks up space between two rooms by being styled against the back of the sofa. Multiple cubbies can be used to house décor, storage bins, and necessities, or a mix of options for multi-use. This designer created an element of symmetry by keeping storage bins on the bottom and styling two woven polka-dot baskets on each side of the top shelves.
Consider a Daybed
If your studio doesn't have the square footage for a bed and a sofa, consider designing a stylish daybed to serve both purposes. This functional and attractive piece of furniture can be your go-to seating at home—whether you're hanging out with friends, watching a movie, or going to bed. It's especially helpful when you need to save space for a dining table that can be used for meals and working (or studying) in your apartment.
Extend Space Through Mirrors
Even if you're not lucky enough to have architectural details like this historic fireplace (though if you live in New York, it's not unlikely), you can style mirrors throughout your apartment to visually open up your room. Place a leaner mirror on the mantel, or for a more dramatic effect, style a full-length mirror against a wall. While it doesn't physically make the space larger, a mirror will make your studio feel wider, brighter, and more open.
Place large mirrors on the wall opposite your windows to bounce back natural light for the brightest visual effect.
Consider Your Layout
We love how this designer styled a small desk next to the bed to use as a side table. When you're working with limited space, it's important to make every inch count—so get creative when you're deciding on a layout. Open and closed storage inside the desk also makes for easy places to store laptops, books, and other necessities without taking up space on surfaces.
Style a Clothes Rack
Clothes racks can be a lifesaver in studio apartments with limited (or zero) closet space. We're obsessed with how this designer styled a black clothes rack with dark wallpaper to make them blend seamlessly together, along with wood furniture that features black legs. Even if you have a small closet, a clothes rack is a great place to keep your favorite items easily accessible (and save the closet for out-of-season clothing).
Add Surface Space on the Walls
This creative design adds plenty of storage space for books without taking up precious surface space on side tables and larger shelves. Mount a floating shelf to a wall that's out of the way from your daily walking space, and use it to stack books for a unique, boho look. Just be sure to determine whether you have drywall or plaster before buying the proper hardware—remember that books are heavy, and your shelf needs to be sturdy enough to hold the weight.
Kitchens are especially prone to clutter, as they tend to fill up with dishware, utensils, small appliances, and food. But keeping your space clear of stacked-up items is important throughout a studio apartment to make the design feel larger. Clean lines, smooth surfaces, and space between items all help to give the apartment a more airy, open vibe.
Use Cookware as Décor
Save valuable kitchen cabinet space by styling your most-used pots and pans as décor on the stove. When you've pared back to the bare essentials, your cabinets can be reserved for food and cooking utensils rather than housing larger kitchen items. If you're really feeling creative, you can even hide your microwave inside a cabinet to create more counter space for making meals.
Save Surface Space From Lighting
Rather than using side tables and floor space for lighting, hang your lights from the ceiling or mount them directly on the walls. We love how this designer plays on the classic bedroom sconce look with singular bulbs dangling next to the bed. In the living room, swing-arm wall light fixtures are a great option to save precious floor space and adjust your light for multiple purposes.
Make Every Detail Count
You don't have a lot of space for creative designs in a studio apartment, so it's important to make every detail count. Choose your décor wisely—anything that takes up a significant amount of space should have a purpose. In this airy bedroom, the bed and side table are the only real furniture, while a simple table lamp is styled in the corner. The table itself offers an extra shelf and small drawers to store books and other important items, while a small photo on the surface completes the look.