When you have limited space, every design decision counts. Experts share how to make the most of your one-room abode. Bonus: These helpful tips translate to any small space.
Treating It As One Room
Your first instinct in a studio apartment might be to treat it as one open room instead of dividing the space into even smaller spots. But creating zones will help maximize your space (and sanity). Using room dividers or rugs to delineate spaces means you won’t have to eat on your bed anymore. “Think about how you use space and lay out furniture accordingly, making sure to define zones for entertaining, sleeping, and working from home,” says interior designer Heather Hilliard. “Tuck one or two ottomans under a console table to pull out into the space when you need extra seating for guests. Try to include pieces of furniture that can have more than one function, like a desk that can be used as a dining table. With the right layout, you can pack a lot of utility into a small space.”
Hanging Curtains Too Low
Correctly placed curtains can transform a small room. “When hanging drapery, mount the rods as far up on the wall as they will go: the closer to the ceiling, the better,” says interior designer James Wheeler. “This draws the eye upwards, making the windows appear larger. I love using track-like hardware that can be mounted directly to the ceiling.” You’ll want to choose curtains that reach all the way to the floor.
Choosing Too Big or Too Small Furniture
“The biggest mistake I see in studio apartments or small spaces is homeowners using the incorrect scale of furniture in their space,” says interior designer Abbe Fenimore. “Using too small or too large furniture can wreak havoc on a room, ultimately making it appear smaller than it actually is.” On the same note, avoid crowding the space with too much furniture.
Being Afraid of Pattern
You can be adventurous in a small space, too. In fact, experimenting with different colors and patterns might enhance the room. “Consider wallpapering with a dramatic patterned paper to create interest and depth in the design. Your apartment will feel much larger,” says interior designer Young Huh.
Trying to Do an Accent Wall
Your studio apartment will feel more pulled together if the walls are painted one unified color. “I tend to paint small spaces all one color, so it doesn’t break up the flow,” says Fenimore. “Not to say that accent walls can’t be achieved, but these are better served in larger spaces, behind beds, or in an entry. As a studio is all one room, it’s best to keep everything really clean and basic. This makes it easier to layer in color and texture into each individual area.” If you want to add something eye-catching to a wall, why not try art? “Instead of accent walls, I prefer gallery walls with a mix of framed artwork or prints to add personality and interest,” says interior designer Wendy Labrum.
Leaving Your Bed Out in the Open
“Don’t just put your bed right out in the room,” says interior designer Kyle Schuneman. “You can create visual separation by creating a bed nook with cabinets, wallpaper, and a sconce so it feels like a room within a room.” Another quick and classic trick is to use a bookcase or folding screen as a room divider.
Decorating With Accent Pieces That Fall Short
Too many accessories could make your small apartment look like an episode of Hoarders, but with too few, it may look sparse. With the accent pieces you do choose, aim for those that will create the illusion of more space. “Incorporating taller, oversized pieces of art in a small room elongates walls, and opens up the room,” says Wheeler. Mirrors will trick the eye, too. “Use mirrors to create the illusion of space and to bounce light – it’s the oldest trick in the book,” says interior designer Jason Grant. “Position them opposite your window to double your view.”
Buying the Wrong Furniture
Now that small space living has become more popular, a wide variety of furniture pieces are available to do double duty—offering extra storage or folding to become more compact. “Murphy beds are always good, plus ottomans which open for storage. Sofabeds are great, too—I slept on one from Avery Boardman for years!” says interior designer Brett Beldock. “IKEA has terrific storage units and movable closets which can divide a room.”