How to Design Your Studio Apartment Like a Pro

December 01, 2017

How to Design Your Studio Apartment Like a Pro

A studio apartment is one room. It can be called an “efficiency, a “bachelor apartment” or a “lifestyle cube,” but they all mean the same thing—one room. A studio should not be confused with a one-bedroom apartment.

A living space with just one room represents obvious and unique decorating challenges. But none are insurmountable.

Decorate it correctly and a studio apartment will go from “cramped” to “cozy.” Choose the right elements and you can create the illusion of a larger space. Execute a few time-honored tricks and your living space will be a place you can’t wait to come home to.

There are four simple yet significant items or categories that should be considered when designing your studio apartment: bedding, bath, window treatments and general home décor.


Perhaps the most efficient piece of efficiency furniture is the Murphy bed. But the lowest MSRP on one of those is north of $1,000 (same with sofa beds). So, studio dwellers must often deal with having a bed in their living room.

It’s agreed that horizontal stripes make a room look wider.

Skillful use of striped sheet sets might make the bed not just look wider but also lower. Also, having a magazine-worthy bed is important if you plan on having visitors. It will make your studio apartment look more like a chic abode rather than a messy dorm room.


If you think the apartment itself is small, wait ‘til you see the bathroom. It can be cruise ship tiny. The bath presents the same problems as does the studio apartment proper, but on a micro scale.

Though it seems contradictory, we’re often told to stay away from smaller patterns when decorating a smaller space. But it seems like sound advice when making choices for the bath.

The shower curtain dominates a compact space so it can make a bold statement without having to add any additional decorative elements. Choosing between horizontal and vertical stripes is a matter of preference.

Either way, one ironclad law for any small space, room, alcove, chamber or cubicle is this: avoid jarring changes in colors from the floor to the ceiling.

Try not to give the eye any help when it comes to where the floor begins and ends or where the ceiling starts. Remaining consistent – “staying in the same color neighborhood” – when choosing decorative items is a good idea.

Pair the shower curtain with eye-catching rings and a mat in a complimentary solid color.

General Home Décor

When talking about home décor, we’re talking pillows, throws, area rugs and such.

It is important to pay attention to dimensions, harmony and scale.

When you were preparing to sign the lease, you most likely knew the square footage of your future dwelling. Well, you should continue to pay attention to such details when choosing a pillow.

Small pattern? Bold statement? A whimsical but compact 16-inch by 16-inch sequined pillows? Or how about just a 12-inch by 18-inch monochromatic pillow in coral?

Optical illusions are a decorator’s friend!

When choosing an area rug, for instance, keep the general dimensions and scale of the living area in mind. An 8-foot by 10-foot rug is probably too large for most studio flats. A 5-foot by 8-foot rug might more appropriate. Perhaps a pair of 4-foot by 6-footers can help you break up the living space and/or define an area.

Window Treatments

Previous generations called them “curtains.”

The way you treat your windows can make your studio look and feel like a larger space. Relying on the theory that vertical stripes make a ceiling seem higher, long curtains, starting low and going nearly to the ceiling might do the trick. And if you think outside the window box, you might notice that certain window treatments can be rigged to provide privacy for, say, a sleeping area, or even to hide storage areas.

Remember, as always, to keep it simple. Too much fussing and you’ll end up blocking that glorious light. An apartment that lets in the light avoids appearing hovel-like. Conversely, a window – and a curtain – that provides privacy while letting in the sun will automatically open things up.

Let us not, however rule out the idea that darkness might come in handy on occasion. Folks living in sunny climates may—either because they’re working “heroic” hours or because they’re working unusual hours—have a need for so-called “blackout curtains.” They can darken a room when the sun is highest in the sky. And they’ll also take the strain off the air conditioner.