When you’re decorating a studio apartment, the most important things to pay attention to are having a sense of continuity flowing through all your design and decorating choices, making sure you don’t make your apartment feel smaller than it actually is, and also creating distinct “zones” for sleeping, eating, relaxing and working.

Choosing colors for studio apartments

Gray and light green make a simple, airy color palette for a studio apartment.

A general interior design rule to keep in mind is that the darker the color, the smaller the space feels. Additionally, the bigger the space, the greater the variety in colors a space can handle. Most small homes, especially studios, will do best with a color palette of only two to three main colors.

Paint/wall colors

In a studio, mid-tone colors or lighter are usually best. Shades of mid to light gray, green, blue, and yellow are especially suited to small apartments and studios. You can use variations of the same paint color (lighter or darker) to delineate separate “rooms” or keep all walls the same color.

Color themes

In a studio, use a cohesive color theme throughout the apartment – for example, don’t have red and white bedroom accessories and green and blue living room pieces. Make sure all the colors “talk” to one another.

Know your decorating style

Modern decorating style, with simple lines and sparse colors.

If you’re decorating with a “gut” feeling for what you like and don’t like, it’s common to pick out furniture and accessories that don’t work well together when they’re all in the same space. Learning a little bit about interior decorating styles will help you consistently pick out not only what you like, but understand whyyou like it. That way, you will be able to pick out coordinating pieces on your own.

See our favorite interior decorating quizzes

As with color themes, your decorating style should be consistent throughout your studio apartment – your home is simply too small to support a mix of decorating styles and the studio will feel overwhelming and chaotic very quickly.

Choosing furniture

If you get a chance to walk around the apartment before you have to move in, bring measuring tape and record the maximum sizes to fit in the various areas of your home. This will take more time up front, but it will save you time once you’re visiting furniture stores or perusing Craigslist, because you’ll be able to quickly disqualify items from your home and make it easier to make a final decision.

Paying attention to scale

Choose small tables that are appropriately scaled for your studio apartment’s “dining room”.

Scale, or the proportion of the size of interior furniture and decor in relation to the total size of the space, has a big impact on whether a space feels empty, cramped, or just right. Your studio will feel better if you decorate with appropriately sized pieces: for example, consider loveseats instead of couches, chairs instead of loveseats, queen or full sized beds instead of kinds, two small coffee tables that can be moved easily instead of one big coffee table.

Scale tip for studio apartments with tall ceilings: Apartments that are in converted warehouses or similar spaces with very tall ceilings also need to make a point to use the vertical space in the studio, or everything in the home will feel too squat and low to the ground. Try four poster beds, tall, narrow armoires or dressers, vertical wall shelves, artwork hung vertically on the walls and/or lighting hung high up to draw the eye upward and balance the tall ceilings.

Using multifunctional  and hidden storage furniture

  • Ottomans: can function as seating, side table and hidden storage inside.
  • Coffee tables: coffee tables with tops that can be lifted up or drawers can conceal small living room items that would clutter the top of the coffee table.
  • Trunks as benches: can function as storage and extra seating, and even an extra open surface or table when necessary.

Studio apartment furniture layouts

When arranging furniture, the general rule is big to small, most important to least important.  Ideally, you will have paid attention to the “scale” tip and have furniture that is proportionate to the apartment, so that everything you need will fit. Either way, start with fitting the bed in, then usually living room seating and a media center, if you have one, should go next. Any work surface or desk should follow, then dining pieces and seating.

Tips for arranging your furniture

Any seating or reclining area should be placed where  the occupant’s back will be the wall instead of an open area or door, whenever possible, which can have a profound impact on how secure you feel in the room psychologically.

After the big pieces are in, it’s usually helpful to lay down the “room” dividing pieces, at least temporarily, to get a feel for how the space will feel once everything is filled in and make sure you’re not overlapping any pieces across your imaginary or real dividing lines. Once the major pieces are fitted in, work your way down by size, from bigger pieces to smaller pieces.

See complete studio apartment furniture layout guide .

Separating different functional spaces

Though the open space in a studio may be appealing to many people, it’s usually preferable psychologically to have at least a visual (if not physical) division in different areas of the apartment, especially the bedroom.

Visual room dividers can also serve decorative and organizational purposes. Rugs, bookcases, plants and large pieces of furniture can be placed strategically to provide a sense of enclosure and separation.

See more tips on how to divide a room .

Organization and storage

The wicker storage boxes arranged in a pattern provide ample storage while still being stylish.

In small spaces, a good organization system is vital to keep your possessions under control. There is simply no room to hide away clutter until you’re ready to deal with it, so you must have a good strategy in place that will encourage you keep things neat.

Choosing attractive organization and storage

In a studio apartment or condo, there usually is not a lot of built-in storage like large closets or built-in shelves. This will normally mean that much of your storage is going to be fairly visible. Other people can get away with using ugly old plastic boxes for storage and stuffing them out of sight in a closet or garage, but you won’t have that option.

Therefore, it’s important to use organization products that are at least reasonably attractive and don’t bother you to have to see all the time. Your storage will look best if it is:

    • Color coordinated with rest of your decorating theme
    • Uniform (similar sizes and shapes) and neatly arranged

Arranging your organization products

Your items should be stored based on how often you need to access them. For example, nothing you need to access everyday should be uncomfortable or inconvenient for you to get to. The less often you need an item, the more difficult to reach and “hidden” it can be. For example, you may want to store your underwear in an box hidden under the bed, but bending down to getting a clean pair everyday will quickly get tiring, and make it much more likely that you will not stick to the organizing system. Try a cute, opaque box or drawer out in the open instead.

General studio apartment decorating tips

As you decorate your studio, keep in mind these basic decorating tips.

The magenta in this studio is balanced out by plenty of white pieces, making the whole apartment feel calm and comfortable.

  • A small studio, especially if it has low ceilings, cannot support a lot of bright color. Get major pieces like sofas and tables that are in neutral colors, and bring in the colors of your decorating scheme through small pieces like table runners, pillows and throw blankets.
  • Cleaning regularly will keep every square inch of space in your apartment completely functional, and will also help keep open surfaces clutter-free, making you feel like you have plenty of room.
  • Basic decorating rule for small spaces: simple designs are usually better than ornate pieces in small spaces, and “few” is better than “many”. What does this mean in a practical sense? A studio apartment will often feel more comfortable and not crowded with simple, modern items more than it can with detailed (such as many colors, engravings or carvings) pieces. Also, it’s better to have one or two larger pieces than multiple smaller ones (for example, go for one or two large, dramatic vases instead of a half dozen smaller vessels).