Living in a Tiny Studio? Here Are 12 Ways to Make It Work

Use every square inch to its full potential.

Use a Bookshelf as a Room Divider

Modern Dorm Room With Multifunctional Furniture and Futon

Modern Dorm Room With Multifunctional Furniture and Futon

When buying furniture for a dorm room or other small living space, choose pieces that are multifunctional. A futon is the perfect example; by day it can be used as a sofa, but by night it can instantly turn into a full bed. Here, white tables on casters are used as an entertainment center and a mobile coffee table and the cubed bookcase not only stores books and kitchen essentials, but serves as a room divider, too. Photo courtesy of IKEA

Photo by: Courtesy of IKEA

Courtesy of IKEA

With the openness of a studio apartment, sometimes it’s hard to establish a defined floor plan. A great way to do this is to carve out an area in your studio with a large piece of furniture like a bookshelf. In this example from Ikea, they're using a tall shelf to block off some space for a home office.

Turn Your Bed Into a Daybed

Floral Pillows Complement Geometric Wallpaper in Feminine Studio Apartment

Floral Pillows Complement Geometric Wallpaper in Feminine Studio Apartment

Natural light filters into this small, feminine space, making it feel brighter and larger. Since the fun, geometric wallpaper is the anchor for the design, white bed linens, floral pillows and colorful stools were added to break up the pattern and bring some additional color into the space, creating an interesting, fun, unique design.

Photo by: Susie Herr

Susie Herr

If you’re short on space, you can turn your bed into a daybed. This would allow you to use your bed as a couch during the day to create extra seating options in your studio. You can simply create your own daybed like designer Susie Herr did here, by placing your twin or double bed against the wall and using large throw pillows to create a couch-like look.

Designate an Accent Wall

Contemporary Studio Apartment With Accent Wall

Contemporary Studio Apartment With Accent Wall

This Upper West Side studio began its life as a bland white box. Now, soft cream on the walls continues to the ceiling beams, adding depth and dimension to the space. The hand-painted pinstriped paint treatment is both easy to produce and easy to cover up, an ideal combo for a rental. Removable wallpaper by LABLstudio forms a focal point on one wall, and layered bedding exudes youthful, casual charm.

Photo by: Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams

Creating an accent wall in a small studio is a great way to create some visual interest. In this example from LabLStudio, they used a bold, abstract wallpaper to define the space in the bedroom. The accent wall serves as a giant piece of art.

Try a Loft

Eclectic Loft With Blue Music Studio Space

Eclectic Loft With Blue Music Studio Space

A wooden loft area provides room underneath for a small music studio. Accessorized with a piano, hanging guitars and a banjo, the space is a cozy spot for playing a favorite tune.

If you have tall ceilings in your studio, building a loft is a killer way to add some additional square footage to your space. In this example, the owner created a sleeping area in the loft and used the space underneath as a small music studio.

Create Your Own Closet Space

Studio Apartment Closet

Studio Apartment Closet

This closet is actually located in the open corner of a studio apartment, where fashion expert Lindsay Albanese shoots her YouTube videos. Designer Lucinda Pace of Laurel & Wolf found that Lindsay was using her clothes closet for storing boxes, paper towels, and other miscellaneous items, while her clothes hung on collapsible rolling racks. The designer created this “Style Studio” for Lindsay along one wall to act as clothing storage, a video set and an apartment design element all in one. The chaise, formerly a catchall for un-hung clothes, was reupholstered in ivory microsuede, and now serves as the perfect place for Lindsay to interview guests.

Photo by: Nick O’Neill, Courtesy of Laurel & Wolf

Nick O’Neill, Courtesy of Laurel & Wolf

Studio apartments often have limited closet space. However, this example from Laurel & Wolf reminds us that you don’t necessarily need a closet to store your clothes. If you’re lacking closet space, consider using an empty wall to create an open-air closet. Using different drawers, shelves and hanging racks can allow you to create the perfect "walk-in closet."

Get Creative With Shelving

Contemporary Built-In Wine Rack

Contemporary Built-In Wine Rack

A custom built-in provides ample storage in the open dining room and sets the stage for entertaining. We love how the piece integrates storage for both wine bottles and glasses in a simplistic fashion.

Photo by: Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams

Another great idea for an open wall in your studio is creating a unique shelving unit. LabLStudio created some additional storage space in the kitchen with this simple, custom wood shelving unit. Wine bottles are stacked but still accessible, and wineglasses are neatly arranged.

Keep Your Bike — Just Store It

Wall-Mounted Bike Rack

Wall-Mounted Bike Rack

The main room in the apartment is multi-use; it's a living room, a kitchen and a dining room. In order to preserve valuable floorspace, the designers opted for a wall-mounted bike rack.



It’s next to impossible to find storage space in a tiny studio apartment for a big, bulky bike. In another genius project by LabLStudio, they show us how you can actually treat your bike as a piece of art. Hang a bike rack on your wall, and proudly display your bike under a colorful painting. The bike is still easily accessible, but it's also completely out of the way. Best of all, it’s not taking up any of your limited floor space.

Don't Be Afraid of BIG Art

Feminine Apartment Living Room

Feminine Apartment Living Room

Large-scale artwork fills this small apartment living room with color. A pink Nina Ricci dress and sequin shoes were used as accessories to personalize and add a feminine touch to the transitional space.

Photo by: John Dolan Photography

John Dolan Photography

There’s no need to shy away from big art, even in a tiny studio apartment. Right Meets Left Design gives us a gorgeous example of how to use big, bold art in a small space. You could also try a big art piece like this above your bed in lieu of a headboard.

Use Curtains to Define Your Space

Cozy Studio Bed with Luxurious Fabrics

Cozy Studio Bed with Luxurious Fabrics

A readymade bed was painted and built-in to look like custom cabinetry. Airy, floral curtains separate the bed from the rest of the apartment

Another easy, no-fuss way to define your space is with curtains. Jarret Yoshida Design used gauzy curtains to create a private sleeping area in this studio.

Make Use of Every Corner

Cozy Corner Banquette With Framed Botanical Prints

Cozy Corner Banquette With Framed Botanical Prints

This cozy small space features large windows and banquette seating. Green striped walls house framed botanical prints, giving the space a natural feel.

From: Kristi Nelson

This charming corner banquette in a space designed by Kristi Nelson helps bring home the point that in a studio, you need to make sure you’re efficiently using every square inch of space. Banquettes are a great option if you need to create an additional seating area or if you only have a tiny amount of space to create your dining room area.

Wall Shelves Are Your Friend

Modern Living Room With Wall-Mounted Shelves

Modern Living Room With Wall-Mounted Shelves

These Mantel Wall Shelves from Room & Board give you a chance to show off your favorite books or decorative items like framed photos. With each shelf holding up to 20 pounds, they're a great way to add display storage and keep clutter from taking over your home.

Photo by: Room & Board

Wall shelves are another great way to define areas and create extra storage space. Since they're available in various sizes, you can create a wall shelf arrangement like this one which isn’t evenly stacked but makes great use of the limited space above the sofa. A simple wall shelf is also a great solution next to your front door if you don’t have enough room for any entryway furniture.

Focus on Double-Duty Furniture

Eclectic Mudroom With Bench Storage

Eclectic Mudroom With Bench Storage

This eclectic white entryway houses a functional mudroom featuring a contemporary storage bench. Wooden shelving is situated above the bench, creating additional storage options. Colorful geometric patterns are used to keep the space feeling lively and trendy.

In a studio apartment, it makes sense to choose as many double-duty furniture pieces as you can. Don’t just choose a bed — find one that has built-in storage underneath. If you don’t have room for a dining table, choose a coffee table that’s big enough for you to sit at when you have your meals. And if you're going to get a bench, make sure you follow TerraCotta Design Build’s lead and get one with additional storage inside.

Functional + Chic Studio Apartment Makeovers

See All Photos

Small Studio With Big Style

Hand-painted pinstripes and removable wallpaper on one accent wall add instant style to this small studio on Manhattan's Upper West Side. A petite sofa comes alive with pillows that feature bold brushstrokes of magenta, and a feather Juju hangs above as a whimsical touch. A modern console table does triple duty as a vanity, workspace and dining table.

Small Shotgun Style

Since this shotgun-style apartment is only eight feet wide and 375-square-feet total, it was important to keep a clear pathway throughout the center, creating somewhat of a galley-style home. To keep the apartment both functional and stylish, furniture was arranged along two opposite walls with nothing in the middle, balanced visually with proper scale and proportion.

Smart Studio Storage

Closets are a great way to store clothing and other home essentials, but they can be a challenge in a small space. Removing closet doors is a great way to make a closet in a small space feel larger and give you easy access to the items inside. Drapes are a nice alternative for those who like an open closet but want the option to close things up when guests come over.

Photo By: ClosetMaid

Sleek + Efficient Loft

The kitchen and living space in this 330-square-foot New York City studio apartment is kept spare to minimize visual clutter and maximize space. The floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinetry provides storage, while a compact table does double time for dining and working. A sleek, compact kitchen doubles as the base for a lofted bed to add extra space.

Mastering a Tiny Apartment

Upon entry, the dining room opens onto the sleeping area, making the proper placement of living room furniture challenging. But a pair of French doors separates the bedroom from the dining room. Glass panels provide privacy without sacrificing natural light.

Privacy Wall

Partial walls create the feeling of a separate and private sleeping space in this crisp, white studio apartment.

Tiny, Built-In Bedroom

Since this small studio apartment lacked a defined bedroom, airy curtains were hung to separate the sleeping quarters from the rest of the space. A readymade bed was painted and built to look like custom cabinetry.

Photo By: Jarret Yoshida

Neutral Sophistication

This studio apartment may be small in size but makes up for this deficiency with sophisticated city style. Neutral walls and curtains make the space appear much larger, while black and silver accents add to the crispness of the style. The living room's furniture arrangement keeps the space separate from the bedroom and study area, giving the small apartment more functional areas. Tip: Lucite furniture is a perfect addition to ultra-small spaces. This coffee table is hardly visible but still serves its purpose. The piece relieves the space of bulky furniture, preventing a crowded look.

Maximum Use

This 12-by-17-foot apartment doesn't leave much space for creating a separate bedroom, kitchen and living room, but the neutral color scheme and warm accessories provide an open feel with the intimacy of a small space. "My biggest challenge was creating a space that didn't feel like a bedroom. I placed the bed next to the kitchen to allow maximum light and views out the windows," HGTV fan moderngeek73 says. Tip: Keep furniture and decor to a minimum if your space is extra small. Use small light fixtures and furnishings.

Room for Entertaining

This stylish Philadelphia studio utilizes every inch of space without making the room seem busy. The neutral walls and bedding keep the space controlled and balanced. "I tried to separate the space with organic textures, eclectic accessories, shiny metallic objects, soft draperies and unique lighting schemes," HGTV fan greendesigner says. To quickly hide the bedroom from the kitchen and dining area, he added tall draperies as an easy room divider. Tip: Downsize the furniture to expand the space — buy a loveseat instead of a large sectional. If you like to entertain, invest in small barstools; they take up little space and provide plenty of seating for guests.

Funky + Vibrant

HGTV fan Wicket47 updated the narrow living room of this 300-square-foot apartment with a splash of color and funky wallpaper. Minimal decor and a crisp, white sofa allow the black-and-white graphic wallpaper to stand out without being overwhelming. Deep forest-green draperies are a perfect balance to the sofa and add a dramatic touch. Tip: If you're going to use a black and white color scheme, mix in a vibrant hue, like yellow or lime green, to break up the monotony.

Eclectic Personality

The narrow space in this studio apartment is made functional with stylish storage solutions, floating shelves and multipurpose furniture.

Industrial Accents

High, exposed ceilings automatically make this 700-square-foot apartment seem much larger. HGTV fan rbaby separated the bedroom from the living room and dining area with a cubicle bookshelf. The look not only provides additional storage but gives the bedroom some privacy from the rest of the space. Tip: Spice up a small studio with a vibrant focal wall in red or orange.

Multifunctional Space

The effective layout of this space gives it the full functionality of a regular apartment. Offset from the bedroom, the sofa faces the back wall creating an intimate seating area of its own. A cubicle shelf unit serves as a simple room divider between the living room and bedroom. Small, sleek accessories and decor make the space visually appealing while keeping it from appearing cluttered. Tip: Use warm colors, like orange and taupe, to make the room look cozy without feeling dark.

Keep Reading

Next Up

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Tiny Outdoor Space

Turn that once wasted patio into the outdoor retreat you've always dreamed of.

Fixer Upper Goes Tiny: Joanna's Tips for Living Small, Stylishly

A pint-sized historic shotgun-style house gets the Fixer Upper treatment. 

9 Things You Never Thought You'd See in a Tiny House

A two-story tiny house that tilts onto its side? Anything is possible. 

How I Fit a Baby Into My Tiny NYC Apartment

When you live in a 750-square-foot space, every inch counts. 

12 Designer Fitness Centers That Will Make You Actually Want to Work Out

Ready to #getfit? Dip, squat and lunge in these incredible fitness sanctuaries.

6 Designer Tricks to Make Your Small Apartment Feel Big

Short on square footage? Try these designer-approved ways to stretch your space.

7 Designer Decorating Ideas to Steal for Your Entryway

Leave your troubles at the door, because styling your space just got so much easier.

6 Ways to Glam Up Your Instagram and Make Everyone Jealous

It's time to ignite your inner creativity, and you don't need an expensive camera to do it.

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts