How to Live in a Studio Apartment

There’s a lot to like about studio apartments. Studio living is quaint and cozy, and it’s a great way to save money on living expenses. Plus, you’ll have a built-in excuse when friends and family are in town looking for a place to stay instead of a hotel. “Sorry, I just don’t have the room!”

But, studio apartments have their drawbacks as well. Thankfully, with some careful planning and a bit of ingenuity, it’s easy to maximize your space and make the most of it. Just because you don’t have much space doesn’t mean you need to live small.

Today, we’ll take a look at some helpful tips, tricks, and best practices that can help you make the most out of your studio apartment.

You Aren’t the Only One Sizing Down

While the 90s and early 00s were a time of McMansions and opulent living, more and more Americans are downsizing their homes, and they seem happier for it. While the average home size in America is around 1,000 square feet larger than it was in the 1970s, most American’s living in large homes are ready to downsize.

A recent survey from Trulia suggests that 3 in 5 Americans living in houses larger than 2,000 square feet would like to downsize when it’s time to move.

Younger renters are also driving the market towards smaller apartments of the studio and one-bedroom variety. While past generations have prioritized size, new renters are prioritizing budget, and they’re happy to sacrifice space if it means they aren’t stressing their budget to pay rent.

Compared to ten years ago, the size of apartments, in general, are shrinking to meet market demand. Over that time period, the average apartment has shrunk by about 5%, while studio apartments have shrunk by about 10%.

The moral of the story here is that more renters are looking to downsize to smaller studios and one-bedroom apartments. In past years, renters have prioritized space. But how much space do we really need? The truth is, living smaller can be just as fulfilling as living in a large house can, and it’s a great way to save money on rent and utilities.

The Benefits of Living in a Studio Apartment

With so many people downsizing or considering downsizing for their next apartment, there has to be a reason. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits that come with living in a cozy studio apartment.

Less Space = Less Furniture to Buy

When you’re faced with an empty home or apartment, the first step is to furnish the space. This is one way you can turn your house into a home, and furnishings are the best way to add warmth and life to your apartment while also offering a comfortable place to relax for any guests you may have.

By the same token, furniture is not cheap, especially well-made and high-quality furnishings. Anyone who has ever needed to furnish a two-bedroom apartment or a home can tell you, the cost of furnishings adds up quickly.

Meanwhile, when you’re furnishing a studio apartment, you only need to worry about a few key pieces, like a bed, some seating, and maybe some bookshelves or cube shelving units. Many renters already own all or most of the furniture they’ll need for their new studio apartment before they ever sign the lease.

Plus, since you won’t be needing as much furniture, you can focus instead on buying quality pieces when there’s something you need, instead of having to sacrifice quality in the name of furnishing as many rooms as possible.

Studio Living Establishes Better Consumption Habits

One of the drawbacks of living in a larger apartment or home is that it sets us up to consume more than we need. For most apartment dwellers, their lifestyle is set up to consume fewer resources, even though they probably don’t realize it.

Think about it, smaller apartments require less building materials, they’re easier to heat and cool because of their small size, and they need less lighting. All this translates to a home that consumes far less in resources than you would if you had larger accommodations.

Your Utility Bills Will Shrink

This goes hand in hand with our last point; living in a studio apartment will save you money on your utility bills. Smaller spaces mean less heat and less electricity, which are the two main utility bills that every household must account for in their monthly budget. Over a year, living in a studio will save you hundreds on your utility bills compared to a larger apartment or home.

Cleaning is Easier and Faster

For people who live in large homes, one of their biggest concerns is usually the time and effort that they spend cleaning the house. Larger homes generate more dust, there’s generally more clutter, and for many people, cleaning the home means setting aside a full day each week to get the job done.

Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about cleaning nearly as much when you live in a studio apartment. Since there’s less space, there’s less to clean, and the cleaning process is confined to a single room or two, instead of throughout the whole house.

You’re Less Likely to Accumulate Junk

The funny thing about space is that when we have it, we feel an innate need to fill it. Conversely, when we don’t have space, we’re much more judicious about what is and isn’t worth keeping around.

Having less junk is excellent for a few reasons. First, you’ll have less clutter to look at and deal with in your living environment. Plus, when it comes time to move, you won’t have to worry about contending with all sorts of useless stuff you insisted on keeping around just because you had the space to store it.

Smaller Spaces Encourage Quality Time

One of the issues with living in a larger space is that it allows each member of the household to retreat to their favorite corner of the house so they can be alone and do their thing. Meanwhile, living in a small apartment means there’s less space, and the space that you do have is shared.

Assuming you have a roommate or spouse living with you, living smaller will encourage you to spend more time together enjoying each other’s company.

Your Bank Account Will Thank You

One of the most compelling reasons to live in a studio apartment is the money it can save you. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment is several hundred dollars less than the average rent for a one-bedroom. Compared to a two-bedroom apartment or a home, the monthly savings can be over a thousand dollars.

By spending less on rent, you should be able to save more money for your future or to treat yourself to something special, or a fantastic vacation at the end of the year. The possibilities are endless!

Tips For Making the Most Out Of Your Studio Apartment

It’s easy to look at a tiny house on television, or at an apartment set in a store like Ikea and imagine how easy it would be for you to live within a smaller space. But, the reality of the situation is that living smaller can be challenging. But, challenging doesn’t mean impossible, and with some small changes, you’ll be able to make the most out of your studio apartment.

Define the Space Within the Apartment

One of the first things you should do before you even begin moving your furniture and stuff into the apartment is to spend some time outlining the different spaces in your residence.

Start by thinking about the different things you’ll be doing in your apartment. Obviously, you’ll be eating, sleeping, and relaxing there. But what else will you be doing in your apartment? Do you plan on entertaining? Do you need a space where you can work from home?

Once you have an idea of the activities you’ll be doing within the confines of your apartment; you can start to map out where you’ll be placing each “activity area” within the studio.

Start by deciding where you’ll place your bed since that will occupy the most space in your apartment. From there, you can define areas for hanging out, for getting work done, and even for entertaining.

You can further define these areas by providing visual cues that help to identify each area. A lamp in the corner of the room with a single chair may suggest that this area is a reading nook. A small desk and a laptop will indicate that this is the office area, and so on.

Divide and Conquer

One of the major drawbacks to living in a studio apartment is that there isn’t any built-in feature to separate the bedroom from the living area. As a result, you may feel exposed and like you don’t have any privacy in your own home. An easy way to remedy this issue is by purchasing a room divider that separates the bedroom area from the rest of the apartment.

There are hundreds of different options available, from glass walls that let natural light shine into the bedroom, to Japanese style paper walls. A quick search of any home goods store will reveal tons of different options.

Make Your Furniture Perform Double Duty

One of the keys to making the most of your living space is to have as many items as possible that serve more than one purpose.

A futon can serve as a couch and also as your bed or a bed for any unexpected guests who may spend the night. An ottoman can serve as a footrest, additional storage, seating, or a coffee table, depending on what your needs are at that time. A bookshelf can provide storage while also serving as a room divider.

When it comes to furniture that performs additional functions, the possibilities are endless. Necessity is a great catalyst for innovation; you may be surprised by the creative new applications you can find for furniture that is born from your space concerns within the apartment.

Avoid Clutter at all Costs

The hardest part about establishing and maintaining a beautiful life for yourself within the confines of a studio apartment is resisting clutter. No one likes to part with things that are important to them, so it’s easy for your collection of things to balloon to a point where they’re ruining the flow of your apartment, and hogging up otherwise useful space.

Avoiding clutter can be especially tricky if you’re downsizing from a larger space. If you find that you simply have too much important stuff for the size of your apartment, you may need to consider what storage options you have.

Ideally, you have a friend or relative nearby who is willing to carve out some space for you to store your extra possessions. If not, there are probably several storage facilities in your area that can provide you with the extra space you need at a price you can afford. Most storage facilities also have generous offers available to first-time renters.

Trick the Eye

One of the best ways to make your apartment appear more expansive is to trick the eye into believing it’s bigger than it is. There are tons of innovative ways you can create the illusion of space, and they all do a great job of making the space feel bigger and airier.

Mirrors are a great way to give off this illusion, as the reflection of other areas of the room will give an illusion of depth that makes the apartment look significantly more substantial.

If your space has plenty of natural lighting, you’re already ahead of the game. During the daytime, keep blinds or curtains drawn to take advantage of the beautiful natural light. At night, or any time if you don’t have natural lighting at your disposal, make sure you have plenty of bright lighting to liven the space and give the illusion of space.

Accent lighting in each corner of the room is also a great way to create the illusion of space. By lighting each corner of the room, it will appear larger than it is. You can also create the illusion of space by layering your lighting in a given area. Instead of relying on a single light source, add additional sources of light to that area for a spacious layered effect.

When it comes to lighting, try and keep things off the floor as much as possible. Floor lamps look great and can add an element of design to your home, but they also occupy lots of space. If possible, mount lighting from the ceiling or on the walls.

Another useful trick is to paint the apartment with a high-gloss finish. A high-gloss paint will reflect more light off the walls, which will instantly make the apartment feel more substantial, brighter, and more spacious.

Invest in a Set of Nesting Tables

Anything that can nest into another larger item is a huge plus when it comes to studio apartment living. Nesting tables, in particular, are a great way to ensure your apartment has plenty of surfaces to place things on when you need them.

Nesting tables can be used as coffee tables, end tables, tv dinner tables, and so much more. They’re also especially useful for when you have company over.

Get Vertical

When it comes to decorating and storage, we tend to forget about all the space we have above for storage and decor. Think about your apartment like it’s New York City. New York City is the most populous city in the world, and it’s also one of the tiniest. So, how does the city accommodate all of the people? They do it by building up instead of out.

Vertical storage serves two purposes, as well. Not only will it provide you more storage space and help to reduce clutter, but vertical storage also draws the eye upwards, which helps create an illusion of spaciousness.

Get Creative With Your Furnishings

Another way to create a more livable environment is to use your furniture and decor to your advantage to make the apartment feel more spacious.

Large furnishings should always go against the wall to maximize the space in the center of the room. If possible, furniture that’s the same color as your walls will blend into the wall, making it look practically invisible.

If you’re buying new furniture and decor for your place, it’s also helpful to slim things down as much as possible. Obtrusive furnishings, like overstuffed sofas and loveseats, will occupy tons of space in the apartment, and they’ll also make it look even smaller than it already is. Instead, try and purchase sofas and seating that maintains a slim profile.

Seating that’s lower to the ground will also give the illusion that your place is smaller than it actually is. So, opt for tall furnishings with long legs wherever possible.

If you have a rug, make sure it’s at least a foot short of the total dimensions of the apartment on each side. A rug that exposes some of the floor in each direction will make your apartment appear larger than it truly is.

Raise (Your Bed Towards) the Roof

Every studio apartment could benefit from additional storage space, and the most obvious place to look to acquire that space is underneath your bed. Think about it, your bed occupies a huge space in the apartment, and it doesn’t serve much of a purpose during non-sleeping hours. By raising your bed, you can reclaim some of the space you’re losing.

If you’re currently shopping for a new bed, consider shopping for a storage bed, or place your bed frame on risers so you can store items you don’t often need underneath the bed. Whatever is under the bed can be easily hidden from view with a bed skirt.

While most people won’t have this option at their disposal, building a Murphy bed into the wall or creating a loft space for the bed will allow you to reclaim tons of space inside your apartment. A loft bed, in particular, is ideal because it allows you to create an entire space below the loft. This area is ideal for adding a small table and some cafe seating, and it lets you create a de facto dining area in your tiny space.

Embrace the Purge

Purging your space of the things you don’t need can be therapeutic, and it will also help you avoid cluttering your apartment with things you don’t need. But, purging can be challenging to do. After all, who’s to say whether or not you’re going to need that sweater you wore once in 2005 that now has a hole in it?

One way to remove the emotional element of purging is to track how you use the items in your apartment. By tracking how often you use something, you’ll be able to make your decisions based on facts instead of emotion.

Create a system for cataloging the items in your apartment. You may want to create a color-coding system or put a small date sticker on things you don’t use frequently. If you use the item, update it in your system to indicate you’ve been using it occasionally.

When it comes time to purge items, you’ll know precisely when the last time you used them was. It’s much easier to part with the things you aren’t using when you can use logic to say, “okay, maybe it’s time for me to let this item go since I’m not using it.”

Plus, whatever items you purge can be donated, and they’ll have a second life with somebody who will appreciate it and use it more than you will.

Get Creative With Your Storage

Many studio apartments are severely lacking in the storage department, which can be a problem. You can overcome this problem by thinking outside the box when it comes to storage.

The kitchen is chock full of different storage areas that you probably wouldn’t consider. If you have extra closet space in your kitchen, consider using it to store your things instead of treating it like a pantry. You can also use your oven and refrigerator for storage if you’re in a pinch.

If you’re really short on storage, other areas, like underneath your bathroom sink, will get you by in a pinch.

Get Organized

Improving your organizational skills will doubtlessly help you to maximize the space you have, and allow you to make the most out of it.

Studio apartments are notoriously short in the storage department, so it’s even more important to make the most of what space you do have, and the kitchen is usually the best place to start.

First, consider adding organizers to your storage drawers. You’ll be amazed at how much extra space you have in your drawers when everything has its own place, and nothing is haphazardly thrown into the drawer.

Next, consider adding hooks or a storage solution to one of the walls in your kitchen to store your pots, pans, and large utensils. This tip can be especially helpful if you’re hurting for storage in other areas of your apartment because you can use the cabinets you would typically store pots and pans in to store other necessary items from elsewhere in the apartment.

Once you see how much space you’re able to open up by organizing your kitchen, you’ll probably feel inspired to apply these concepts to other rooms in your house.

Decorative storage bins and cubes allow you to store away essential items without detracting from the decor in the rest of the room. Feel free to get creative with your solutions, since there’s no wrong way to get organized.

One area you’ll want to be sure to address is the space behind your door. An empty door offers tons of room for you to store essential items; all you need is the right storage organizer.

For the front door, consider adding an organizer that you can use to hang coats, keys, an umbrella, and other items you’re likely to need when you’re walking out the door each day. For the bedroom, you’ll be able to find plenty of organizers that provide shelving and storage for jewelry, perfume or cologne, and whatever other tchotchkes you need to store.

Final Word

Studio apartment living is a challenge, but it can also be cozy, empowering, and save you a ton of money on rent. If you aren’t sure how to live in a studio apartment, the tips above should give you a much better idea of where to start.

The key to adapting to life in a studio apartment is to maximize your space in as many ways as you can, get creative with your furnishing and decor choices, and avoid cluttering your place with unnecessary items at all costs.

If you follow these three principles, you’ll already be well on your way to enjoying a happy and fulfilling life in your new studio apartment!

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