Emily Schildt, co-founder of Thing of Wonder, lives in 400 square feet in Brooklyn. But beyond the challenge of living in a small space, she also has to tackle the challenge of living in just one room. Not only is her Fort Greene studio apartment lovely, it's also highly functional...for her! As an avid entertainer, she's chosen a furniture layout that works for how she lives — which in her case means the unusual choice of placing her bed right near the front door.
But Emily didn't come to this ideal-for-her furniture configuration instantly; she cycled through three furniture layouts first before settling on her final and current design. I asked her to share the furniture layouts she tried first — and explain why they didn't work for her.
Below is the evolution of the perfect studio apartment layout, for this specific person and this specific studio. But though the solution below is perfect for Emily, you might pick up some ideas, inspiration or confidence to try out different furniture layouts in your own studio or small space.
Furniture layout 1
First, I tried putting the bed in the alcove. That made the most sense, in terms of using the alcove to define a separate room and wanting a more private, designated area for where I sleep. I didn't like it for two reasons: 1. it was strange to me to have the bedroom just off the kitchen. (Would I be sleeping and smell strange remnants of dinner? Would I spill food on my bed, carrying it to the dining area?) And 2. this meant that I wouldn't get the most direct sunlight in the bedroom, which was something that was super important to me in moving to this apartment. I wanted to be able to be flooded with light in the morning.
Furniture layout 2
Then, with the dining area in the alcove, I tried placing the bed in front of the fireplace. But, no. I immediately nixed the idea of covering the apartment's best feature...even though it would make a great headboard.
Furniture layout 3
The last one I tried before deciding on the layout as I have it now was placing the bed in the center of the main room with the head of the bed at the entry to the alcove. I was going to ground it with a small dresser behind it that could then have a TV on it and turn the alcove into a living room area. I was going to settle on using a coffee table for entertaining. And, this would also allow me more room for closet storage, a wardrobe or garment rack, to the right of the fireplace. But ultimately, I felt like the fireplace was getting lost and wouldn't be the focal point for company, and I was settling on the dining space that was so important to me.
Final and current ideal layout:
The layout of this apartment is tricky because the alcove, where the bedroom would typically be, is off the kitchen, which I thought strange. And, it was important to me to have a formal dining room for entertaining. I put the dining room in the alcove, making use of the close proximity to the kitchen, which meant I had to play with the floor plan for my living/sleeping space a bit. Ultimately, I put the bed next to the fireplace, which I like, but does mean it is right in front of the front door as you enter. . . .
It was very important to me to have a full size dining table so I could host friends for dinner and post-farmers market brunches, so I was happy to indulge on this item. It expands to seat 8+ (and it makes my heart so happy to have that many people in my studio!). Worth every penny. . . .
Don't worry about what other people like or if something "goes" in your space. There are no rules. Your home should be a reflection of the things you find interesting and give you comfort. You'll be surprised to find it all comes together. — From Emily's house tour
See this ideal furniture layout in action! You can see more images from Emily's house tour → A Dreamy 400 Square Foot Fort Greene Studio Apartment
Amazed that Emily entertains in such a small space — even with a perfect-for-her furniture layout? Read more about how she does it → How to Throw a Party When Your Living Room is Also Your Bedroom
Editor's note: None of these floor plans are to scale. And I though I illustrated the layouts she described above with her info, the alternative layouts aren't exactly how each layout she tried looked; they're estimations for the purpose of illustrating this post.