This 400-Square-Foot Studio Features Clever Budget Decorating Ideas

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Name: Stefanie Kalbfleisch
Location: Toronto, Canada
Type of home: Studio apartment in a house
Size: Approximately 400 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: With the Toronto rental market being so competitive, when I found this studio apartment in a converted attic in both a desirable area and within budget, I knew I couldn’t sit on it. Although the space was tiny, (at only 5’3” I still couldn’t see myself in the washroom mirror), I knew there was potential to transform it into a space that felt like home.

Once in the space however, I realized how dark the exposed brick wall coupled with the gray cabinetry made the apartment feel. There were also certain furnishings that came with the apartment that I was unable to change (even though I would have loved to). The challenge was to counter the dark, heavy furnishings within such a small space, and detract from the things I wasn’t too keen on, all without having to sacrifice a style that felt like me.

Living in this studio apartment and working within a budget, I’ve had to be more creative in how I utilized things. For the dormer windows, since the ceilings were lower, I found fabric shower curtains in a graphic pattern and hung them as curtains. Instead of investing in an expensive rug for my small living space, I found a heavier weight throw with fringe detail, and paired with a plush carpet pad underneath, it worked perfect as a rug. Since these items serve as double duty, I can always use them as they were intended in another space.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Curated, art-filled, blending vintage and new.

What is your favorite room and why? Even though my apartment is a studio with no concrete division between rooms, I have still managed to create separate and defined spaces through the placement of my furniture. With that in mind, my favorite space would have to be my bedroom area. After rearranging the space numerous times and multiple ways, inspired by the aesthetic of boutique hotels, I finally landed on a configuration that has made this space more functional and surprisingly feel larger.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? Ideally I would love to have more space and more storage. Since it’s a studio with minimal storage, there’s barely enough room to store the things I love, let alone hide clutter. I find that if one thing is out of place, it can instantly make the entire apartment look messy.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I think it’s important to take the time to curate a space that feels like you; a space you enjoy coming home to everyday. Regardless of if you rent or own, your home should ultimately be a reflection of you, and include items that bring you joy and make your space feel like home. Take your time finding pieces you truly love, but also don’t wait to start decorating and enjoying your space just because things aren’t perfect.

This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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