Creative Storage Solutions (and Lots of IKEA) Help Two People Share a 450-Square-Foot Studio

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Credit: Jenna Kruger
The living area and sleeping area are divided by an open console table and a cabinet.

Name: Jenna Kruger and my husband
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Credit: Jenna Kruger
A reverse view of the apartment reveals how a well-considered layout adds functionality to the space.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My husband and I moved to Dubai with only a few suitcases. We knew we wanted to live close to the metro line for my husband’s commute, and in our price range that meant an apartment with limited square footage. We fell in love with this particular unit for the amazing lake view, the amount of natural light the windows let in, and the functionality of the layout, which is vital when two people are sharing such a small space.

Credit: Jenna Kruger

The IKEA BRÖNDEN rug adds warmth and texture to the living area.

I am easily overwhelmed with crowds and sensory overload, so it was important to me to craft our apartment into a calm, cozy, “hyggeligt” haven from the bustling city life just outside our doors. Since we can literally see all corners of our apartment at once, we selected furniture that fit the space, had multiple uses and storage features, and added beauty and a sense of calm to the space. We have taken much care to limit what comes into our home, only including items that are functional and beautiful, and letting go of things that are not serving us well.

Credit: Jenna Kruger

We also have quite a few creative storage solutions to make all of the items we do use regularly fit together in our limited square footage. Our Instant Pot wouldn’t fit in our kitchen cabinets, so it’s tucked away (under a special-fit cover) in the console underneath the television. We store bulk food items in the tall cabinet in the living room, our roasting pan lives in a pull-out drawer under the bed, and our sizable board game collection fits into a few specially-designed Gamefolios in the living room. Thankfully, nothing is ever really too far away in a studio apartment, so we don’t mind the slight inconvenience of fetching items from their creative resting places!

Credit: Jenna Kruger
The dining area is tucked into a nook between the kitchen and living areas. An Instant Pot is stashed under a cover in the open console table.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: A functional “hyggeligt” studio apartment.

Credit: Jenna Kruger
The entire kitchen is contained in one wall of the apartment, maximizing the space.

What is your favorite room and why? I spend a lot of time on the chaise portion of our couch, with the rest of our apartment and the lake in full view. When the apartment is tidy, this is one of my favorite views, especially enjoying the string lights, a lit candle, and the view of the lake! I enjoy the simplicity of our apartment—how everything has a proper place and how cohesive it all feels, aesthetically. You can’t avoid problem spots or storage woes in a studio apartment for long, so I’m grateful for the eye-pleasing and functional solutions we’ve been able to create in our space. We have opted out of some traditional furniture items (like a coffee table and a dresser) to make room for things we wanted to be able to do in our space instead—like keeping extra floor space clear to practice Pilates and pull our extendable dining table into the living room for game nights. Making this space really work for our lifestyle has added to my overall enjoyment of the apartment.

Credit: Jenna Kruger

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? When we renewed our lease for the second year, we rearranged the layout of the apartment and divided the sleeping area and living space with an IKEA HEMNES Open Console. We also added the IKEA BRÖNDEN rug then as well, fulfilling my husband’s request to “add more color” to an apartment that—up until then—had been firmly in the neutrals camp with a pop of golden yellow. The rug is a favorite with us and with all who visit our space for the first time, and it really helps to differentiate the apartment’s spaces visually, as well as add some texture and warmth to the tile floors and white walls.

Credit: Jenna Kruger

Any advice for creating a home you love? Do what feels right for you and your space! It took me a while to trust my instincts to keep things simple and streamlined when the world is always pushing for more, more, more. But as someone who values a clean and calm space, I’m really pleased with the results of some careful furniture selection and valuing simplicity. I’d also advise those trying to “live small” to not be afraid to build your space slowly. Live in your space for a few weeks, paying attention to the ‘pain points’ you encounter, before you make final decisions on furniture and storage solutions. That way, you only bring into your home the items that are going to serve you well. I’d also advise people to rearrange, reconsider, and revise your belongings often! Just because something served you in one season of your life does not mean it has to be yours forever. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are cluttering your physical space. Lastly, enjoy the small things! Something like a nice candle or a new throw pillow can go a long way in a small space, so indulge in new items on occasion, but focus on enjoying what you do have.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.