This First-Time Studio Dweller Has DIYed an Organized and Beautiful 400-Square-Foot Home

updated Jul 12, 2019

This First-Time Studio Dweller Has DIYed an Organized and Beautiful 400-Square-Foot Home

updated Jul 12, 2019
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Name: Emily Krutz
Location: Lincoln Park — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 400 square feet
Years lived in: 8 months, renting

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When asked about the limitations of entertaining in her 400-square-foot Lincoln Park studio, Emily Krutz just shrugs, “None really. I’m actually going to be hosting brunch here later today.” That easygoing attitude is how she managed to create a very amenable kitchen, living room, dining room (albeit, an intimate one), and bedroom out of one single small room.

Clever positioning of room “segments” makes this layout remarkably functional. At first pass, most people wouldn’t think to position the bed at the entrance. But getting the sleeping quarters out of the way makes way for a roomier living area, which rightfully benefits from fewer spatial compromises; after all, it’s where you’re going to kick back, read, work, perhaps even eat and entertain.

But creating this setup wasn’t without its growing pains. “The bookshelf wall acts as the main divider between the two spaces, but I still wasn’t crazy about walking into my apartment and having my bed be right there. I knew I wanted some sort of a divider between my bed and front door, but I didn’t want it to feel too closed off or to be an eye-sore.” After no luck finding anything that would accomplish the look she was going for, she decided to construct a floating wall of copper pipes. “Constructing it was as easy as connecting the pieces together. Hanging it from the ceiling was a bit more challenging!”

Emily’s efforts culminate in a studio with surprisingly few compromises. No couch-bed combos or curtain dividers needed here. The space is cheerful and inviting, with vignettes everywhere that are a delight to lay eyes on. A sprawling gallery wall in the living room showcases some of her most treasured pieces. “A lot of the pieces are either prints I’ve purchased on trips and vacations or artwork done by members of my family, so each piece holds a special meaning or memory to me.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic. When decorating my apartment, I chose items that I simply liked, rather than trying to stick to a specific design style.

Inspiration: When I scroll through my Instagram feed I would say 70% of it is design related. Some favorites are Domino, Loom + Kilm and MyDomaine.

Favorite Element: The gallery wall. Collecting and finding all the right frames and art took quite a bit of time (i.e. years), but it was worth it.

Biggest Challenge: Space — or lack thereof! This is the first studio apartment I’ve lived in, so at first it was a challenge trying to figure out the most conducive layout for all my furniture and how to best organize things.

What Friends Say: Inviting, cozy and that it doesn’t feel like a studio.

Biggest Embarrassment: I wouldn’t call it an embarrassment, but if I could change anything I would change the cabinets and counter tops, especially the sink in the bathroom. As a renter though, I’m kind of stuck with what I got.

Proudest DIY: The hanging copper divider between my bed and the door. I knew I wanted some sort of division between my “bedroom” area and the door, but I didn’t want it to feel too closed off or to be an eyesore. This was the perfect solution.

Biggest Indulgence: Books! Any more and I’ll need to think about getting another bookshelf.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to break design rules and use things in unconventional ways. I have layered rugs at an angle, have my stationary on display in hanging baskets above the desk, and am using a bench/shoe rack as a coffee table — yet it all seems to work in the space.

Dream Sources: I would give my right arm for a pair of Selig Z chairs.


Collingwood — Benjamin Moore
Evening Dove — Benjamin Moore

Hanging baskets above desk — Amazon
Rods above desk — IKEA
Letter board — Etsy
Calendar — Rifle Paper Co.
Table — Craigslist find
Chairs — Vintage

Bedding — Bloomingdales
Shelves— Target
Letter board — Etsy
String Art — DIY
Bookshelves — IKEA

Dresser — Vintage
B&W Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire print — DIY
Jewelry chest — DIY from old kitchen cabinet
Chair — Vintage
Pillow — Urban Outfitters
Seinfeld print — Etsy
Line drawings — Based on drawings by Frédéric Forest

Sofa — West Elm (similar here)
Chair — Kohl’s (in cognac)
Eye pillow — Urban Outfitters
Coffee table — Etsy
Rug 1 — West Elm (similar here)
Lamp — Target (similar here)
TV stand — DIY

Hanging copper divider — DIY
Dresser — Vintage
Mirror — Target (similar here)

Thanks, Emily!

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