11 of the Most Inspiring, Idea-Packed Studio Apartments We’ve Seen This Year

published May 19, 2021
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If you’ve ever felt completely stumped while trying to merge style, functionality, and storage into your home, you’re not alone. Decorating your home can be a challenge, no matter how much space you have — but it’s especially the case when you’re trying fit all your favorite items into a studio apartment.

Of course, sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to set you on the right path. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I just don’t have enough room for everything!” you’re in the right place. Here are 11 studio apartments that are small on square footage but big on ideas.

1. This retro-inspired studio uses color blocking in the coolest way.

Studio apartments are basically one large-ish (or, often, not large at all) room that you can ideally separate into areas with different purposes. In a genius move, Karst Rauhé created unique zones without taking up any floor space by painting different colored wall arches throughout his 290-square-foot Amsterdam studio. The earthy color palette of the murals combined with vintage furniture turned this tiny studio into a warm, retro haven.

2. This dreamy boho studio has open everything.

Swapping a bigger home (and a walk-in closet) for a 380-square-foot San Diego studio with an open kitchen, open shower, open all-the-things was a challenge that Danielle Peterson happily accepted. She decided to go minimal with her style in order to maximize her space — and opted for an open closet made up of a single clothing rack. The neutral palette that dominates Danielle’s design style is warm, welcoming, and airy.

3. Here, an artist uses stylish furniture pieces to “hide things in plain sight.”

Obviously, finding storage in a studio isn’t easy — but Clare Spooner makes it happen in her 350-square-foot New York City apartment by cleverly turning furniture into storage opportunities. She hides spare linens in the steamer trunk she uses as a coffee table, stores “enough drawing pads to open a small art supply store” behind the sofa, and even displays her shoes on a ladder her father made.

4. This studio has a “personality fridge” and a framed pair of chewed-up shoes that you just have to see for yourself.

Angie Eng‘s biggest piece of decorating advice is to “start with how you want your space to make you feel, and work backwards from there.” It shows in Eng’s 350-square-foot New York City studio. As part of a personal gallery wall — made up of reminders of friends and experiences — Eng framed a pair of shoes she couldn’t bear to part with after a friend’s dog chewed them up. And the front of the refrigerator features pictures, articles, tchotchkes, and magnets. “I really think having a personality fridge is key to making a house a home,” Eng says.

5. “Tiny luxury” is really a thing in this micro condo.

For Mitch Johnson, it’s all about the basics in his 300-square-foot micro condo in Washington, D.C. “There is everything I need and nothing that I don’t,” Johnson says, adding that he only purchases and decorates with nice items that he really likes — something he calls “tiny luxury.” This studio is proof that minimal square footage doesn’t mean minimal style.

6. In a professional organizer’s studio, not only is less “more,” it’s actually better.

Faith Roberson encourages people to only keep things that make sense for their space, and the professional organizer had to put her own rule into effect when she downsized from a two-bedroom to this 512-square-foot apartment in New York City. Luckily, she says her “smart studio” was optimized for easy use and storage, from the kitchen’s overhead cabinets to the bathroom’s full-length, mirrored medicine cabinet.

Credit: Vivian Chow

7. The lesson from this studio? Do double duty.

This 380-square-foot micro condo in Toronto includes window shades that double as a projector screen — no TV required — and a side table that can double as a coffee table. “This is the perfect example that you don’t need a lot of space to create a cozy home,” says owner Vivian Chow.

Credit: Kevin Campbell

8. It’s all about the owner in this moody, modern rental.

You’ll find nods to Kevin Campbell’s Afro-Caribbean identity throughout his 499-square-foot Montreal rental. “I’m not afraid of color, pattern, texture, or bold visual statements,” he says, adding that one of his rules for creating your home is, “Be true to what you love. When it comes to creating a home that you love, it really is ALL ABOUT YOU!!” You’ll also want to check out the storage situation here: Campbell has an entire wall of super tall, matte black cabinetry that’s equal parts stylish and useful.

9. In this studio, an architect switches up the layout whenever he needs different functionality.

Ricardo Polanco moved into his 380-square-foot Toronto studio several years ago and says he “immediately saw potential and challenges in its open floor plan, as it felt like a blank canvas, which means opportunities to get creative.” Polanco has changed up that “blank canvas” of a layout multiple times. In his most recent iteration, he transformed a walk-in closet into a cozy bedroom nook so he would have more space to work from home.

Credit: Heather B

10. Take this Parisian-inspired rental as your sign to buy that item if you love it.

Heather B. of Savannah, Georgia, took her first solo trip to the Chateau de Gudanes in France in July 2019. That trip became the inspiration for her 500-square-foot apartment in a 19th-century house, which she decorated in her “thrifted Parisian chateau chic” style. When it comes to secondhand shopping and looking for pieces that speak to you, buy first and plan later, Heather says. “NEVER hesitate on buying something you love; it will not be there when you go back. If you love something you will find a way to make it work.”

11. This studio has closed storage basically up to the ceiling.

Trent Saiget hired designers to help make his 400-square-foot studio apartment in Denver feel warmer and more functional — and he definitely got his money’s worth. The designers got strategic with multifunctional furniture, such as a sleek and — notably — closed white storage system that serves as a TV stand, dresser, and place for extra kitchen items. Trent’s proudest DIY? He arranged that cabinet system to also accommodate a full open bar setup.