The Studio Apartment Layout on Its Way Out, According to Real Estate Pros

published Jun 8, 2023
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Credit: Jung Hi Han

When you sign a lease for a one-bedroom apartment, the floor plan pretty much dictates how you’ll arrange your living space. But when you move into a studio apartment, you’re often working with more of a blank canvas — and deciding on a layout requires some creative thinking to maximize the open (yet compact) space.

A lot happens all within this one large rectangular room — your studio is where you sleep, relax, cook, work, study, do at-home workouts, and more — so it may feel instinctual to carve out distinct zones within a studio apartment, each to sync up with your daily routines. 

But real estate experts say studio apartment layouts that are overly compartmentalized are falling out of fashion. Renters are no longer tucking sleeping areas in one corner, working zones in another, an eating area in another corner, and living space filling the middle. 

“Instead, people are seeking a more fluid, flexible design that can be adapted to their changing needs,” says Humberto Marquez, a licensed real estate agent with Awning.com.

He suspects remote work is partially driving the trend. As people spend more time in their homes, Marquez says, they’re looking for spaces that can transition seamlessly from a work area during the day to a relaxation or entertainment space in the evening. 

It helps that things like Murphy beds (which fold up neatly into a wall) have come a long way. There are plenty of comfortable options and even some pull-out beds that double as desks for the work-from-home studio renters. 

Along the same lines, fewer renters are using folding screens or the three-panel partition walls to break up spaces, says Sal Dimiceli, Sr., owner of the Lake Geneva Area Realty in Wisconsin. More modern ways to divvy up rooms without making them feel cramped include custom glass doors, he says. Or, renters can visually break up the space with artwork, murals, or wallpaper that give a different feel throughout the studio. 

Credit: @lebanorge

Want to try out a few different layouts without rearranging your furniture and belongings multiple times? Studio apartments typically range in size from 250 to 700 feet, Dimiceli points out. If you’re considering renting a studio, and need help visualizing if and how your furniture will fit in the space, you can try using design layout apps like Amikasa or the IKEA Room Planner, he suggests. 

As far as demand for studios go, renters don’t want apartments to just feel like an oversized room, says Rick Albert, a broker associate with Lamerica Real Estate in Sherman Oaks, California. Natural light and outdoor space, which can act as an extension of the studio, can give the studio a better feel, he says. 

Looking for some inspiration on laying out your own studio apartment? Here are 11 studio apartments that are small on space, but big on design.