These 20 Studio Apartment Layouts Are the Blueprint for Small-Space Living

updated Jan 6, 2024
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Credit: Andrew Bui

Living in a studio apartment is tough, no matter the size of your floor plan. Usually consisting of just one single open room, not only do you have to contend with creating different living (and in 2020, working) zones in the same open space, but you often have to deal with very small spaces, to boot! Thankfully, there are plenty of design tools and tricks anyone can employ to make a small studio apartment work better, from acquiring studio-sized apartment furniture and implementing studio apartment dividers, to installing a Murphy bed.

Storage—or more specifically, the creating and maximizing of storage—is key to making a studio apartment livable, and you’ll find plenty of ideas in the studio apartments below (as well as in this other storage-themed round up of house tours). But hand-in-hand with smart storage ideas is how you lay out your studio apartment, as well. All the studios below master the layout of their furniture and furnishings, despite some challenging floor plan shapes and sizes.

Credit: Andrew Bui

1. This 525-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio Apartment

Emily Edelman is a senior event and experiential designer and has owned this 525-square-foot studio apartment in Fort Greene for five years. “My favorite element of my apartment is one of both form and function: a graphically bold and simple window frame cut from a sheet of matte plastic material,” she wrote in her house tour. “It visually separates my bed area from the living room area of the studio apartment, and it loosely mimics the real casement windows of the apartment. It creates a conceptual barrier in the space without putting up walls, and allows light to beat down on my bed in the morning, which I badly need to wake up.”

2. A 560-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Full of Gorgeous Renter-Friendly Inspiration

Miki Carter is a lawyer by day and an interior design enthusiast by night and runs the inspiring Instagram @plot.twist.interiors. She loves a good treasure hunt and most of her furnishings and decor are second-hand or from Target or IKEA. Her studio apartment’s layout benefits from a bed nook and a separate dining area and kitchen. But mostly her studio apartment is so special because she’s been so intentional with her furnishings. “I like decor items with meaning, and my favorites are those that remind me the most of my friends and family,” she wrote in her house tour.

Credit: Andrew Bui

3. A 400-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio That Fits a Ton of Color in a Small Space

Once Esi Agbemenu found a space worth staying in, she was able to “create a home that reflected me—no choosing furniture just because it was fold-able for a future move, or buying bland decor in the hopes it would be inoffensive to roommates—just a space that is representative of me.” Esi is a hard worker and often busy with her job, and really needed her home to be a sanctuary that gave off the specific vibes she needs. “For me that’s bold colors and fun patterns and more pillows than any one person needs,” she wrote in her house tour.

Credit: Melissa

4. This 272-Square-Foot NYC Studio That Uses an IKEA Clothes Rack in a Cute and Unique Way

Melissa only has 272 square feet in her NYC studio apartment, but the tall ceilings make it feel much larger than it is. But it’s also the way she’s laid out all the furnishings that makes it feel like a comfy and cozy home, using a sofa at the foot of her bed and other small furniture pieces to create a living room seating area. My very favorite small-space trick seen in this studio, though, is the way in which Melissa uses an IKEA clothes rack. “I needed a better solution for hanging heavy plants that didn’t involve hanging them on my curtain tension rod, and this clothing rack fit the bill! I love that it’s the perfect size for my oversized windows and allows me to hang more plants instead of scattering them on the floor,” she wrote.

Credit: Andrew Bui

5. This 296-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio Apartment That Fits an Incredible Amount of Storage

Even though it’s a rental apartment, New York-based makeup artist and stylist Kim White has invested money and energy on many projects to make the space more efficient and comfortable. “Before I moved in I knew that every inch of the place needed purpose, so I outfitted the kitchen with basic IKEA cabinets up to the ceiling to store kitchenwares as well as other less-used items that I needed to store,” she describes. Along with being smart and practical, many of her home projects were also very budget-friendly. “I found a TV stand for $15 at IKEA in their scratch and dent area, and was inspired to build a channeled banquette based off of a headboard I’d seen on Emily Henderson’s site (yay, more storage),” writes Kim. “I’m a makeup artist and those two drawers in the banquette are home to lots of product!” All of her furniture choices and storage solutions partnered with a Murphy bed make for a seriously gorgeous studio layout.

Credit: Jenna Kruger

6. This 450-Square-Foot Studio in Dubai That Two People Share

Living in a small space is tough enough when you’re solo, but sharing a tiny studio apartment, like this one in Dubai, with another person is downright admirable. “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,” explained Jenna Kruger. “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.” They also wisely use storage furniture pieces as visual dividers to add even more function to the layout.

Credit: Jung Hi Han

7. A 315-Square-Foot NYC Studio That Uses Art and Wallpaper to Create Distinct Zones

“Rather than using furniture or dividers to break up the separate spaces, I used artwork to visually break up the space,” explained Jung Hi Han of her 315-square-foot Upper East Side studio. “So the sleep area has this beautiful chinoiserie style wallpaper that I found on Anthropologie. It’s actually removable and was pretty easy to install—just a few hours. The couch is backed by a gallery wall of small pieces of art that I’ve collected over the years. The dining area has a unicorn that I randomly found in the children’s section of Target with a frame from Michaels.”

Credit: Jaime

8. A 330-Square-Foot Studio’s Custom Furniture and Smart Storage Ideas Maximize Every Inch

This 330-square-foot New York City studio apartment is a prime example of how to maximize absolutely every single inch of a small space. The “before” of Jaime’s small studio apartment was dark, but painting the existing bricks white helped lighten up the space and maximize the light that comes from the north-facing windows. The real change happened when she renovated the kitchen and bathroom and custom-built furniture for the space with her father. She was able to fit a lot of different zones in one room by customizing the furniture for just the right function.

9. A 400-Square-Foot London Studio Apartment That Uses All the Tricks to Feel Much Larger

Coming from a large apartment in Brooklyn, Tiara Christian took 400-square-foot London studio living as a challenge to try her hand at living a more minimal lifestyle. “Gone are the days of a walk-in closet the size of a small office, and this space forced me to be much more creative with how I organize and express myself,” she wrote in her studio’s tour. There’s a loft bed, mirrored cabinets, and other smart small-space ideas that make it feel much less like a studio and more like a cozy and compact one-bedroom apartment.

Credit: Karen Johnson

10. This 400-Square-Foot Studio Apartment a Retired Mom Built in Her Son’s Basement

When Karen Johnson moved back to Atlanta after living in the Dominican Republic for 15 years, she wasn’t sure where to live, so she decided to add a 400-square-foot studio apartment in her son’s unfinished basement. “I added an open living space, a spacious bathroom, and a laundry room with plenty of storage. I had no furniture and only two pieces of artwork to start my project. It has been a perfect place to live and downsizing is so freeing,” she wrote. From the perfect dining banquette area, to the cool room divider, it’s full of great ideas for living in just one room.

Credit: Melissa Lee

11. This 350-Square-Foot Studio’s Renter-Friendly Remodel That Maximized Its Storage Potential

Lisa Lu has put a ton of work in this 350-square-foot rental studio apartment. “It might seem obvious, but my biggest challenge was the size of the space,” she admitted in her home’s tour. “On top of that, I have A LOT of things and had to find places for it all. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty savvy at maximizing the utility of my space.” More than just finding a ton of storage in unexpected spots, she also refreshed the kitchen and the bathroom beautifully. “Key updates to the kitchen: Covered the backsplash with peel and stick subway tile, covered the counters in marble contact paper, painted the cabinet doors, and added aged brass hardware to them. I also spent some time organizing the cabinets, which was deeply satisfying,” she wrote.

12. A Clothing Rack Doubles As Storage and a Space Divider in This Studio

The biggest challenge in Meghan Donovan’s 400-square-foot Brooklyn studio apartment wasn’t making it aesthetically pleasing. The French design enthusiast filled her home with pieces reminiscent of items in Paris apartments, like a gorgeous mantel and a gilded mirror. The largest hurdle, however, was making the space feel functional and spacious. Donovan accomplished this by using a clothing rack to separate her home’s sleeping and living areas. 

Explore more of Donovan’s French-inspired apartment in the full home tour.

Credit: Erin Derby

13. A Lofted Bed in This 350-Square-Foot Studio Doubles the Floor Space

When Christine Leahy moved into a 350-square-foot studio apartment in Brooklyn, she wasn’t alone designing her home. She collaborated with one of her best friends to map the furniture placement, create mood boards, and share DIY hacks. These brainstorms came in handy, especially when installing Leahy’s lofted bed with a working desk underneath. It adds so much storage and space to the apartment and looks gorgeous, too. 

See how the pair’s design visions came to life in the full home tour.

Credit: Erin Derby

14. Open Shelving in This Studio Is an Airy Room Divider That Doesn’t Block Light

One of the best parts of Gaby Neira and Chris Yera’s 450-square-foot apartment in New York City’s Upper West Side neighborhood is the wall-to-wall windows, which bathe the living room, sleeping area, and kitchen in natural light. So, an open shelf system was a clever pick to divide the spaces without compromising or blocking sunlight (a rarity in New York City apartments!). 

Visit the full home tour to see how the couple made their space super functional. 

Credit: Erin Derby

15. A Nook Became the Best Spot for a Private Bedroom in This Small Studio

Sometimes, the apartment itself will have features that make studio living easier. At least that’s what happened in Michal Kolaczkowski and Trevor Kuhn’s 300-square-foot studio apartment in New York City. Their floor plan includes a nook that’s separate from the home’s communal areas. The pair decided to put their bedroom there to maximize privacy and allow the public spaces to flow into one another. 

Step into the full home tour to see how the couple lives comfortably in their space. 

16. Functional Furniture Help This 525-Square-Foot Home Feel Bigger

Linda Cava has lived in a 525-square-foot Brooklyn home for over seven years. So, it’s safe to say she’s learned something about maximizing small-space living. One lesson she’s picked up along the way is using clever furniture that can be modified depending on her needs. “Sometimes I compromised and chose things because of their function, like the bedside cabinets, which offered storage, and the drop leaf table, which could expand when needed,” she shared at the time of the tour. 

Visit the full home tour to see how Cava reimagined her space throughout the years.

Credit: Erin Derby

17. An “Awkward” Floor Plan Was Reimagined After Moving Things Around

“My apartment is my sanctuary…,” Kayla Shannon said at the time of her home tour. The 375-square-foot studio apartment bursts with color, artwork, and clever furniture placement, making the small space feel large. However, it wasn’t always this way. When Shannon moved in, she admitted that the floor plan was “awkward.” But, after finding functional furniture (that doubles as storage areas) and moving things around a couple of times, she designed a home that flows. 

Check out the full home tour to see more of Shannon’s gorgeous space.  

Credit: Jason Rampe

18. Mapping Out Furniture Placement Helped This Couple Downsize to Studio Living

When Chandler and Lucy Benzinger were searching for a New York City apartment to move into, they were initially hesitant about studio living. Living with one person in a small space can be challenging, but two is a big hurdle. However, when the couple realized what amenities they could have in a specific building, they jumped at the opportunity to live in this Upper West Side studio. Even though they were still nervous about the limited square footage, the couple found something that helped ease their transition. “What really convinced us that we could make a studio work is by simply mapping out where everything would go and trusting that it would all work out together for our good,” they shared at the time of the tour. 

See how their vision came to life in the full home tour

Credit: Liisi Väli

19. A DIY Wall Separates Spaces in This 248-Square-Foot Studio

When Liisi Väli moved into her 248-square-foot apartment in Estonia, she appreciated the high ceilings because they made the small space feel bigger. However, she and her family found a way to make it feel even larger: build a temporary wall to separate the living room from her bedroom. 

Visit the full home tour to see how the temporary wall makes the apartment feel spacious. 

Credit: Erin Derby

20. A Space-Saving Coffee Table Helps Declutter This Studio

Successful studio apartment living requires innovative furniture that has more than one purpose. Take the coffee table in Rachael Harvey’s 275-square-foot studio apartment, for instance. The Amazon piece has a lift-able leaf to work, storage compartments inside the table, and ample space for dinner parties. “Even though I am in a studio, I have never let that be a barrier to the curation of my home and its function, such as hosting Shabbat dinners and gatherings with friends. I have been able to create separation in each area of living with my furniture and art pieces,” she shared at the time of the home tour. 

Explore more of the full home tour to see how Harvey made the space a reflection of herself.