What Is an Alcove Studio and Why Would I Want One?

published Mar 11, 2021
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In most cities, living space comes at a premium. If you want your own place but can’t exactly afford a one-bedroom, you’re likely to downsize to something smaller. While Apartment Therapy is no stranger to studio life, there’s an alternative to the typical tiny studio you might want to consider: the alcove studio.

What exactly is an alcove apartment?

Alcove apartments are studios with a little extra. There’s typically a section carved out of the main room for a bed, whether it’s separated by a wall divider or tucked into a nook off to the side, creating an L shape for the apartment. These are sometimes also referred to as convertible apartments, says Linda Kozloski, creative design director at Lendlease, a property construction and development company.

“This creates a dedicated sleeping nook in a lower-traffic area of the home, so there’s more privacy,” she says.

Even though there’s a separation between the bed and the rest of the space, it still can’t be considered a one-bedroom, “because [the sleeping area] does not have a window and a closet,” says Becki Danchik, a broker at Warburg Realty. “In pre-war buildings, the alcove area is sometimes referred to as a ‘dressing room,’ depending on its location, and whether or not it is next to the bathroom.”

Credit: Courtesy of The Cooper
An alcove studio in Chicago

How is an alcove studio different from a regular studio or efficiency unit?

All three are basically just a single room with a bathroom; the only real difference is the separation of the sleeping area in the alcove apartment. This can make your apartment feel fundamentally different from a studio.

“With the sleeping area tucked away, the bed is not the first thing guests see when they walk into the unit,” Kozloski says. “Some floor plans create further separation through sliding doors or partitions that, when closed, make it feel more like a one-bedroom apartment.”

Some alcove apartments even have clearer distinction for different parts of the space, so it’s more than just one big box, says Lior Rachmany, CEO and founder of Dumbo Moving and Storage.

Credit: Courtesy of The Porte
An alcove studio in Chicago

Why would I want to live in an alcove studio?

Rachmany and Kozloski both agree the biggest perk of an alcove studio is the extra privacy you get. You have your own section for the bedroom, rather than the bed being right out there in the open for everyone to see. It’s also bigger than a studio (but smaller than a one-bedroom) and cheaper than a one-bedroom (but more expensive than a studio).

What are the drawbacks of an alcove studio?

If you’re fine with having limited privacy from guests in your apartment overall, then there aren’t too many drawbacks to an alcove studio. Sunlight could be a problem, though, depending on where the alcove is located.

“It can prevent direct access to sunlight while in bed,” Kozloski says. “This might be great for weekends when you want to sleep in, but some see it as a negative because they want as much natural light as possible.”

And sometimes, the bathroom can be an issue.

“For some people, the drawback of an alcove is that the layout sometimes requires you to walk through the alcove in order to get to the bathroom,” Danchik says. “For someone who has guests, they may not like people walking through their ‘bedroom’ to get to the bathroom.”