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33 Ingenious Studio Apartment Ideas That Make 400 Square Feet Feel Like a Palace

Yes, really.

By Hadley Mendelsohn and Medgina Saint-Elien
preview for 4 Need-to-Know Tips for Decorating a Small Space

Contrary to popular belief, you can live big in small spaces. Figuring out how to decorate a studio apartment is all about balancing its particular floor plan (be it an open loft apartment or an alcove studio) with your work/life wants and storage needs. Yes, you can transform one small room into a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and office simply by rethinking how you lay out and decorate your home. Smart planning, clever storage, and scaled-down furniture can give you more room to relax.

Studio apartments do have their challenges, but they all can be conquered. The right studio apartment decor ensures your home feels more like a chic pied-a-terre than a college dorm room. Worried about privacy? Bring in a stylish room divider. Not sure if you can squeeze a work-from-home station into your small but mighty dream space? A foldable floating desk fits practically anywhere—and is much better for your back than sitting on your bed or sofa. The right paint color or piece of art can highlight architectural and design features you want to show off—and help hide pain points (especially in a rental). All these improvements can add value to your home too.

We've gathered the inspiration you need to decorate your studio apartment from interior designers who've mastered the art of thinking big and living large. Your days of feeling frustrated and unable to relax in your home are over. These 33 genius studio apartment decor ideas prove your place can look and feel like a mansion.


Hang "Floating" Art

studio apartment with traditional design
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Interior designer Max Sinsteden made his sleep zone feel separate from the rest of the studio apartment by hanging a floor-to-ceiling curtain and then suspending a "floating" painting to distinguish it even more. "I hate seeing a bed from the front door, so I added a curtain to partition that space. When you close it, you honestly feel like you're in a Parisian hotel," he tells House Beautiful. The living room he carved out is ideal for hanging out with friends.


Think Big

apartment designed by keith carroll
Nick Parisse

If you love shopping for antiques and can't bear the thought of hiding your collectibles—don't! This 240-square-foot, late 19th-century classic Manhattan walk-up apartment designed by Keith Carroll showcases the charm of filling a space even when you're low on room. “I always tell my clients with a small space to think big,” Carroll says. “I did this with a large armoire, antique mirror, and console table—large pieces visually enlarge a small space.”


Skip the Sectional

white living room designed by leanne ford
Leanne Ford Interiors

Think of fun ways to bring in additional seating that doesn't take up square footage. This eclectic and organic space designed by Leanne Ford Interiors is a lifesaver for anyone who loves to host guests but doesn't know where to put them. Two small stools work as coffee tables, cushions piled on top of a ledge serve as a makeshift softa, and a swing hangs from the low ceiling.

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Elevate Your Bed

how to decorate studio apartment
Nicolas Sargent

Take your dreams to new heights with a swinging daybed like the one in this room designed by Tiffany Brooks for the Kips Bay Palm Beach showhouse. It saves floor space and adds a playful element to your space.


Create a Backdrop

how to decorate studio apartment
Joshua McHugh

Give your studio a grand feel with high-impact textiles on the wall and floor. This mural creates a sense of expansiveness. Pared down furnishings, like the chaise and simple side table in this space designed by Raji RM, keep the focus where it belongs.


Add a Barn Door

how to decorate studio apartment
Mylene Fernandes

Designer Shari Francis separated a bedroom alcove from an adjoining living room with a sliding barn door. It adds some privacy and helps to define dedicated spaces for different activities.

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Install a Glass Partition

studio apartment with glass wall
Fantastic Frank

Or if only one part of the room is windowed (and privacy isn't an issue), try a glass-paneled screen—it adds just enough visual separation to a space while still allowing plenty of light to flow through.


Use a Room Divider

orange bedroom with room divider
Thomas Loof

When you want to break up an open loft or studio apartment but don't want to—or can't—install permanent dividers, use a folding screen to create the illusion of privacy and separateness. Designer Maureen Footer also accentuates the vertical space in this apartment with a super-tall bed cornice. "There's no room to be timid" in a small space, she says.


Make a Mini Mud Room

small entryway ideas
Tamsin Johnson Interiors

Even in a studio, there should be a section carved out for your grand entrance. This foyer designed Tamsin Johnson proves that you just need a corner, not a designated foyer. All it takes is a chic mirror, accent chair, umbrella holder, and a couple of hooks. If you don't have room for any of that, a mirror and a pedestal with a small catch-all for keys and mail will do.

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Be Resourceful

minimalist studio apartment
Fantastic Frank

Use a partial room divider to have some privacy when changing, and opt for a slim sofa for extra seating when guests come over.


Take Advantage of Architectural Quirks

window nook
Shade Degges

Every single inch counts, so be sure to take full advantage of your studio apartment's architecture. That radiator by your window? Invest in a pretty radiator cover and customize a cushion so you can use it as a window nook to read and relax in. (And you'll be able to forgo the bulky couch that'll take up half the studio!) Pile on the pillows and add a pendant light for tasks, as Jae Joo did here.


Customize a Work Space

william brockschmidt, brockschmidt  coleman

A custom fold-out desk is the perfect solution as far as tiny work-from-home spaces go. Just close it up and tuck it away when you need to convert your home office back into the living room, dining room, or bedroom. This one designed by Brockschmidt & Coleman proves that any corner can look and feel elevated, no matter the size.

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Use One Paint Color

how to decorate a studio apartment
PHOTO: Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Leanne Ford Interiors

So you need to transform a big white box into something suitable to live in? Here's your blueprint, brought to you by Leanne Ford Interiors. Different flooring in the sitting area reinforces the idea that the space has "rooms." If you can't redo your floors, no problem. Just add an area rug.


Hide Your Bed

studio apartment with hidden bed
Fantastic Frank

If your studio apartment is too tiny to fit both a little sitting area and a bed, consider a DIY trundle bed or a solid platform with a retractable bed under it. In this space, the wooden platform makes room for a sofa so there's somewhere to sit instead of the bed (this way, it doesn't have to feel like a bedroom if you want to have guests over). It's kind of like a Murphy bed but easier to create yourself.


Choose Curtains Over Doors

small studio apartment design 
PHOTO: Max Kim Bee; DESIGN: Leanne Ford Interiors

Installing a sliding door would take up precious space, so in its place, hang a curtain to create privacy around the bed. A more diaphanous fabric means light can still stream through and doesn't weigh down the room, like in this attic by Leanne Ford.

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Think in Terms of Zones

bedroom with orange end bench and tv
Reath Design

A bench at the end of the bed signals a conversation area, keeping your sleeping area separate from the hangout zone. Reath Design used a small side table in lieu of a coffee table to save space.


Use Smart Storage

Tiny apartment design
Fantastic Frank

Open shelving is also a great way to use your vertical space. And curtains hung from the ceiling will give your bedroom area an extra boost of privacy.


Make It Your Happy Place

studio apartment ideas
Krsnaa Mehta

Designer Krsnaa Mehta painted each wall in his apartment a bold jewel tone, hung meaningful artwork, and blended tons of fun prints. The actual furniture pieces, though bold in design, feature sleeker profiles so they don't take up too much physical space.

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Go Dark

entryway with bookshelves and dark walls

Though light walls tend to be the go-to for opening and brightening up smaller living quarters, a dark paint job can actually do wonders. Here, photographer Bjorn Wallander used a deep chocolate brown hue to make the studio feel cozy, intimate, and warm.


Float Your Furniture

small studio
Bjorn Wallander

It might not be your initial instinct, but floating furniture instead of shoving it against the wall can make a space feel bigger. For example, placing a desk at the end of the bed signifies a transition to a new activity zone, and you won't have to stare at a wall while you work.

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david frazier nyc apartment living room with limited space in this new york city apartment, designer david frazier divided the living room into two distinct zones lounging and eating paint simply white, benjamin moore dining table eero saarinen, knoll chairs lee industries slipper vintage french rattan vintage kaare klint safari pendant isamu noguchi bookcase scott antique markets ram’s head vintage, high point market
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