Studio Apartment Living: A 5-Point Survival Guide


There are already a lot of great resources for small-space and apartment living here on Wise Bread. But I'd like to take a moment to tackle the unique challenges of that cost-effective, and often-mocked living space, the humble studio apartment. Boasting a tiny number of square feet and housing pretty much everything in just four walls (including, occasionally, the bathroom), the studio apartment can be both cozy and claustrophobia-inducing. (See also: 7 Ways to Make the Most of a Tiny Kitchen)

1. Find Storage Everywhere

Myscha's article on small-space living includes lots of great ways to find storage space, but finding storage can be even more challenging when your small space is just one room. Thus I'd like to add another storage option to Myscha's list that I utilized while living in my very first studio — the door. Unless you live in a very...erhm, special apartment (see the concept of bathroom-in-room, above), you should at the very least have one door. Hooks can be installed on doors to hang coats, towels, or bathrobes. My favorite door storage method, however, is the door-mounted shoe rack, because those little shoe pockets can hold so many useful things. In one tiny apartment I lived in, the bathroom door was right next to the kitchen area, and I used a door-mounted shoe rack to store all of my spices, utensils, and foods like onions, garlic, and potatoes.

2. Don't Sacrifice Your Favorite Comforts

Enjoying the low cost of living in a small apartment isn't worth it if you have to sacrifice the basic things that make you happy. If you're most comfortable sleeping on a big bed, figure out how you can make it fit with the space or find another apartment. Cramming yourself onto a twin mattress every night won't be worth it if you wake up cranky every morning. Similarly, you probably won't be happy with a hot plate and half-sink if you love spending weekends baking cookies and bread.

3. Entertain Entertaining

Living in a studio can be very lonely if you feel like you can never invite friends over. You won't be able to throw wild dance parties in your studio no matter how hard you try (unless we have very different definitions of a "wild dance party"), but it is possible to arrange many studio apartments so you can comfortably watch a movie with a friend or invite a special someone over for dinner. Keep this in mind when laying out your space and picking out furniture.

4. Keep It Clean

How messy an apartment feels increases quickly when there's only one room to keep that mess in. Keep it straightened up, and don't underestimate the value of items like a decent-looking hamper.

5. Get Out. Leave. Go.

I do very well with spending a lot of time alone (you kind of have to when you work from home), but even I start to go stir crazy if I spend too long in the same small room. Get out and enjoy the world around you, whether you're going for a walk or run, meeting up with a friend, reading at the library, or doing any of a host of other free or cheap activities outside of the studio.

Do you have any tricks for dealing with studio living?

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Andrea Karim's picture

I have to share this awesome condo that I saw for sale online the other day:

I think the tip in this case is, "Be as innovative as you can in terms of finding space - even though some innovation is pricey up front, it'll save you in housing costs in the long run."

Kentin Waits's picture

Great article -- a good friend of mine who had a small space in Brooklyn, hung antique folding chairs on his wall to store them conveniently and create functional art. Getting creative and looking at our objects in a different light is essential.

Guest's picture

Before I got married I was living in a Studio apartment. What I found that really worked well is actually to establish some sort of actual divider like feelings between areas. Like I had my bed in the back of the apartment, then I separated the "bedroom" from the TV are by setting up a sofa to divide the room in half. It worked well when I had visitors.

Guest's picture

when I lived in a small studio apartment I had someone make me a divider out of old doors, so when you walked in the front door, the doors sectioned off my bedroom area. I also hung a curtain around the queen bed to make a extra room inside a room. i also used the space the door dividers gave me as a small office area. So i ended up having an office area, bedroom, and living-room and kitchen all in one small studio apartment.

Guest's picture
Guest s e chan

Look up look up. !! I bought simple shelf brackets and put a shelves at several levels near the top of my room. all kinds of things can be stored there and can be decorative if you store stuff in colorful boxes. I alternate to make a collage of things dried flowers in a vase, books, boxes.

Also I do not use arm chair tables I use a big box filled with my extra linens cover it with one of those round decortive table covers and sit my lamp on it.

Desk .. on one wall I bought a folding table,6 foot long store my dirty laundry in baskets under it and some things i only use occasionaly covered the table with a sheet so it hangs to the floor on top.. my computer, tv, stereo, sewingmachine ect. so I got extra storage and somewhere to sit and write , eat, etc.

Guest's picture

My apartment is technically a "junior one bedroom" but it feels like a studio apartment a lot of the time. Stacking shelves help, and I agree with the other comments that recommend shelf brackets. If you own a bike, they're ESPECIALLY space saving.