Living in a studio apartment is often a necessary reality for those living in a big city or renting on a budget. But storing all your stuff in a small space doesn’t have to get in the way of your style. There are many ways to make a studio layout work for you. It just involves a bit of intentionality and creativity! We spoke with seasoned studio dwellers about getting the most out of even the smallest apartments., and their tips can work in any small space. Bring on the nesting tables and under-bed storage containers!

Thinking in “zones”

To maximize her studio in New York, content creator Natalie Caez (@natymichele on Instagram) set up different zones to create the ambiance of a living room, work area, sleeping area, etc. “It helped me a lot to figure out what furniture I needed,” Caez said. “I also wanted to make sure that each piece served a real purpose other than just decorative.”

New York-based interior designer Nicole Arruda, who lives in a studio apartment herself, reiterated the importance of designated areas. “It will really help guide the layout and ensure that you’re intentionally using every inch of your small space,” she said. “Looking at your space in zones is easier to digest and helps you stay organized!”

Choose furniture that suits your needs

Not sure what types of furniture to choose? Photographer and blogger Jackie Clair— who lived in a studio apartment in New York City for many years before recently moving into a one-bedroom unit — suggested investing in furniture that can transform to suit your needs. “Items that expand and contract are functional and beautiful,” Clair explained. “Nesting tables, drop-leaf tables and secretaries are some classic examples. These items can be expanded when the need arises, such as during company visits, and then folded up for everyday use when you want things to look a little simpler.

Use lighting to distinguish different areas

Creator Kate DeWitt, who lives in a studio apartment in San Francisco, uses decorative lighting to distinguish different areas of her space. “For example, I have bedside lamps, a wall sconce by the sofa, a small lamp on the kitchen counter, etc.,” she explained. “I have found that this technique creates the illusion of flowing from room to room more than relying on a ceiling light.” So consider this your excuse to stock up on pretty lamps!

Use furniture for multiple purposes

Instead of trying to cram a bunch of different pieces of furniture into a small space, opt for pieces that can do double duty, Clair suggested. “A chest of drawers can be a TV cabinet, a desk can also be used as a bedside table, a storage chest or an ottoman can be used as a coffee table, a skirted console table can hide shoe storage, an office chair can be used as additional seating when moved to the living space, and a bar cart can serve as a side table,” she said.

Arruda uses this small-space trick in her own apartment. “I’ve used an entryway console that doubles as a nightstand, and I often use my dining table as an extra kitchen surface due to my very limited counter space,” she explained.

Use your space under the bed

Take advantage of the space under the bed to store sweaters, extra decorative pieces, linens, etc. “The under-bed storage has been a godsend for freeing up closet space,” Arruda said. “If you don’t have a storage bed, you can always buy pull-out drawers and make the most of that space.”

Do not mix too many materials

Last but not least, be intentional about the colors and patterns you bring into your studio. In a small space, a clean look is never a bad idea. “Visually, keep an eye out for mixing too much material into a smaller space,” Arruda said. “It can sometimes be a bit chaotic to the eye and make the apartment look smaller. Not all furniture needs to have a strong visual presence.

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