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How to Design a Multifunctional Studio Apartment

You have a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. So what if you can see all of them at the same time? “Studio apartments are about function over form. Everything must have more than one use, as there is no room to spare,” says interior designer Kera Cherrey, owner of Chesapeake Staging and Design in Maryland. Strategic decorating can make even the smallest studio apartment feel homey, but finding pieces that (literally) fit your needs takes time. Work up to the challenge using these three decorating stages.


Stage 1: Build Out the Basics

Start by getting the room’s essential elements in place.


The No. 1 rule when decorating a studio: Look for furnishings that do “double duty,” suggests Tiffani Stutzman, a Louisiana-based interior decorator. For example, a drop-leaf dining table makes a great, expandable desk; storage ottomans can be used for guest seating and as a coffee table (all while storing linens inside).


Next, consider the prominence of the bed. In a studio, your bed will be a focal point — not to mention act as the main seating and sleeping area. Choose bedding you love while considering your overall decor and color schemes. If you’ve got room, place a loveseat or compact couch opposite the foot of the bed to separate living and sleeping spaces. If you’re pressed for space, consider a sofa bed.


And don’t forget rugs and window treatments, Cherrey adds. “Layered rugs take up no space but create visual interest. To-the-ceiling window treatments add height and warmth without taking over the space.”


Stage 2: Add Embellishments

Layer in a little something extra.


In a studio, every belonging needs a place, and every piece needs a purpose — or a couple of them. Look for pieces that promote organization and multitasking, and save precious space.


“Put your bed on risers to accommodate under-the-bed storage boxes,” says Stutzman. “Decorative baskets or cubes above your kitchen and bath cabinets can hold extra cleaning supplies or holiday decorations. Freestanding cabinets should reach to the ceiling to maximize storage.”


Still need more storage? Install shelves over your bed rather than use a bulky nightstand. And a tall bookcase dividing your bed from the living area offers privacy and room for all your reading material.


Of course, not everything fits in a bin or basket: Give everything else a tidy home with hat and sweater hooks, key holders and mail shelves near the door.


Once you’ve covered storage, ensure you have enough workspace. In the kitchen, purchase a sink cover, which allows you to use the sink’s real estate as a chopping surface. In the seating area, consider a set of nesting tables: They offer two or three tables when you need them, but only take up the space of one.


Stage 3: Give It the Wow Factor

Load the studio with items that take it to the next level.


Even the smallest apartment can feel like a palace with pretty finishing touches. First, examine the walls: Because a studio apartment may not be forever, apply temporary style with removable wallpaper or decals. Or, hang oversize canvasses or photos to give the apartment a personal touch without taking up floor space. But your wall’s best friend may just be a mirror: A giant looking glass reflects light and makes a small studio feel much larger.


Then, use the double-duty mindset to accessorize: Think gorgeous wood cutting boards that double as kitchen art, and a fancy bar cart that holds booze on the bottom, and a lamp on top. “Use a beautiful vase to store pencils,” says Cherrey, “and an embossed box can add glam while hiding the mail.”

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