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Maximize Your Space: Studio Apartment Design Ideas for 500 Square Feet

We were pleased to be asked by Redfin to include our thoughts on minimalist tips in a tiny space.




Studio apartments are a cozy space with endless decorating possibilities that are renter-friendly. Whether you rent an apartment in Los Angeles, CA, or are living in Seattle, WA, and want to purchase a tiny home in the P.N.W, you want to make your 500-square-foot studio apartment feel like a destination. With any small space, a thoughtful layout, useful furniture, and special design tips will really give your space the livability and elevated design you’re looking for. That’s why we reached out to experts for their best tips on studio apartment design ideas for 500 square feet.

First, get declutter and organize

“First clear out the clutter that you don’t need and maximize storage. Keep things light and airy with lighter, soft wall paint colors, woods, and furniture when decorating. Add a large mirror within the room, and pull the multitasking space all together with a large rug for the entire area.” - Walking in Memphis in High Heels

Once you've decluttered your space you can better assess what items you will need to store. “When organizing any space, especially small spaces, go vertical. For instance, add a shoe shelf (or several) to the closet floor and stack labeled bins with lids on the top shelf. The back of a door is useful for hanging hooks for accessories or brooms or use the back of a door organizer to store anything from toiletries to spices to cleaning supplies.” - Organize with Leslie

Minimal interior will give you the space you need

For the ultimate minimalist interior you’ll need to rid of items that are unnecessary. “There are only two things we recommend you have. Things you need and things you truly love. Donate everything else.” - Minimal Lifestyles



Leave some room for empty spaces

“Embrace simplicity: instead of getting anxious about an empty corner, embrace the tranquility it can bring to your home.” - Tablebed

Ask a designer if your small space is permanent

“Something you can do is ask a designer to look at the space as a whole for you. They will be able to design custom storage that can be built and painted in situ, which will revolutionize the space for you. Custom built-ins are not as expensive as you might think, and they will make the most of every inch of space you have, you won’t regret it.” - Mabel Fox

Be creative when it comes to storage

Storage can also mean style

“To make a small space feel stylish and organized, try creating a gallery art wall that also incorporates storage. Use framed or canvas art pieces, and include shelving with decorative storage bins and baskets to store all of the odds and ends you might otherwise not have space for. Hang the shelves lower in your gallery wall and put books, remotes, or games for easier access, and have the art surrounding the shelves.” - nls design

Vertical storage will not fail you

“Wall shelves - one of the best ways to make the most of your limited space is to utilize your wall space. Using wall shelves creatively is a great way to free up space while styling them to create a playful and artistic look. From books to plants and home décor accessories, you no longer need to depend solely on accent or coffee tables as surface areas to display your favorite items.” - Decorisfy

Choose items that double as storage

“For studio apartments, it’s beneficial to find pieces that can serve more than one purpose. For example, a trunk that can act as a coffee table, additional seating, and coveted extra storage space. Also, utilize a neutral color scheme for clean lines that give the illusion of more open space.” - Misty Mountain Soy Candles

“The most beneficial tip for studio living is multifunctional furniture. Look for pieces that can be in multiple ways. One example is an ottoman, which doubles as storage for blankets or games.” - Carly Life & Style

Consider what you use daily and get creative when storing what you don’t

“When it comes to considering design and storage solutions for a small home, there are many ways to be unconventional, so think outside the box. A daybed instead of a sofa to double as a bonus guest space and use the drawers underneath to store your linens, saving precious closet space for bulkier hard to conceal items. Always keep what you use on a daily or weekly basis easy to access, but don’t be afraid to go vertical and take advantage of high cabinets to put sentimental or seasonal items away (who says you can’t store winter coats inside a carry on luggage in the hard-to-reach cabinet over your refrigerator).” - Ashley Dean Home Organizing

Selecting the right furniture for your 500-square-foot space

Using furniture to create different spaces in your studio apartment

“Utilize furniture that has multiple uses and storage capabilities. For example, a double-sided shelf unit can serve as a separation between the sleeping and living areas while providing storage and the opportunity to display books and decor. Or, a small side table with built-in USB ports/outlets can double as a nightstand, a small home office desk, or a side table for the living area. Ottomans with hidden storage and dining table but fold nicely into a console table when not in use. It’s important to choose pieces that are proportionally sized to the space and don’t overpower the room, while still providing the feel of a well-furnished and comfortable place to live in.” - Ellen Bliss Home

Consider your hideaway options for more wiggle room

"In a studio apartment, having a Murphy bed, futon, or other hideaway option for your bed can save you a ton of space. Especially with so many people working from home now, this can allow for more space to move around your apartment while you work.” - Anchored Tiny Homes

If you often have company consider a pullout couch

“When designing a small space, it’s important to look for multi-use items that can serve a variety of purposes while taking up minimal space. For example, perhaps a pull-out sofa that also has storage space built-in. This can serve as seating in a living room and transform into a guest bed while also storing the bedding inside.” - Happy Place Spaces

But, don’t be afraid to go big where it matters

“Don’t be afraid of using big pieces of furniture - especially the couch. It might seem counterintuitive, but using a nice-sized couch will make the space feel bigger, along with a well-sized rug. Be confident with those two things, and the rest will fall into place.” - Modern Property Design

Keep it simple for a cohesive space

“Keep it simple, give yourself breathing room by editing the space down to only those key elements you need. When purchasing pieces, think of one large statement piece (with legs) that will feel your space and draw your eyes, paired with those smaller essential furniture items. Furnishings that serve double duty are lifesavers in the studio apartment life.” - Willow & East

Studio apartment design ideas

Color palettes for a studio apartment

“When designing a small space, try sticking to limited color palettes such as light, airy, bold, and dramatic. Also, adding mirrors to your space can make your room feel much bigger.” - Moore Decor

“Use a light color palette not to overwhelm the space and induce a soothing transition while moving around in the apartment.” - M3 Studio

Consider renter-friendly wallpaper to create separate spaces

“Using wallpaper is an easy way to add personality, color, pattern, and texture while also defining spaces. For example, add wallpaper to the wall behind your headboard to instantly create a bedroom zone or use it in lieu of tile as a backsplash. Bonus, smaller spaces require less wallpaper and come in easy-removal options to make moving or changing things easier.” - CoCreative Interiors

“The walls in your small space are prime real estate for creating visual impact. Let loose with color and design. Install wallpaper with a big pattern across all the walls - this will help expand the space. If you’re feeling fearless, do the ceiling too. Peel-and-stick wallpaper is great for rentals”. - Remoov



Large statement pieces can make a difference

“Decorate a prominent wall with one large statement piece of art instead of several smaller pieces. It will give your eyes an interesting place to relax without feeling busy or cluttered, and the scale will help pull the whole room together.” - Lindsay Letters Co

“Think vertical. Wallpaper (removable in rentals), great art, and eye-catching draperies are fantastic ways to enhance a studio apartment. They allow you to infuse your space with style and don’t take up valuable real estate on the floor.” - Portland Design House

Did someone say plant wall? The perfect tip for the plant-obsessed

“Just because you live in a tiny space doesn’t mean you can’t have a plant obsession. Displaying plants vertically is the best way to create an indulgent forest-like feel in a small space while taking up minimal space. The interest, color, and texture make the small space feel more interesting and create a living artwork sure to give the wow factor.” - Shaye's Tiny Homes

Color schemes to increase natural light

“My first tip is to maximize and reflect as much natural light as one possibly can within the space. The use of neutral wall paints and lighter fabrics like linen window treatments will instantly brighten up the apartment and, in turn, make it appear larger.” - Flourished Minimalist

Mirrors are your friend

“Mirrors are magical little wonders for small spaces. The reflective surfaces can add depth and expansiveness when used correctly. Position them facing windows to maximize natural light reflection, making the room look larger. Another trick is to use an oversized mirror or a gallery wall of mirrors in different sizes and shapes to add the illusion of square footage into a tiny space.” - The Local Flea

“My tip for making a small living space feel bigger is to use mirrors in your décor. Mirrors reflect light and can make a space feel larger and brighter.” - Blogs By Aria

Get creative with your apartment lighting

“Portable lights - one of the best current trends in lighting is portable pieces. If you don't have the space to put lighting in different corners of the room, consider purchasing a portable LED light that you can move to the space you're currently utilizing. This will free up tablespace in different parts of the apartment.” - Teak New York

It’s not only what you see, but what you smell

“When people enter your front door, it's not just about what you see, but it’s also what you sense and smell. By including some beautifully scented and seasonal soy candles in your living spaces like dining rooms, offices, bedrooms, and bathrooms, it can help enhance feelings of comfort, relaxation, and freshness from the first second to the last.” - Tea House Candle

Pulling your studio apartment together

Once you’ve organized and decluttered you can start decorating your studio apartment. Designing your studio apartment with storage and multifunctional pieces will increase your square footage. Whether you enjoy a light simple look or a bold and dramatic look you should still utilize natural light and your walls. We spend the most time in our homes so really get creative to increase your livability while decorating to your taste.

Originally published by Redfin