One Room Living
Living Comfortably in One Room
This little studio feels right. I had a larger one for quite a few years because I had a cat, and kitty cats do like their space to frisk about. Some time after the death of that cat, I moved down to a smaller room -- a room that didn't feel so much smaller or, for that matter, feel like moving down, except in the most literal sense. (I now live one floor lower, but in the same building, in a mini-studio less than 200 square feet.)
It did take a bit of planning to make the one room living space neat and comfortable. Interestingly, a Google search on 'one room living' yielded a variety of articles, some of which were about downscaling to... living spaces that are larger than the one I came from. I have fewer square feet -- and I'm not afraid to write about it!
On this page, I will share my tips and resources for living in one room, as a well as a sneak little peek into my... well, it's not quite a castle, but it's no shack either. A mini-studio doesn't have to feel like a dorm room. Within four small walls, one can have a lot of choices. This is true not just for the 500 square foot loft, but for the efficiency as well. And it's true not just for the person who buys all new furniture, but for the one who makes do, at least partly with what they have.
Furniture That Does Double Duty
I have almost no counter space -- I use my dinette table in place of counter top when I prep food. That way my table gets a fair amount of usage every day, even if there are no visitors. It has become a multi-purpose furniture item. This wouldn't necessarily be feasible in a larger apartment because a single item couldn't be in the middle of everything. But it is accessible from the different living areas in my small space.
Most articles will tell you: It's good to let furniture and nooks do double-duty. Do give thought, though, to your own needs and habits when acquiring and arranging furniture. Some people let their table double as a desk, but that wouldn't work for me. I seldom work at a desk, preferring to perch or sprawl rather than sit in traditional fashion. I do have a desk, but it's for the purpose of storing things upon... and, in a pinch, under (since you won't actually find legs occupying the space).
As for the desk -- well, it's a good idea to have a hutch sitting atop it.
Letting Possessions Dictate Space
How to apply principles of one room living design
Just about all of have objects we wouldn't want to part with. In my case, one of those objects is a three-story Tudor dollhouse. At first glance, it would seem such an object would be hard to place in a smaller living space. And yet...
Stacking items can maximize space. The item of furniture the dollhouse sits atop takes up no more room than it would without the dollhouse sitting on it. The dollhouse actually serves more than one purpose. Living in one room, it's a good idea to section off small areas and also to hide clutter away from view.
In that corner is my workplace, my 'studio within a studio'. There are a lot of small items packed on the shelves and in the little drawer units. And yet you don't really notice them when you walk in the room. The Tudor hides far more than the furniture would alone, and, while I sure wouldn't want it toppling down, I know it's not heavy enough to do damage.
That Tudor wouldn't be everyone's choice of décor. Yet I think it has a more commanding -- and attractive -- presence than in the larger space. And that brings us to one of the more surprising principles of one room living design: A single large item can contribute to a spacious look where a number of smaller ones make it look cluttered. Scale is important -- but sometimes in ways that seem counterintuitive.
Some people would choose to put a TV/ entertainment center in that space. That could work, too. Much of the related paraphernalia, from videos and music to small equipment, can be tucked away behind the drawers of closed furniture. Just make sure the arrangement is sturdy.
A hidden corner -- yes, that seat is a cooler!
The Storage Seat
Hidden storage can be ideal for one room living -- but do analyze your space first to see what you need.
I thought, when I first moved into the apartment, that if I bought one small item of furniture, it would probably be a storage stool or small bench that doubled as seating in my 'studio within a studio' work space. At that time, I had a Styrofoam cooler I found in the 'free stuff' area of the laundry room downstairs that I cautiously tested and determined, yes, I was light enough to sit on.
This one is pretty cool, even cooler than the cooler...
This is an economical little furniture item -- a storage box that doubles as a seat. White can be a very good color for small spaces as it makes them look larger.
It looks like a safe one, too, for apartment dwellers with kitty cats.
Update: Added Furniture
I picked up two stackable cabinets that are combination kitchenette/ living room furniture -- they were actually free. One thing that went inside is the recycling bag; cleaning supplies take up half the space in one of the cabinets.
There's a decorative medicine cabinet sitting at an angle on top.
You can see just a bit of the dinette table there in the foreground.
A Peek at a Well Crafted Studio Apartment
It looks like this apartment dweller has not only found stylish hidden storage but managed to create an extra wall with his shelving unit. His wall mount TV is a space saver.
This decorator uses color and texture to unify elements across living spaces. There's a lot of stuff, but it doesn't look cluttered.
Over the Door Hooks
Some smaller storage items actually add to the cluttered look. Over-the-door hooks are something that actually make things look better! I have several sets. There is a rather elegant burnished metal one on the closet door -- on the front of the closet door. There are a couple small, plain ones on the back of that same door. Of course, hooks work just as well screwed to the wall, but they may not be appropriate for apartment dwellers.
Here I am featuring some nifty over-the-door hooks. They're not mine. There's not a lot of science to my selection process -- except for a couple things. I like to find things that aren't apt to be at the local drug store -- i.e. not plain old chrome.
And they shouldn't look like they belong in a utility room -- in a studio apartment, you can see everything. I think the hook sets with the bird shapes are rather elegant. They come in both black and white.
I also have a preference for things that have reasonable, or better, shipping prices. Sometimes I click on something that appears very cheap and then I see a shipping price that... well, I know it doesn't cost anywhere near that much to ship. Other times, the item is priced well out of the bargain basement range but comes with free shipping. I tend to have warmer feelings toward those sellers.
More Ideas for One Room Living - From Around the Web
Here are some more ideas, some written by experts.
- Design a One Room Living Space
Here are basic design principles for one room living.
- Tips for Living in Small Spaces
This writer is describing a house, not a studio. The house, however, is no larger than many studios. There are some good tips on scaling down and maximizing space.
- A Designer's Studio
Here's one room with a neutral, white-to-black color scheme and a shabby chic look. It has an airy, spacious appearance, even though there's rather a lot packed in. You can look at fifteen slides.
- How to Arrange a Teeny, Tiny Apartment
This is from the Tiny Houses blog. There are lots of ideas for thinking "outside the box". According to this author, you might not need kitchen cabinets -- you can walk across a small studio to get your tea bag out of the fancy furniture.
- How to Furnish a Studio Apartment
These tips are from the Dollar Stretcher. One of the themes is hiding your storage. There are also some ideas for recreating things that you see in catalogs.
- This Old Studio Apartment
This is by a person who's still living in a 'starter apartment' in their 40's -- and making the most of it.
- Neat and Beautiful Small Spaces
Here Apartment Therapy tours studios and one-bedroom apartments. You'll see some thumbnails. You can click on your favorites to read more.
- A Stylish 375 Foot Apartment
There are a lot of pictures here of a tiny, but downright sleek, apartment. This person didn't want to build a room around a TV, and he didn't. He has it hidden away.
- Airy 430 Square Foot Home
Swedish style! Though large by my standards, it does have a combined bedroom/ living room -- and thus some challenges to overcome.
Photographic Inspiration from Around the WebClick thumbnail to view full-size
Basil: A Dual Purpose Houseplant
Hidden Storage: Baskets
A small place looks less cluttered when clutter is tucked away in cupboards or in baskets on the shelf. I have quite a few baskets... but arguably not enough.
Here is a set of baskets that hang right on the wall... and look, hooks, too! This can be combined with a storage bench (one over, one under).
There's plenty of room! (Pull up a cooler.)