Shabby Chic Studio Apartment
Make Your Efficiency into a Cottage Style Nook
If you're like me, and you live in a small space -- but you're too old for the dorm look -- you have some choices. Will you try to make your 200 square feet look bigger, or will you turn them into a cozy little nook? Will you bring home some boxy modern furniture and try to conceal every little thing, or will you build a style around your stuff?
Part of making the room look like something other than a dorm is concealing clutter. But that doesn't mean that everything has to be hidden away in sleek cabinets. The look I opted is shabby chic, which is a type of cottage style décor, one that makes use of thrift store items and faux paint finishes. The style fits my lifestyle, my tastes... and my stuff.
Several generations of my family have quilted, so I have quilts by my aunt and great-aunt in the room. I also like refurbishing doll houses and other items -- things that wouldn't fit in well with that ultra-modern loft look. I like finding things at the thrift store -- or downstairs in the laundry room of my apartment. (The laundry room has a give-away area that sometimes turns into a veritable rummage sale at the end of the month when tenants are moving out.)
In this picture, you see a distressed ivory shadow box that I made from a plain wood frame; it's 'posing' with a few other found treasures on the dinette table (in the center of the room). I'll show off some some more tidbits from my living space down below; it is a work in progress, and has centerpieces and also some clutter. I'll also share some resources and video from around the web. Most of the pictures you'll see featured here are my own; others are creative commons pictures that struck my fancy.
Not Quite Matching
In shabby chic style, things don't quite match, but they often come close to matching. In other words (as the saying goes) you might not notice from a running horse. The color scheme can help items look coordinated. The dominant color is in shabby chic is antique ivory, but you'll see a variety of muted colors. These soft color palettes work well for a small spaces.
Part of getting things to mix and match is undertone. Lighter colors may have a white undertone (true pastels) or they may have a cream, beige, or gray undertone. I prefer muted colors and heathers over true pastels. Here you see the night table.The seashell lamp is from my father's house; the lamp doesn't work, but the piece probably dates back to the first half of the twentieth century. Next to the nightstand is a guitar and a boom box; they are ensconced behind a screen that has the same distressed ivory as the shadow box. (The seashell ornamentation is made from tablecloth weights, attached with epoxy and given an antique finish.)
A Gift Bag Doubles as Storage
300 Square Foot Apartment With French Country Inspiration
Here is a low budget 300 square foot living space in a 100 year old building.
A Cottage Style Guest House
There are a lot of shabby items in this living space, but the overall look is clean and elegant. This guest house is much larger than my studio, but it's not necessarily larger than a large studio apartment. If you have one of those big studios with the walk in closet that doubles as a small bedroom, then this is a great model. (There are some things you wouldn't do in a place that you just rent -- but there's a lot here you could do.)
Another Take on Shabby Chic
This is a different take on the cottage style: a bit more fuss and memorabilia. The little house featured here is much larger than a studio, but there are some elements that would work well in a smaller space. I like the way vines and flowers are used as décor. I think a mini-studio or efficiency would make a cozy little retreat decked out in fake ivy. (I have a bit of ivy draped here and there in my apartment, and would like to get some more. The ivy tends to create a theme hold things together)
Shabby Chic Drapes to Hide Your Daybed
White drapes and white slipcovers... a classic shabby chic look. You can hand drapes around your daybed. These drapes are a bit sheer and won't totally hide your bed, but they can give it more of a simplified, streamlined look.
Shabby Chic: a World of Variety
Is More Less --or Is it More?
(When You're Going Small)
This picture, found in Flickr Creative Commons, said "stuff in my studio". I'm not sure she meant studio apartment, but I can see it working in that setting. Doesn't that hanging cherry blossom arrangement say cozy (as opposed to cluttered?) I am thinking of the little fake cherry tree my parents had when I was a teenager. It's not normally the sort of thing would imagine in a studio apartment... but...
I think part of the key is that things need to hang together (in theme or general appearance). Here the colors contribute to a cozy, coordinated look.
It's also good if the items are functional -- that bottles and containers aren't just décor, but are actually holding something. I'm not sure if these are -- but they easily could be.
Elegant Storage Bench
There are lots of storage benches out there, but some are more elegant in appearance than others. Here's a fancy one with arm rests and a skirt. The reviewer notes that there are two storage areas: the seat itself and the area under the skirt. I see it as a practical option for a very tiny studio. I envision the longer legged storage benches in a studio that's a tad larger.
Appearance-wise, it reminds me a bit of a sofa. Of course it's not one: a fact that one would become very aware of when lounging about! It may be just about as close as a person could comfortably come to having the sofa look, though, in a studio apartment as petite as mine. (Petite seats for petite places.)
This storage bench comes in several colors including ivory, rose, and brown. At a little over $200, it's a more expensive piece than some, but I like how it serves three different functions.
A Focal Point
Small spaces benefit from large décor. In a modern room, it might be a big screen TV or a large piece of framed art. In a shabby chic apartment, it could be a large quilt hanging on the wall.
In my mini-studio, it's the dollhouse. It was bought as a shell at the thrift store (sans windows and other details that are normally included in kits). Much has been done to it, but it's still missing some things -- yup, it's a bit shabby, but not frou frou. The exterior faces outward, so it's not a cluttered look. It takes up no floor space and is multipurpose, serving also to section the room. Behind the dollhouse is an area for crafting and purposeful clutter: a studio within a studio.
More Resources: Shabby Chic Websites and Resources - Especially for small living spaces
- Small shabby chic bedrooms
Tiny bedrooms done in shabby chic and cottage style. The décor ranges from clean/ simple to busy.
- Large shabby chic studio
This is from a movie. They've got the look down; you see several living areas, and how they change over time.
- A real life shabby chic studio
A 450 foot studio apartment with a walk-in closet for a bedroom -- done up in shabby chic style.
- Rachel Ashwell's blog
Rachel ashwell may not have invented the look, but she's done a lot to popularize it.
- Boat Shed Chic
This writer discusses living in one room; she doesn't use the word "shabby chic" -- but that's the style. (Beautiful photos.)
- The Fisherman's Cottage
This Blogspot blog features a small house in shabby chic/ cottage style.
- The Shabby Nest
One of the features here is Frugal Friday, where bloggers from all over show off their creations.
- The Jewel Box Home
Life in a 350 square foot cottage.
- Vintage Studio
Take a tour of this area 450 square foot space. Via Apartment Therapy.
Closed Storage: Cabinets or Baskets?
Learning (slowly) about scale and design
I don't have a hutch; I'm using a repainted shelving unit instead. Baskets aren't quite as clean and neat as closed wooden cabinets -- and my 'after' picture may well be someone else's 'before'. There is a little more mismatch here than I would choose (just a little!) The basket at the bottom was designed as a wall shelf and doesn't fit very well. My shelves may not be ready for the cover of "Shabby House Beautiful", but this display does look nicer than having random small objects on the shelves. Too many little objects makes a space look small and cluttered unless they are put together in some kind of pattern or design.
Scale and proportion in large scale space: this is something I've learned slowly. I've always had good aesthetic sense when it comes to small items. I can refinish a small object like a picture frame or a dollhouse and it will have the intended look. But arranging a full-size room... that's a slightly different skill. I can look at a picture of my living space and see clutter, but up until I take the picture, chances are good I haven't noticed.
I tend to zoom in on details and miss the whole. But I can learn the elements of design by looking at pictures and reading.