Designing and arranging a small living room or studio apartment can be quite the challenge. How do you fit all the living room furniture you want and need without making the space feel overcrowded? How do you balance function and style? And where do you even start with open-concept spaces or studio apartments where one room bleeds right into the next?? The struggle is real.
But we find that some of the greatest design challenges can bring about some clever solutions and innovative interior design ideas! Case in point: we designed one small apartment living space three ways to show you all the possibilities. Dare we say they’re some of the best studio apartment layout ideas out there? Well, you can be the judge of that. Keep reading for our favorite design solves for small living rooms!
Layout #1 – The Zoned Studio
In this layout, we created three unique “zones” by making separate living, sleeping, and dining areas. So, while it’s all actually one large room, it feels like many! Placing the sofa at a right angle to the bed helps create a physical divide between the living and sleeping spaces. And having the back of the sofa to the dining room helps this area feel distinct. So, if you like the idea of more unique and distinct spaces within an open layout, a zoned approach is the right layout for you.
This space is filled with furniture that can pull double-duty:
Just because you have a small living room doesn’t mean you have to skimp on seating options. By opting for multifunctional living room furniture, we squeezed in a few extra seats. So, not only do you have the sofa and armchair, but the coffee table is an ottomoan, which someone can sit on, and the side table is actually a stool. Not to mention you can pull in the barstool from the desk and even use the bed for extra seating in a pinch!
Having an ottoman or pouf in place of a coffee table not only gives you an extra seat for guests, but it can be used as a footrest to help make a small sofa more comfortable, and it takes up less space than most coffee tables would. Simply add a tray on top when you do want to use it as a coffee table, to keep drinks and snacks stable!
However, the key to making this work is to opt for scaled down furniture. A loveseat is a perfect alternative to a sofa in a small space. But many furniture companies also make apartment-sized furniture where you can buy their well-known designs in a slightly smaller scale.
Distinct zones are great for hosting small gatherings:
Having a small living room or apartment doesn’t mean you can’t host gatherings. In fact, this layout is geared toward just that. The distinct zones of this apartment is a great arrangement for having small groups of friends over.
The sofa and TV are opposite one another, with the TV as a focal point—perfect for hosting a movie night or for solo viewing. But with the chair tucked in the corner, you also have a seating area that’s very conducive to conversation. At first glance, you might think having an office tucked into the living space interrupts the flow of this space. But a bar-height desk can actually double as a serving station for food during gatherings—another great example of furniture pulling double-duty in small living rooms! And the stool tucks underneath, which is a favorite space-saving hack when it comes to home office ideas for small spaces. A bar-height desk also helps break up heights in the room and adds some variance.
As for the rug, this is one case where going smaller in size actually works! It makes the living space feel distinct but not overcrowded. It also helps dampen noise—a must-have for apartments, especially when you’re having guests over!
The dark accent wall adds contrast and dimension:
Painting a dark accent wall behind the bed and TV adds contrast and dimension to the space. A dark wall actually helps the space feel larger by breaking up all the white and adding depth to the space. The result? Some very cozy vibes.
Using a dresser as a TV stand is a great way to sneak in more storage without adding more clutter or taking up more floor space! And a sconce above the nightstand frees up more surface space but still gives the same functionality of a table lamp.
The bookcase helps make use of vertical space in a small apartment:
In a small space, you want to make sure you’re making use of vertical wall space. This bookcase does just that, while also adding more storage space.
A cowhide rug, with it’s amorphous shape, is great for small or awkward spaces, like the small amount of floorspace between the bed and bookcase. It functions as a rug by adding some softness underfoot, but its organic shape means it doesn’t compete with the small square footage or draw attention to the small space.
Layout #2 – The Open Flow Studio
While this is the same studio apartment as the first layout, this is a totally different take on a small living room layout. This one is all about open flow. The layout makes the overall space feel much larger. And the openness eliminates any feelings of the space feeling cramped or cluttered. This is a perfect option for a single person who wants to make the most of their space and isn’t afraid of having their bed in the middle of their apartment!
This bed placement makes the whole apartment feel open and airy:
It’s your space and you can do what you want to! So why not have your bedroom in the open space in the middle of the apartment?? This layout has a much more open and airy vibe. Opting for two nightstands—even if there’s only one person living in this apartment—has a more formal feel and makes the sleeping area feel more thoughtfully designed. And, because of the wall it’s against, you can fit a larger bed here than you could in the first layout.
Placing a stool at the end of the bed is a great place to sit or lay out your clothes for the following day—and it can be moved into the living space if you need an extra seat!
Floating shelves are another great example of using vertical space. While the bed placement doesn’t allow for furniture to the side, hanging a floating shelf above eye level draws the eye upward, opening up the space. And, of course, it also provides a surface for some personal decor and storage!
Tucking the living space in the back of the apartment allows for a full-size sofa:
In this layout, the living space is tucked into the back nook of the apartment, where the bedroom was in the first design. This makes for a more cozy living area that truly feels like a space of its own. This layout also allowed us to use a larger sofa—a good thing to think about if you like to unwind with a TV show at night and want a full-size sofa rather than a loveseat or apartment-sized option. And we again used a dresser as the TV stand, which gives so much extra storage in a small space!
You’ll notice that there’s no clutter or unnecessary living room furniture here—only the essential pieces. In a small living room, this is an absolute necessity! You have to make every piece count—and bonus points if they have a small footprint or airy design! The long, tapered legs of the side table and the open-base chair add function without adding clutter, making them great pieces for small living rooms.
The simple layout creates a lot of flexibility for how you can use the living space:
As you can see, this living room is simple but stylish. The combination of white walls and a white sofa give this space a light feeling and don’t add visual clutter. But the addition of the yellow blanket ladder adds a stylish, eclectic touch to the set-up—and utilizes vertical space for blanket storage!
In a space like this, we’d recommend skipping a big coffee table to give the space more flexibility—which is why we went with this stool as a coffee table instead, which can also double as a footrest or an extra seat. It’s also easily moveable, which means you can use the open space between the sofa and dresser for a workout area or for playing games with friends. This gives a small living room layout like this a lot of functionality and flexibility—something you don’t typically find in a studio apartment, which can easily feel cramped and claustrophobic.
Stylish stools and open shelving make the dining area feel considered:
The kitchen and dining area, while not huge, has room enough for two stools to pull up to the island and create an eat-up dining space. Since there’s a large surface area, the counter can also be used for food prep or as a home office workspace!
The floating shelves once again add storage space on a wall that would otherwise go unused—and they also help this space feel much more intentional and considered. And plants make the space feel alive and cheery!
Layout #3 – The Combo Space
This layout option combines the best elements of the first two layouts, giving you one more creative solution for small living room arrangements! This is a great option if you don’t have a TV, as you’re able to use the space in a much more creative way, without the constraints of having to mount a TV on the wall or make sure the sofa is placed opposite the TV.
This bedroom celebrates multifunctional and flexible designs:
When it comes to bed designs that are perfect for small spaces, a spindle bed frame is a stylish and smart option. The space between the spindles creates visual airiness that helps the room feel more open. And opting for a spindle bed with built-in nightstands is a major space-saver and helps the look feel sleek and clean!
Another space-saver in this design is the use of a wall-mounted sconce—a Modsy must-have for small apartments. It adds lighting functionality without taking up floor space, which we love. And it also swivels, which makes this a very flexible lighting option! We recommend looking for plug-in sconces, especially if you’re a renter, as it doesn’t require you to tear up your walls to hardwire the lighting!
The sofa placement makes the whole apartment feel more open and airy:
Having the sofa face the large windows at the back of the apartment—and without any furniture separating the living and sleeping areas—makes this small living space feel very open and airy. Having a more open layout that’s not centered around a TV makes this a great layout for hosting guests—and there’s even space for an air mattress if someone wants to crash overnight! This bench adds extra seating for conversational hangouts, but it can also be pulled in and used as a coffee table for a game night.
Hanging a mirror behind the sofa adds a decorative touch but also works as a full-length mirror for getting ready. And mirrors are also a great small space hack to make your space feel larger. And, once again, doubling your dresser as a credenza in your living space not only gives more structure to your living area, but it gives you the storage you need while not making your bedroom area feel cramped!
Ready to tackle your small living space design?