The Economic Apartment

Economizing is all we hear about these days: money, space, or both. Ugh. Time for some can-do attitude! My favorite tip this week is for folks learning to live large in a studio apartment. No - don't click away. It CAN be done. Behold...

Here are a few marvelous "little" spaces that are big on style. First, Ron Marvin's studio apartment is breathtakingly simple. Choosing three colors, black and white with yellow accents, prevents visual clutter. The acrylic coffee table, which would normally block a large section of the floor, blends into the rug. Another hint: don't avoid pattern! In the same palette as the rest of the room, it keeps the eye moving. For another great example of a black and white studio apartment, click here.
This picture from gorgeous blog, La Dolce Vita.

Another beautiful studio apartment, courtesy of the late, great, Domino Magazine. Notice how white is a continuing theme. Why? It's just like you learned in your first visit to the dressing room: white makes things look bigger! And a high gloss white refracts light around a space. Another plus? Renters who choose white walls need not repaint. This apartment, like the one above, takes full advantage of natural light and a simple color scheme. And notice how mobile all the smaller pieces of furniture are. If you feel a little claustrophobic, pack 'em away!

Now, as anyone who has lived in a studio knows, the biggest question is: what do I do with the bed? Well, there's the traditional screen (made more interesting here with pattern). Don't be discouraged if you find only blah screens - decoupage my friends! Find a gorgeous paper and glue your way to a more stylish room. For how-to, click here.

Next up, the bookshelf conceal. This is my favorite, for a variety of reasons. 1) It doesn't look like you're trying to hide a bed somewhere. 2) It doesn't cut off light from the "bedroom" section of the apartment. 3) It has so many decorative possibilities!! Aside from placing eye-catching items on the bookcase, you can add a curtain for increased privacy when visitors come. And, you can treat the space a bit like a wall - stack books artfully, or hang pictures or mirrors. (For great hooks that you can attach to a bookcase without damage, I recommend Command hooks.) Can you tell there's a bedroom back there? Believe it!

Third and final option: give up and sleep on a daybed or divan. This is for hard-core fashionistas only! Not recommended if you have back troubles. But this look will convince your guests that the closet door really is a passageway to an entirely different room.

Now for the how-to. Here are my top four (inexpensive) suggestions for studio transformation, based on the designs above.

1) The Screen. These options from are $188, and come in a variety of great colors. My personal favorite is the Hermes orange! At five panels, they can cover a sizable space and are sturdy enough to hang pictures on, if you're so inclined.

2) The Daybed. This example from West Elm, called "overlapping squares," has been displayed in a number of magazines recently. Available in white and brown.

3) Bookshelves. I am such a fan of these Expedit bookcases from IKEA. I've had a set in white for years, and they've survived four moves and numerous other destructive attempts. They still look great - and just as good as models four or five times their cost. The best part? This wall-size unit is only $199. My favorite option, however, is the add-on desk. It's sleek and modern, and in a tight space? It's a desk AND a dining room table. All yours for only $50.

Naturally, storage is always a big problem in little spaces, so add some of these shelf inserts for $20. They look good from both sides, they're perfect in a room divider, and the little door opens to reveal whatever you've hidden. Even BETTER? Upgrade the hardware with some gorgeous knobs from Anthropologie, priced between $8 and $14. Remember: you have no problem buying cheap. You just don't want it to LOOK that way!

4) Acrylic. Pair some Philip Starke chairs with the desk/table above, and live spaciously ever after. Two for $258.99 at For nesting tables that you can easily move around a space, try these from Target: three for $179.

Picture 1, La Dolce Vita. Pic 2 -3, Pic 4, Elle Decor. Pic 5, Pic 6, Pic 7, West Elm. Pic 8 -9, Ikea. Pic 10, Pic 11,


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