Studio apartments are small one-room homes that still offer the luxury of privacy and standard amenities. Studios are popular options in dense cities, such as San Franciso or New York, because they often offer cheaper solutions to downtown living. These types of apartments come in a range of styles, sizes, and configurations that can influence the cost and convenience of living in one. So whether you’re a first-time renter, moving to a city with a high cost of living, or possibly just prefer a minimal living space – a studio apartment may be an excellent choice for you.
But what exactly is (and isn’t) a studio apartment? And what makes a studio a good choice for some but not others? Let’s break down what studio apartments are, along with the pros and cons, to help you decide if this style of home is right for you.
What constitutes a studio apartment?
A studio apartment is a small apartment that consists of one large room that serves as a kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedroom. The only room with a wall and a door is the bathroom. The size of a studio apartment tends to be between 400 and 700 square feet but can sometimes be much larger, especially when they exist in a converted space.
Studios don’t have dividers between rooms, though sometimes kitchen areas have a partial wall. If you want the feeling of separate rooms, you’ll need to get creative with furniture placement, while still leaving some open space to live comfortably..
Common studio apartment layouts, square footage, etc.
Studio apartments come in many shapes and sizes. Most studios are less than 600 square feet but can be larger. During the housing shortage in the 1970s, for example, many factories and other commercial buildings were converted into apartments. This gave rise to the phenomenally popular loft apartment, which often exceeds 1000 square feet of space. A loft can be a studio apartment, but they can also have rooms separated by walls and doors.
The line layout is probably the most common studio floor plan and is arranged in a long rectangle. The entry could be in the middle of the long wall or at one end of the apartment. The interior has no natural delineations, so you’ll need to arrange furniture to create “rooms” within your space. Similarly, a square or box-shaped apartment is also common and doesn’t offer clearly defined spaces.
The L-shaped studio is also a common layout. In it, the floor plan creates an “L” by moving galley-style through the main living areas (kitchen, dining area, living room) and curves around into a bedroom area. This is an ideal shape for people looking for greater distinction between the bedroom and other areas of the home. Other shapes, like the u-shape and h-shape, are less common in studio apartments but can be found in some areas.
There’s also the alcove studio, which is a studio apartment that has an alcove or nook space that can be used as a sleeping area or office. The alcove won’t have a door and may have a window or closet. Even so, the alcove studio has a much different feel to it than other studio apartment layouts.
Pros and cons: Is it worth it to live in a studio apartment?
Whether or not a studio is worth it will depend on how you use your space and what you need most from your apartment. Consider the advantages and disadvantages outlined below.
Pros of living in a studio apartment
- More affordable: Most of the time, rent for studio apartments are less expensive than for one-bedroom apartments in the same area. But there’s more to affordability than rent alone. Due to their small size, utility bills, cleaning costs, and furnishing costs tend to be less expensive.
- Opportunity to downsize: Living in a small space is a great motivation to purge things you don’t need and live minimally. People with fewer things regularly report feeling happier than they did before downsizing. They also spend less money on home items.
- Cleaning is easier: Small apartments mean less area to clean and tidy. Less stuff means fewer things to organize, put away, or upkeep.
- Gets you outside: When your apartment is tiny, you’re more likely to spend time outside your home at your local coffee shops, parks, museums, libraries, and more.
- Uniqueness: The constraint of a small space often leads to creative solutions and beautiful results.
Cons of living in a studio apartment
- Lack of in-unit amenities: Because studios are smaller, there may not be space for an in-unit washer and dryer, a dishwasher, etc. While this isn’t the case for every studio apartment, it’s definitely something to check for as you’re searching for apartments.
- Entertaining may be difficult: If you love to have people over, you’ll need to get creative with your space in order to welcome guests. You can also look for a building that has common areas such as rooftop gardens.
- Minimal storage space: If you have a lot of stuff, a studio apartment may not provide you with enough storage solutions. You can purchase double-duty furniture pieces that maximize storage, but some people may not be willing to downsize enough to fit in a studio.
- Small kitchen: If you like to have lots of kitchen space, a studio may not be the ideal option for you. Plenty of people make tiny kitchens work, but it takes imagination and time to do so.
- Best for solo living: Couples and families will find it challenging to live in a studio. Even larger studio apartments present obstacles, especially when people need a little alone time. While it’s possible to make it work, consider how having no wall to separate living spaces will affect you.
Studio apartment vs. a 1-bedroom apartment
Studios and one-bedroom apartments both tend to be small. In fact, some studios are the same size or larger than some one-bedroom apartments. The main difference between the two is that the bedroom in a one-bedroom apartment is completely separate from the main living areas. A one-bedroom may also include semi-separated areas, such as a den, in its floor plan.
Studios do not have walls separating the living areas of the home (except for the bathroom, of course). They also tend to have fewer closets, smaller kitchens, and smaller bathrooms, too.
Is a studio apartment and an efficiency apartment the same thing?
While efficiency apartments and studio apartments are similar, they are not the same. An efficiency apartment is typically smaller than a studio apartment, on average 400 square feet or less. In a studio, you’ll usually find a full-size kitchen in the main living space. On the other hand, efficiency apartments usually have kitchenettes – a small kitchen with limited features such as a two-burner cooktop and no oven.
Efficiency apartments also tend to be newer builds in bustling city centers. Newer high-rise apartment buildings are incorporating efficiencies into their design, catering to people who travel a lot for work or need a pied-à-terre.
What’s the difference between a studio and a micro-apartment?
Like efficiency apartments, micro-apartments are smaller than a studio. At 350 square feet (or less), they usually have a kitchenette instead of a full kitchen. The bathroom also tends to be smaller and only offers a shower stall instead of a bathtub.
Many micro-apartments are built with luxury in mind and are situated in highly-desirable areas. For this reason, you’re not going to find rock-bottom rents with a micro-apartment. However, you will be able to rent one for less than a one-bedroom apartment in the same area.
How to decide if a studio apartment is right for you
Studios aren’t right for everyone, but many people will find that a studio apartment isn’t much different from a one-bedroom. Understanding what you need and want from your home is the first step to finding ways to make that work in a studio.
The best way to begin is by imagining your ideal living situation. What kind of home would you live in if nothing else stood in your way? Consider what you value in that ideal home and how you can recreate it in a smaller space. For example, if the kitchen is the heart of your home, you should make sure that your next apartment has full-sized appliances.
For every obstacle, there is a solution. But some things just aren’t worth dealing with. For example, if you absolutely cannot downsize your stuff due to your work or your passions, opting for a larger place is usually better than getting a studio and a storage unit. However, if being in the heart of the city is at the top of your list and you’re on a tight budget, then a studio apartment could be a great option for you.
How to maximize your living space in a studio apartment
Small-space living is not a new trend and there are plenty of solutions to make your studio apartment feel bigger than it is. Here are some tried-and-true ways to get the most out of your tiny apartment:
- Define living areas: Use furniture, wall paint, and rugs to separate your sleeping area from your living room.
- Purge: Getting rid of clutter clears your mind and your space. Digitizing paper records, selling items you no longer need, and donating the rest will take a significant weight off your shoulders.
- Go minimal: Alongside purging, adopting a one-in-one-out approach to your home will go a long way in keeping your stuff under control. This can be applied everywhere— kitchen, wardrobe, bookshelves, you name it.
- Create negative space: Raised leg furniture and wall shelves create negative space and visually lift your interior design. Letting a statement piece have a whole wall is another way to give breathing room to your decor.
- Multi-functional living: Many furniture items these days are built with more than one purpose in mind. Your couch can be a guest bed, your kitchen table can be a desk, and an ottoman can be a storage container. The possibilities are endless.
- Convertible furniture: When space is tight, using a murphy bed and other convertible furniture pieces can make a big difference. That also means that you’ll get the feeling of separate rooms when you switch your living area from sleep mode to work mode.
- Use lightweight materials: Heavy fabrics and objects can make a space feel weighed down. Gauzy materials lend an airy feeling to your home. Sheer curtains, for example, let natural light through your room while also giving you privacy.
- Go vertical: If you can go out, go up with a lofted bed, wall shelves, and more. Long curtains and other tricks can also give the appearance of taller ceilings.
- Use mirrors: Mirrors bounce light around your room, which is great when you only have a few windows. They also create depth and enlarge space, especially when you opt for a larger mirror.
- Open storage solutions: Exposing shelving in your kitchen makes things feel breezy and more open.