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7 Decorating Mistakes You Should Avoid in a Studio Apartment

Apartment living offers an array of benefits such as a close-knit community, worry-free maintenance, and a smaller ecological footprint. However, one thing that a lot of apartments don’t offer is an abundance of space, especially when it comes to studio apartments. For this reason, these smaller homes require extra attention to detail when decorating—but that certainly doesn’t mean they can’t look fabulous!

To ensure your studio feels spacious and stylish, start by avoiding these 7 common decorating mistakes.

1. Not Dividing the Space

FLATS Chicago Apartments(FLATS)

It can be tempting to push all your furniture against the walls in a studio apartment to maximize space. But if you do so, you are missing the opportunity to create a subtle division among living areas that can enhance your design. For example, the Bush Temple studio apartment (shown above) uses a loveseat to carve out a cozy living room area that doubles as an office.

Other items you may want to use to create a visual separation between areas include open bookshelves, curtains, folding walls, and area rugs

2. Avoiding Pattern

There is no doubt that using solids can create a chic and minimalist interior. However, if you love decorating with pattern, you don’t have to avoid them just because your living space is on the small side.

Smaller Patterns: Small patterns tend to be busier and more visually stimulating, so it is often best to use them in concentrated areas. This may mean integrating them using an area rug, art prints, or a couple of throw pillows.

Large Patterns: If you are worried about adding a patterned element into your studio apartment, opt for a chunky one like bold stripes or chevron to err on the safe side. These patterns aren’t as busy, so they are much easier to integrate into most designs without making it feel crowded. Another upside is that they are easier to mix and match.

3. Keeping Finishes or Colors You Hate


(Alexandra Gorn)

Apartment dwellers bound by their rental agreement to not make any permanent changes may feel like they have to embrace ugly wall colors and outdated finishes. However, this isn’t the case. There are plenty of ways you can temporarily change everything from your walls to your countertops—all without causing permanent changes or damage.

Walls: Just because you can’t paint doesn’t mean you are stuck with a dull hue. Temporary wallpaper is an easy solution that is available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and textures. Some renters also opt to make removable fabric wallpaper to create an accent wall.

Cupboards and Countertops: Contact paper is the solution to update any kitchen surface—think refrigerators, dishwashers, cabinets, and counters. With contact paper, you can finally take those wood cupboards to sleek black gloss or transform your outdated countertops into contemporary white marble.

Furniture: If you dream about a bold green wall, but your budget doesn’t support wallpaper, get crafty and paint a piece of thrifted furniture or furniture you already own. This can incorporate that glorious green hue into your decor in an inexpensive way that still makes a statement. As a bonus, you get to take it with you if you move!

4. Ignoring Vertical Space

Vertical space is far too often ignored. But the truth is, using it is the easiest way to make your apartment more stylish and functional. Embracing vertical space by adding shelving, a large pegboard, or hanging plant holders will create the illusion of a more spacious apartment by drawing the viewer’s eye upward. Plus, it can also help you score a bit of extra storage—and who doesn’t need that!?

Adding open shelving to a small kitchen can particularly be helpful as it adds storage and a decorative element—without adding unnecessary accessories. Display your dishware on these shelves, a few cookbooks, some mugs, a plant, etc. Be sure to sift through what you already own before adding anything new into the mix. You might be surprised at the display-worthy gems you already have on hand!

5. Failing to Vary Textures


(Charlota Blunarova)

Many people with studio apartments tend to go with the bare minimum for decor because they feel like it will make the space look larger. Unfortunately, sometimes this method can backfire, making an apartment feel lifeless and undecorated. If this is your case, and you find your home is looking a little lackluster, you may want to try adding texture.

Adding texture can make a home feel cozier, more stylish, and even larger due to the added perception of depth. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding throw pillows with different textures to a sofa or bed. However, you may also want to consider:

  • Using a mix of matte and gloss finishes.
  • Adding a few plants.
  • Decorating with faux flowers.
  • Incorporating woven baskets.
  • Installing a fabric wall hanging.
  • Rolling out an area rug.

6. Going Small

Just because your apartment is small doesn’t mean the art hanging on your wall has to be. A well-placed large abstract or landscape painting or print can not only help set the mood and color scheme for your home, but it can also create a focal point. A common place to hang large art is over the bed, but above a desk or dresser also work great. If you are short on wall space, try using a rug with a bold print instead. It can add some artistic flair to your living area and anchor your design.

Have small pieces of art you want to hang? Try grouping them together to make a gallery wall. Just be sure to keep highly ornate accessories in the area to a minimum to avoid overwhelming the design and ensure that your gallery wall takes center stage.

7. Not Embracing Mirrors

Kevin O'Gara white living room with long sectional and velvet ottomans, Atoll white mirror from Ballard Designs between windows on Thou Swell #livingroom #livingroomdesign #livingroomideas #whiteroom #interiordesign #homedecorideas #ballarddesigns

Mirrors work by reflecting light around a room, instantly making it feel bigger brighter. So they are a must if your windows are on the small side. The good news is that this decor item is widely available in a variety of styles, colors, and shapes, so you are sure to find one that vibes with your design preferences. You may want to consider adding a mirror to your living room, bedroom, or entrance.

Finally, don’t forget to find what feels right for you. You don’t have to avoid the type of decor you like just because you live in a certain space. Designing your studio apartment around your preferences, instead of fleeting trends, ensures it feels authentic to you—making it truly feel like home.

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