Table of Contents
- I’m an interior designer in Chicago — here’s how I decorated my 350-square-foot studio apartment.
- I use mirrors and light colors to give the illusion of a bigger space.
- Glass and acrylic furniture pieces and accents help my space look cohesive and more spacious.
I’m an interior designer who specializes in residential luxury design.
Luxury clients have certain standards and often a higher budget. So once I transitioned into designing my own space I had to figure out how to achieve that luxurious look I love at a more realistic cost.
Here’s how I did it:
Downsizing was crucial
As soon as I found out I was relocating from Indianapolis to Chicago I knew I had to downsize. I was able to find a place at a similar price point to what I was paying before, but it was less than half the size.
I looked through every item I had and determined whether it was worth keeping by asking myself if it brought me joy. If it did, I kept it. If not, I sold or donated it.
When choosing my apartment, I opted for more space over convenience
While hunting for apartments online, I knew I was willing to commute further to the city if it meant that I got more square footage.
I found that the further north I went the more square footage I could afford, so I ended up approximately 5 miles from downtown Chicago. It doesn’t seem far, but my commute downtown can take 30 to 40 minutes.
Fortunately, with extra square footage came a walk-in closet, which is almost unheard of in a studio apartment.
My closet is conveniently located as a buffer between the living space and the bathroom. Plus it fits my clothes, shoes, a dresser, and a few large baskets for additional storage.
Space planning helped me clearly map out specific areas in my studio
Space planning is a crucial step in the interior-design process and it’s one of my favorites. To me, it’s like playing Tetris with people’s belongings and figuring out the best way for them to flow within the space.
When figuring out a layout for my small apartment I created a few options to see what would work best to define separate areas within one space.
I wanted my studio to look cohesive but also have three distinct spaces: a living area, bedroom, and dining nook.
To map out and define my living areas, I used separate rug arrangements in each space
Plus rugs add layers to a space and make it feel more grounded while also adding texture and coziness.
They are also great for acoustic purposes, which is handy because the floors in my old building tend to creak. Rugs mask a majority of that creaking and also block some noise from the lower level.
I thought about functional, subtle storage solutions for months before moving in
My goal was to create subtle places to store things that flow seamlessly through the overall aesthetic of the space.
One way I achieved this was with my storage ottomans, which have multiple uses. They can be used as a footstool, coffee table, and additional seating. Even the bench at the end of my bed opens up for storage.
Mirrors are perfect for making a small space feel bigger
I have an extra closet and I love its mirrored doors, which make my space feel much larger. Since I’m in a smaller studio, I wanted to incorporate even more mirrors.
I added a large, leaner one to act as functional decor while making the room feel larger. I propped the mirror in a spot that would reflect the longest distance of visual wall space, which made the room feel as spacious as possible.
Keeping your colors and materials consistent can help a space feel cohesive
I stuck to black and cream for the overall design of my space.
I wanted to replicate this palette throughout each individual area to make the space feel more open and marry the apartment together as a whole. I even put black and cream colors on display in the part of my closet that is visible from the living area.
I also kept my metals cohesive, opting for polished chrome and nickel finishes. These finishes are reflective and bounce off light, which can subtly make a space feel bigger.
I also incorporated a lot of glass and acrylic throughout my home to create lines and shape in a way that make the space feel larger and more open. Acrylic accents open up the room and allow light to pass through because they take up virtually no space to the eye but still have functionality.
Many designers consider symmetry when working on a space — but that doesn’t always mean having 2 of the same exact items
For example, I chose differently shaped nightstands to go on either side of my bed.
Changing up the shapes gave the space the eclectic flair I was looking for but making sure both had wood finishes and marble tops created symmetry.
In my small kitchen, I made my appliances and essentials part of the decor
Unfortunately, my kitchen only came with 12 inches of counter space.
I put a stainless-steel kitchen island across from my cabinets to quadruple my counter space while creating a sort of industrial look.
My kitchen also doesn’t have much storage so I chose to make my appliances part of the decor. When buying them, I made sure they matched each other and the space.
I even showcase my black flatware and tan kitchenware on the bottom shelf of my kitchen island. This allows me to use the cabinets as a pantry and forces me to keep my dishes clean since they are part of the decor.