Efficiency Apartment

Zen_PumpkinDecember 5, 2012

I have a tricky room to decorate... It's an efficiency apartment (the bathroom is separate so it's essentially just a bedroom) shaped like a rectangle with a square chunk out of one corner for the door and a rounded corner diagonal from that. Next to the rounded corner is a window. The room is somewhere between 300-400 sq. feet, if that.

I'm really short and I prefer furniture and decorations that sit low (also influenced by traditional Japanese living arrangements/decor) but I have a high ceiling. I also cannot stand having a lot of stuff. How can I make this room look visually balanced without using a lot of stuff, and what can I use to take up the space on these huge walls?

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Pictures would help. And welcome to GardenWeb!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:18PM
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If you could post pics, you'll get more help.

Maybe you just need to embrace the blank walls

Floating bookshelves

Or you could use decals or wallpaper art to do something dramatic

Or use dramatic paint accents

I googled minimalist studio apartment images to find these

Here is a link that might be useful: Minimalist studios

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 7:40PM
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If you could post pictures or a floor plan, it would be easier to give you suggestions. Also, do you have a kitchen or other cooking facilities?

But first, take some time to think about everything you will be doing in this space. Sleeping, eating, cooking, reading, meditating, reading, using a computer, writing, crafts, studying, entertaining friends, gazing out the window, practicing Krav Maga, everything that you do on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. Those are all the functions you will need to fit into this space.

Now, I know you said you don't like having lots of stuff. But most of us have at least some stuff. What storage space does the apartment have? What do you have that won't fit in that space? Will you need book cases, extra clothing storage like a dresser? How big is the closet in this space and where is it? If you need more storage, then you need to find furniture pieces that provide that storage.

Looking at all the functions this space will hold, figure out zones for them. A sleeping zone--do you want your bed near the window to catch the morning sun, or would you prefer it over by the door where the room stays darker longer in the AM? You need an eating zone, even if that is the sofa. You need a sitting and reading zone. Many of your zones may overlap.

In my experience with studio apartments, having a good, comfortable bed is important. You also need to know yourself--will you make up a sofa bed every morning, or will you leave it out and messy when you leave for work? It can be kind of depressing to return home to a small space that is totally dominated by a messy bed that takes up most of the floor space. It's all you can see.

I have found that a twin bed made to work as a sofa with a lot of pillows or a daybed works well. You still have to make your bed, but you don't have to fold it up and put it away as well. Futons on convertible frames also work, as do Murphy beds.

I don't know what your budget is, but this site has some pretty cool convertible furniture. It's good for ideas, if nothing else. What I think is neat is that if you have stuff on a shelf, you don't have to remove it to convert the furniture. It's very well thought out.

Two key things for me--a comfortable place to flop down at the end of a long day's work. And a comfortable bed to sleep in. Other stuff depends on your particular needs.

Here is a link that might be useful: convertible furniture

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Sometimes the large expanse of wall that comes from having a high ceiling paired with low furniture is pleasing enough that it doesn't need to be compensated for by covering the wall up.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Pal, maybe zen pumpkin can use your wooden doors!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 7:41AM
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I think devising an efficient layout, and determining how to serve all the functions you need is the first step. Once that difficult exercise is done, it should be pretty easy to make the space look good -- especially since your preferences bring to mind many beautiful looks.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Zen Pumpkin, I've been thinking about your question. Here's what I'd do in your situation, if you are starting from scratch.

Plan A.

Get a good sofa-bed. Take some time selecting this, because you want something that is easy to do and undo every single day. I'd try to find one where, when you go to sleep at night, your head is by one arm of the sofa and your feet are at the other arm. This style requires you to move less furniture out of the way when you open up the bed. An alternative would be a twin-size day bed.

Then get two matching end tables, that will also serve as nightstands. They should have some storage built in, drawers or a cabinet, preferably covered, so that you aren't looking at stuff on shelves all day. Put a lamp on each end table. You can store bedding in a basket under the sofa, if the one you end up buying requires you to remove the bedding every morning.

Then get a coffee table. If you like, get a low table that you can sit on a floor cushion at, and use as a dining/work table. The cushions can store under the table when not in use.

Then I would suggest a Big Wall o' Storage. Everyone has stuff. The thing about living in a small space is that even a little stuff looks like clutter, when the same about of stuff in a larger room isn't even noticeable. Just a remote, a magazine and a glass can become clutter very quickly.

Think of the Japanese tansu. A large piece of furniture designed to store lots of stuff. You could invest in one if you find one you like. Or you could replicate the idea with much less expensive furniture. The Ikea Expedit shelves come to mind. The shelf units come in all sizes, with drawer inserts and door inserts and even a drop-down desk attachment. You could have book storage, some cabinet storage, some space to display a cherished object or two, and even put your TV on top. The more cohesive and similar your storage is, the less it will intrude on the eye as you live in the room.

You would end up buying a sofabed, two end tables, two lamps, a coffee table, floor cushions and the Wall o' Storage. You might want to add a chair or two for guests, if you might have guests that can't/won't sit on the floor.

Plan B.

Get a real bed. One that is comfortable and the size you want. Dress it to match the rest of the room, i.e. no girly florals unless the entire room is all girly florals.

Get at least one nightstand/end table to go with the bed.

Then you need a small loveseat, if you like to sprawl out or curl up, or two armchairs. If space allows, put the loveset at the foot of the bed, defining your living and sleeping areas. When you are sitting in the loveseat, you are facing away from your bedroom. Save space by using an end table or two and eliminating the coffee table.

Get a small table--everyone needs a work surface now and then. Maybe a drop-leaf table to save space. Two chairs to go with the table.

And then the Big Wall o' Storage. For all the reasons I listed above. You could do plain old shelves and hide them with floor to ceiling curtains on a ceiling track.

You would end up buying a bed, a night stand, a loveseat, one or two end tables, a table, two chairs for the table and the Wall o' Storage and some lamps.

About Beds in Studio Apartments

A lot of people instantly want to hide the bed in a studio apartment. They rig up curtains or bookcases to do so. In my experience, these strategies shout, "Look over here! The bed is here!" and don't really hide the bed at all. They also cut a small space up into even smaller spaces and can make the space look smaller and more cramped. They can also cut off daylight to parts of the apartment.

I have found it better to treat the bed as a piece of furniture that has to fit in with the rest of the room. Get a style that blends with the other furniture and use a bed cover that reflects the upholstery in the other furniture pieces.

Several years ago I was living in a studio and posted here about what to put on my bed. Someone suggested, based on my color scheme and the style of the apartment, that I get a boiled wool blanket. That's what I ended up with, a dark red boiled wool blanket that went well with the khaki, tan and black in the rest of the studio. And it was very warm, too. It made the bed look not so much like a bed as just something that belonged in the room. People were surprise at how non-bedroomy the place looked.

Do check out Apartment Therapy. They have lots of "house tours," many of them studio apartments. You can get some innovative ideas for furniture layout from them. I've linked to one post below, for some ideas. But just go there and search for "studio" to get a lot more.

Here is a link that might be useful: some studio apartments

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 10:22AM
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I rent out studio apartments and do all of the decorating. They are fully furnished. Everything is included but not overcrowded with "stuff" One of them is about 400 sq ft the other is 850 sq ft.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 7:17PM
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This is the large studio

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 7:18PM
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