Styling a small studio: The MOA’s way

When styling a small studio we start to wonder: how can we make our small flat (let’s say 50 square meters or less than that) feel truly huge/? Throughout my career as an architect and self-taught interior designer, I have learned that just because you live in a small studio doesn’t mean you have to feel it like a tiny cage. Certainly, your space is limited by walls but your creativity has to go beyond these barriers. 

styling a small studioStudio Apartment (via Fantastic Frank)

Since I was a child, I used to live in my parents’ house in Caracas. It wasn’t really a big one but, of course, I could enjoy all different spaces that are essential in a ‘standard house’; I even had my own room. Moving to London represented a big change for me in so many aspects of my life. Especially, because I started to live in so many different tiny places where most of them I often had to share the limited space with some other people that I’ve never met before.

I’m not going to lie. At the beginning, it was so hard to change my mindset and start to successfully adapt to this dramatic change of scale but, after I while, I was so fascinated about moving into small studios and challenging myself on making it feel like home. My first studio in Central London wasn’t styled as beautiful as the ones I used to see always in magazines and blogs on the internet. However, I was so happy because I could fit enough furniture to make it look like ‘my pretty little apartment’, having my own living room, bedroom, wardrobe, terrace and some other furniture for storage in less than 20 square meters!

So, once again, how could I achieve this still being able to get out from my bed to the couch still having some space to walk through? Well, I never stopped trying and considering different solutions on space planning, new decoration, and fresh layouts in order to fit my needs and lifestyle. I really wanted to make it a place where I love to spend my free time after a long day. Thus, I came up with plenty of creative solutions that now I’m going to share with you.

Here is ‘my own way’ for successfully living in your one-room home and take advantage of every square meter of your space as you deserve it. Just follow these 8 simple pieces of advice!

bookcase small flat ELISABETH Open modular bookcase by Pacini & Cappellini (via Archiproducts)


 1. Please, don’t treat your studio flat as a single room

No… Please don’t do it. Certainly, you probably have a one-space flat, but as I said at the beginning of this blog, your creativity has to go beyond the limit of your 4 walls. You have to find an innovative way to create virtual dividers that add dynamism and versatility to your lovely studio.

Personally, I don’t like to use solid walls or sliding doors as dividers because for me it’s quite important to keep the freshness and lightness when having a small place. Instead, I love adding a bookcase, wall planter divider or a clothing rack minimal filled to create a beautiful and stylish room partition. These ideas will help you to organise different spaces in your open floor plan while being permeable and functional.

plant decoration ideas Green Screen ideas  (via MOA style)

Besides, don’t be afraid of using wall patterns, flooring textures and rugs to create a virtual division of the spaces within your studio.

small studio minimal decoration A great use of a beautiful rug to virtually divide the room (via ELLE decoration)
small studio wallpaper You can add a colourful wallpaper at the end of your room to differentiate your spaces (via Curbed)


2. Choose the right colour scheme 

I’ve been always impressed by the power of the colours. It is amazing how few simple changes to the colour scheme in your small studio can make it appear more spacious. Choosing an overall palette of soothing white punctuated by concentrated colour brightens will give an illusion of space.

small studio colour wall

small studio colour wall A stunning combination of White and Bright Yellow (via Marion Alberge)

In case your landlord doesn’t allow you to change the colour of the walls, you can always use the ‘Peel and Stick wallpapers’ as the ones created by the company Walls Need Love. They offer a wide range of vibrant colours and durable woven polyester. I highly recommend this product which is very easy to install and clear away without compromising your deposit.

Modern wallpaper Self Adhesive ‘Ombre Herringbone Wallpaper’ (via Livettes)


3. Multifunctional transforming furniture: A smart way to take advantage of your space

Yes, it is true that choosing the right colours will give the perception that your space is bigger when styling a small studio. In fact, you have to accept that your home is physically small and therefore you have to make smart furniture choices for your studio to feel like a fully customised abode. But this is not an excuse for not having a nice dining table or a big bed.

There awesome solutions for creating spaces within a tiny room (via Fuseproject)

Currently, there is a wide range of brands and stores such where you can acquire transforming beds, tables, sofas and a range of other products, all of which boast both stylish good looks and smart engineering. However, if you are looking for sophisticated and really functional furniture, MIT Media Lab has partnered with designer Yves Béhar for creating the new Ori system. This a smart module is ideal for tiny apartments because with the touch of a button you will be able to turn your bedroom into a living room. If you don’t trust me, have a look at the next video. You will be amazed! (via Dezeen)

Additionally, you can add a Pegboard and Dowels to create open shelvings. I really love this idea because they have massive potential for customisation, so you can save space and live smarter while giving a unique touch to your surroundings.

Pegboard small flat Pegboards ideas for kitchen and bedroom (via MOA style)

This might sound silly, but you have to keep in mind your room’s measures before selecting the right size of furniture. Don’t buy them just because you like at first sight. Try to combine them appropriately but also take into account the functionality when considering buying it or not. Believe me, you won’t like to have a side table that you have to squeeze to fit into your room and make it look overcrowded.

4. Free up the floor! Hang as much as you can!

Struggling to have some free space on the floor? Try hanging everything you can, take advantage of the ceiling! The possibilities are endless, you just need some creative inspirations and then you will realise this is the best way to free up your floor.

Trimm Copenhagen is a Danish design-driven company that creates lifestyle products like hanging furniture for people who make particularly high demands on quality, comfort, mobility, weight and modern design. They have many awesome furniture designs from hanging tables and chairs to a decorative and practical laundry basket and vertical flower pots that make it easy to move around your studio.

Hanging Plants Vertical Flowerpots and Hang Desk (via TRIMM Copenhagen)

Another great idea when styling a small studio is to hang your bike on the wall. This can save you so much space. I’m not a bike enthusiast, but I know people who really love riding a bike will appreciate this fabulous inspiration.

Small flat ideas Use these fabulous bike hangers to keep it safe inside your studio (via Cactus Tongue)


5. Don’t forget that ‘green is good’ 

Although I know your space is reduced, I always advise adding some green to your decoration. By doing this, you can give your studio flat a fantastic welcoming touch, fresh sensation and many health benefits.

To incorporate your houseplants with style, you must have a look at the variety of pieces created by Hemleva. I have to say, I love so much what this girl is creating. Everything is extremely beautiful and simple! You can place Hemleva hanging ornament on any surface, suspended from the ceiling to float in the breeze, utilised as a calming mobile, or embraced as an air plant holder. This is an ideal and elegant way to bring nature to you!

Hanging plants Hang your plants using this glamorous mobile decoration (via Hemleva)


6. Exploit your vertical space and increase your square meters

Make the most of your little flat taking advantage of your vertical free space. If the height allows you and any restriction apply within your contract, you can take full potential of your room building a mezzanine. This will help you to extend the living spaces of your studio while creating inviting social areas.

Small flat ideas Get inspired by this 22-metre-square flat and take advantage of the height of your studio (via Dezeen)

Don’t worry about having stairs! Actually, this will give you a great advantage when you are looking for more places to storage. It doesn’t matter how awkward or stretch is the space underneath your stair. If you use your creativity, you can adapt this as best suits you.

If a mezzanine is not an option for you, you can still create different levels building a platform. Apart to create virtual delimitations, you will also have plenty space underneath to store your stuff adding some drawers. Get creative when it comes to storage areas and places to carve out the more useable square meter.

Small flat ideas Transform your flat adding a ground-floor space (via Dezeen)


7. Never underestimate the power of mirrors

I have to confess… I’m mirror lover! Especially the ones you can place against the wall. They are quite versatile when decorating our home. It depends on where you decide to place them, you can create different effects like reflecting light and colour to add visual interest, opening up spaces and generally enhancing the decor.

One of my favourites? Well, for me it’s so difficult to decide. It depends basically on your decoration. But if I have to choose one, I’d be very happy adding this simple but elegant ‘Metal Floor Mirror’ from West Elm. This tall, clean-lined Metal Floor Mirror works perfectly leaned against a wall. Its lightweight and subtle frame adds a finished touch without competing with other furnishings.

A pro tip for you: position them opposite your window to double your view!

Bedroom Mirror This tall, clean-lined Metal Floor Mirror works perfectly leaned against a wall (via West Elm)


8. This is serious, you have to keep everything tidy 

Guys, this is really important when styling a small studio… It doesn’t matter how much you spend on smart furniture for storage solutions if you have excessive belongings. If you decide to live in a studio flat, you have to make sure everything you have is really everything you need. You cannot afford to start piling innumerable items, we have to keep everything which is really meaningful and functional.

Our desk, closet, and shelves tend to get messy so quickly in a small space. For this reason, I always like to decorate minimally and use containers to store all my stuff, leaving space enough for everything I use on daily basis. I really hate piling so many clothes and objects that I don’t use, that’s why I created a plan for weekly cleaning for staying organised. Click on each slide to meet some of the stuff I love to keep everything tidy.

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That’s a wrap for my top 8 advises on styling a small studio regarding my personal and professional experience! I hope this was helpful in giving you new ideas to maximise the potential of your tiny home. Please let me know in the comments below how the MOA style has inspired you to try something new at home.