Guest Dude: Styling a Studio Apartment: 19 Tips You Need to Know

If you currently live in or have experienced living in a studio apartment you know what it means to work with what you’ve got. Transforming a single room into a livable space that acts as a bedroom, living room, kitchen, office and more is no small task, and doing it alone can be a very arduous process. That’s why we’ve reached out to the experts in studio design from Miami to Portland, to offer their insights on how you can make your studio apartment as livable as possible without sacrificing aesthetic. So if you’re moving into your first studio or dorm room, follow these 20 tips to make the process as simple as possible.

Recognize the power of association

The power of association for humans cannot be understated, that’s why we recommend you organize your studio apartment around three main hubs of activity, each with access to an ample amount of natural light. First is where you sleep, make sure that your bed and resting area is neat and surrounded by only the essentials, keep your electronics away! Second is where you want to be productive; some may get more use out of this space than others, but everyone should have a space for taxes, bills, serious hobbies, etc. Put the power of productivity in your hands! Lastly have a place to relax, this is where you can watch TV, read, and generally unwind; having a designated space for each kind of activity will make it easier for your brain to tackle tasks with precision and intent. – Inhabitr

Efficiency is your friend

Studio apartment living is all about minimalism and efficiency. Storage beds are a great place to keep some clothing that can help you reduce the size of the dresser or armoire you buy. Keep your paint colors neutral or bright, as a dark color will make your space feel more confined. If you can, get some barstools for your counter to reduce the need for a table in the kitchen area. Above all, declutter at least once per quarter. You’d be amazed how much space can be created with a reduction in the knickknacks you allow to accumulate! – Maureen Mcdermut Santa Barbara RE

Try to create some sense of division

My biggest tip for designing a studio apartment is to create division and designated spaces for sleeping, dining, cooking, and living. With one open space, it is so easy to see clutter and feel confined to a single box. Easy ways to create division in a space are to define zones with different area rugs, add dividing screens, create privacy walls with bookshelves that add storage, and even hanging curtain panels to create division. – Design Dudes

Give attention to negative space

Ever heard of the saying ‘Less is more?’ This also holds true when styling your apartment. Refrain from pushing your furniture up against your walls and instead work on creating mini spaces within your room. (Tip: You can also use rugs to section off areas within the same space!) Also, avoid putting your furniture too close together. You want enough space between your furniture to help you easily and comfortably move around. – Foerni Limited

No windows? No Problem!

There are many affordable lighting solutions for small or stuffy apartment spaces. These come in all shapes and sizes and can be standing lamps, LED lights and ambient lights that replicate the feeling of warm sunlight. These can be hidden or if they’re visually appealing, placed somewhere as a centerpiece. Most of these options can be bought in places like Amazon or other online retailers. – Big Spoon Co.

Think maximization

When designing your studio apartment, think maximization when it comes to furniture function and layout but think minimization when it comes to visual clutter. Use materials that don’t take up visual space like acrylic or glass. Hang one large impactful art piece or use peel and stick wallpaper to create a large accent feature instead of hanging a busy gallery wall. Even consider one cohesive paint color for your walls, built-ins, and cabinetry to avoid chopping up space visually (bonus: the room will appear larger!). – Sidney Wagner Designs

Take advantage of multipurpose furniture

Make the most of every inch of floor space with multipurpose furniture pieces. A wall-mounted shelf with coat hooks adds a spot for displaying art and photographs while storing coats more efficiently in a small hallway. A Murphy desk provides a dedicated workspace when you need it, without crowding your living space when you don’t. – NY State MLS

Studio Apartments are the ultimate in self-expression in a very limited square foot space.  In order to feel as if the environment is larger than the actual footprint, several key strategies can be put in place to succeed.  First, don’t overlook multi-functioning furnishings.  These creative objects can provide several functioning purposes while taking up minimal space.   A dining settee with a mid-height back can comfortably sit for evening meals and double up as a small sofa for binge-watching your favorite series on Netflix.  Throw in a small cushion/ottoman for an impromptu meal guest and then use it to prop your feet up with the settee. – Pu’uwai Design and Build

Having a murphy bed allows you to increase your usable space during the day for your hobbies and needs. A Murphy bed is a regular bed that can be folded up into the wall. This way, your studio can also be your home office or home gym. While Murphy beds are often expensive, companies like Lori Wall Beds offer a high-quality, inexpensive alternative certain to meet the needs of even the tightest budgets. – Lori Wall Beds

Optimize your storage space

Installing frameless cabinets increases drawer storage space by 20%, compared to framed models. Also make sure to fully utilize cabinet drawer space by using a tiered cutlery divider for utensils such as forks, spoons and knives. – Brad Iseri, Senior Kitchen and Bath Designer, HPM Building Supply

Add an artistic touch

One of the easiest ways to transform your space is with art on your wall. It sets the tone for the entire space and can evoke any mood you like; from bright and playful to calm or dramatic. The right art can brighten your mood and uplift your spirits when you walk in the room and has a unique power to transport you anywhere…and don’t be afraid to go big when it comes to size! – Latitudes Gallery, Ventura

One of the quickest and the most unique ways to transform your studio apartment is by using art to create an illusion of a bright open space. There are artists, like myself who will work with you on creating a new vision for your space using a variety of materials; canvas, paintings, wall sculptures, murals, fabrics, acrylic, metal, or wood. The style of the art can be Modern, Bohemian, Traditional, Scandinavian, Shabby Chic, Hollywood Glam, or Rustic with the composition and concept of the art creating a more airy and bright space. Live the dream you envision with art. – Robin Maria Pedrero

Decide on a focal point

A well-staged room has a singular defined purpose and a focal point. Buyers scan a room from left to right when entering, much like we read a book. If you place the tallest piece of furniture in the far left corner, the room will appear larger than if that same piece of furniture is closer to the entry. Placing a large or tall piece of furniture near an entryway or door tricks the eye into thinking a space is smaller than it is, one should keep taller items in corners or eliminate them altogether. – FormDecor Furniture Rental

Decorate with intent

Only add items you love and remember to include focal-point pieces that will make a statement. Items with no installation, such as our Slimline Bio Ethanol Stove, can benefit a studio or small space with a no-fuss setup. This, and other pieces of furniture alike, means you can feng-shui your space until you are happy with the end result. – Bio Fires

Make it original

Put the ‘studio’ back in ‘studio apartment’ by showcasing the cool creative you are.  On a mid-century credenza, a flea market table topped with an Indian bedspread, or a curbside reject revived with paint (pieces that can also offer hidden storage) prop a painting, stack books you’ve read or want to read, place interesting found objects. Start the visual conversation as soon as anyone walks into the room. You be you. – Judith Fertig, Kansas City Magazine

Utilize vertical space

If a space is small, I try to utilize vertical space as much as possible. Perhaps a floating shelf around the perimeter of the top 2′ of the wall for books and plants. Large scale art to create an illusion of grandeur and make a focal point. Paint the ceiling the same color as the wall so the eye doesn’t stop and everything just FEELS more spacious, well designed and FREE. – Spark Vintage Rentals

Less is more

In studios or small apartments, minimalist style is the key. Keep the decor simple and straightforward. I advise you to decorate only with basic furniture. Do not use any furniture pieces or objects that have no specific purpose. This decoration will give a greater sense of space and depth. With fewer elements, space will gain in personality. – Noelia Unik Designs

Make good use of your available space

Living in a studio is really about making good use of every inch of the area while not creating a jam-packed feeling. You may consider including convertible furniture in your home. For example, I have seen a work desk that can be folded and mounted to a wall when not used. It can be displayed as decoration and help to save space tremendously. Another one I have seen is a small coffee table that can be opened up into a big dining table. – Jacob Coleman at RealEstateCareerHQ

Keep it light

Stick with light colors for wall paint and even lighter on the ceiling to draw the eyes upward and to create an illusion of higher ceilings, as well as light-colored flooring. Invest in good lighting to brighten everything up. If you are installing kitchen cabinets, go all the way up to the ceiling so that you can get in more storage and avoid wasted space. Consider a Murphy Bed with built-in shelving/night table space (they make extremely comfortable and attractive ones these days) to enable you to hide your bed during the day. With furnishings, focus on items that have multi-purpose uses, such as a small island that doubles as a kitchen table/workspace, or an ottoman that functions as a coffee table or as seating. Items with built-in storage are helpful to keep clutter at bay. – Team Hatvany

Originally published on Redfin

Guest Dude: 5 Decor Ideas to Liven Up Your Home

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced most of us to stay at home to prevent the transmission of the virus. As we spend more time indoors, it’s important to take the time to organize and spruce up our homes-turned-offices. After all, good design, Psychology Today notes, can contribute to a better overall mental state. To help you out, we’ve compiled for you five décor tips to get you started:

Play with Textures

Add a pop of liveliness to an otherwise flat and boring room by incorporating and experimenting with different textures. Doing so is useful, especially if you’re big on neutral colors and don’t want to include hues that are too bold or loud.

One obvious way to do this is by using cushions or blankets, but you can also add textural accents with trinkets like lamps, baskets, dried flowers, or candles.

Use Eco-friendly Materials

There’s always been an ethical question when it comes to fast fashion and fast décor. As we become more environmentally conscious, the demand for sustainable products grows. The same can be said for interior design.

Luckily, there are a lot of materials to choose from that have a low environmental footprint. Furniture made from materials like timber, acacia, bamboo, and rattan, which are all sustainably sourced, are examples of these. The best part? They lend a warm earthiness to a space, which can help if you’re trying to achieve a more eclectic kind of look.

Make a Gallery Wall

An empty wall is like a blank canvas, and what better way to decorate it than to turn it into your personal gallery? For a more bohemian touch, HomeServe recommends starting with collecting things you love in print form – family photographs, original art, even newspaper clippings.

Once you’ve gathered enough material to cover your wall, it’s up to you how to arrange your frames. You could organize them into themes – family in one corner and friends in the other, for example – or you can do it randomly in a mixed arrangement, depending on your preferences.

Clean Up the Clutter

If your tastes skews towards a more minimalist style, you can take a cue from mid-century interior designs. Forbes notes the style’s enduring appeal, and for good reason.

The mid-century style emphasizes cleanliness, simple lines, flat planes, and plenty of light. You can mimic this in your own home by doing away with excess ornaments and adding as much natural light as possible to create the illusion of an expansive space. Books, nightstands, and coffee tables are also great fixtures and accessories you can use to draw the eye towards sharp geometric patterns.

Incorporate Nature-inspired Colors

With the pandemic depriving us of most of our outdoor activities, Architectural Digest predicts a trend of using nature-inspired tones in interior design this year.

Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors, recommends using liberal swaths of deep greens and blues to relax the eyes and give you a much-needed dose of nature even as you stay indoors. If you have a garden, you can also pick out a few flowers to add as a colorful centerpiece to your room.

These tips can be useful for beginners looking for guidance on how to decorate their homes. But as we’ve previously mentioned here in our post How To Find Your Interior Design Style, your space is your own at the end of the day. Perhaps the best tip we could give you is to stay true to your own style. Everything else will follow.

Guest Dude: Pop by Hiral

I love seeing how other dudes and dudettes express their creativity, especially in the home. When I came across Pop by Hiral, I knew I had to get her to share the story behind her writing and uniquely illustrated art and decor. Based in Southern California, Hiral creates introspective prose and illustrations that allow viewers to reflect and rediscover themselves.

Here is her guest blog post, enjoy!

pop by hiral

Hi, my name is Hiral. I’m a business owner, writer, artist, and philanthropist.  I would say I’m best known for my compassion towards humanity, my ambition to help others heal, and my creative eye for design.

Growing up, I have always been into different forms of expression, from writing to speaking to playing music. But, I love the concept of words most, which is why writing has always been therapeutic for me. Through this I started @popbyhiral – an online destination that cultivates the deep enjoyment of my written words and illustrated drawings which express the different points of perception that POP up in my mind. Knowing I can help heal others and bring unity through the art of my words is the main reason why I continue to write.

I love using different mediums within my work as it’s visually pleasing to the mind for those who see and read it. I enjoy writing poetry, because it helps the reader understand feelings in a deeper perspective. I also write short quotes and encouraging messages to uplift others. I believe every form of writing communicates beauty and evokes emotion. I chose the name ‘POP by Hiral’ based on all the many topics and design ideas that would pop into my mind; be it through the different people that I meet, stories that I hear or read, music I listen to, interviews, podcasts, etc. – I gain inspiration everywhere!

decorative pillow

Through developing @popbyhiral, I thought it would be great to introduce products to play as beautiful reminders to help you feel good and to feel more at peace within your soul. I design anything from prints, canvases, home decor, and accessories. I think my work can be best portrayed in a space where one needs most comfort, like anywhere in your home, your bedroom, your office space, etc. You can visit my website at: for more.

Whether it be my technical side or my creative side, I believe what makes me most successful is authenticity. It’s easy to get lost amidst what you see online or based on the timeline of other people’s success but staying absolutely true to yourself and to your purpose is what will set you up for your own greatness. Every individual’s path and story is different, which makes life interesting. As long as you continue to be authentic, I believe your highest heights can be reached. I’m looking forward to seeing how many lives I can POP up into, as I continue building this creative brand.

inspirational quote canvass art

Make sure to check out Hiral’s beautiful work on her website. You are sure to find something inspiring!

Want to be featured on the Design Dudes blog or Instagram? Send me a message at

What is Mid Century Boho?

So, are you even allowed to combine interior design styles in the first place? I am here to tell you the simple answer, yes! Combining styles is a great way to make your space dynamic, and it serves as the perfect catalyst to compromise for couples and roommates. If you have two styles that you love and just can’t make up your mind like me, then combining them will bring you the best of both worlds. Let’s take a look at the two very different styles I chose to combine in my loft.

Defining Mid Century Style

Mid Century Modern refers to the time period during the middle of the 20th century when products and buildings were designed in line with the Modernist movement. The Mid Century aesthetic is defined by clean lines, simple shapes, and a focus on the materials used. It often places a high emphasis on function in addition to form, and takes into account lifestyle needs.

Basically, this style has many minimalist features and an overall bright and clean feeling for simple living.

mid century sofa

Defining Boho Style

The boho or “bohemian” style embraces the eclectic and unique. Unlike the Mid Century aesthetic, boho embodies a maximalist lifestyle rather than a minimalist look. Boho interiors are curated with collections from travels, vintage finds, and unique pieces. Traditionally the style embraces natural elements as the base, like jute and wicker, and layers in bright jewel tones through the accessories.

Think of boho as an explosion of colors, textures, and special items on full display.

boho bedroom

Why Blend Interior Design Styles

So, why blend these two looks? I have two main reasons for blending interior design styles that don’t seem to match at first glance.

1. Blending interior design styles creates contrast and tells a story.

When you walk into a room where everything matches, it can feel a bit boring. This is because none of the pieces are telling different stories. If all our friends had the same beliefs and opinions, we’d have a boring social circle. The same goes for the items in your home. You want items that contrast and form a unique conversation in the room. Pair new and old, metals and woods, bright colors and neutrals, they all have something to add to the mix.

2. Blending interior design styles is practical

Combining styles is practical when multiple people live in the space, or if you have items that don’t match your main style. For example, I love the Mid Century style and used it as the base for my loft. However, my art collection is anything but Mid Century and encompasses a wide array of pieces. That sounds a little boho, right? Adding additional boho elements made the art fit the space and also added a fun contrast to the clean lines.

mid century boho living room

Finding Your Blend of Decor Styles

Now, it is time to find your blend of decor styles! My suggestion is to find styles that contrast, but that also have some common element. For example both Mid Century and boho looks utilize a lot of bright accent colors like teal and burnt orange. They also both have ties to the 60s and 70s. (Hippies were the original bohemians, right?)

I would also recommend limiting yourself to two styles so that the look is intentional and not like a messy collection of indecisiveness. Some style duos have become so popular that they are a style in their own right. Traditional and contemporary were paired so frequently, that the transitional style was born as the perfect blend.

Of course, always remember that it is your space and your opinion is the most important thing.

Hope you dudes enjoyed!

If you have additional questions on blending styles, email me at

Need help pulling together your own blended space? Check out my design services.

What Is Mid Century Modern?

What is the Definition of Mid Century Modern?

Mid Century Modern is often abbreviated as MCM, and no it does not have anything to do with #ManCrushMonday. It refers to the time period during the middle of the 20th century, roughly the 1940s through 1970s, in which products and buildings were designed in line with the Modernist movement of the time. The Mid Century Modern aesthetic is defined by clean lines, simple shapes, and a focus on the materials used. It often placed a high emphasis on function in addition to form, and it took into account the lifestyle needs of the decades. A Mid Century Modern home may include features like post and beam construction to allow for large walls of glass, open floor plans for informal living, and front facing privacy walls for secluded courtyards.

mid century home
Example of Breeze Blocks

What Are The Key Features Of Mid Century Design?

Mid Century design is iconic, and there are a few architectural elements to know if you are looking to spot this style out in the wild. Get ready to brush up on your Mid Century vocab, because we are going to define some key terms.

1. Butterfly Roof – a roof plane where the high points occur at the outside edges and the low point occurs in the middle, creating a V-shape or butterfly wings.

2. Cantilever – a beam that projects past its supporting wall or column.

3. Clerestory Windows – Windows located at the top of the wall immediately below the roof plane. These would be above the standard sight line and allow for light while maintaining privacy.

4. Folded Plate Roof – A roof plane that creates repetitive angles or ridges, as if it were a series of paper folds.

mid century modern roofline
Example of Long Gable Roof and Clerestory Windows

5. Long Gable Roof – A roof plane where the pitched portion occurs perpendicular to the shortest end of the structure, creating an elongated profile

6. Breeze Block – decorative cast blocks with open spaces to allow light and wind to pass through, used for accents and privacy around patio areas.

7. Swiss Miss – A roof style characterized by a steeply pitched gable that extends to the ground

mid century modern swiss miss roof
Example of Swiss Miss

If you keep an eye out for these features, you will spot Mid Century inspired design in more places than you expected!

Why is Mid Century Modern Still Popular?

Obviously Mid Century Modern was a popular style during the greater part of the mid-20th century, but why are we still seeing it around today? I think there are a few key reasons why we embraced the look again in the early 21st century.

1. Functionality

The Mid Century style places a high emphasis on function, making it an easy choice when you want your space to work for you. In a time of automation, same-day delivery, and instant information, I think it only makes sense that we would embrace a decor style that also works for us, rather than the other way around.

2. Smaller Urban Living

Over the 2000s and 2010s, urban city centers around the United States experienced a resurgence, gentrification, and influx of young professionals repopulating smaller spaces again. Rather than the suburban dream of yard space and 3,000 square feet, people were choosing 700 square feet apartments and balconies. Mid Century furniture is typically low profile, sleek, and has clean lines that don’t look cluttered. This makes it the perfect choice for furnishing smaller spaces.

mad men gif peggy
This is my favorite scene from Mad Men

3. The Popularity of Mad Men

Mad Men ran from 2007 through 2015 and was hailed as one of the most popular shows of the “Golden Age” of television. It is pretty clear to me that the detailed period sets of this drama series had a huge effect on how we decided to furnish our living rooms. Furthermore, this show was embraced by young adults who were starting to furnish their very first apartments. Who better to sell you a style than Don Draper?

4. Range of Accessibility

Mid Century Modern is also one of few style choices that has such a wide range of accessibility and price points. When it comes to original period pieces, you could take some hand-me-downs from your grandparents for free, grab estate sale furniture for a bargain, or pay top dollar for restored and authenticated antiques.

The same goes for reproductions. You could shop basic and affordable items from IKEA, Wayfair, World Market, and even Target. Or, you could splurge on more expensive recreations from West Elm, Design Within Reach, and Article. The number of options gave almost every budget access to the look, which is not always the case when it comes to other styles.

mid century modern furniture
Sofa by West Elm, Pillows by Target

So, there you have it!

Now you know the definition and key features of the Mid Century Modern style and a few of my takes on why it is so popular in our current decade.

Hope you dudes enjoyed!

If you have additional questions on Mid Century style, email me at

Need help pulling together your own Mid Century inspired space? Check out my design services.