A studio apartment is many things. It can be the first taste of freedom for a post-grad or an affordable lived-in home for a couple in a big city. Regardless of what your studio apartment is to you, there’s usually one unavoidable drawback – they tend to be very small. Despite that, your home doesn’t have to feel cramped. Here are some tips that can help your cozy home feel a little more open.

Experiment with color and contrast

Don’t be afraid of bright colors.

Dark paint or wallpaper can make walls feel oppressive. Brighter colors on the walls, floors, and ceiling will naturally reflect more light, bringing an airy feel to your studio apartment. If you’re missing the dark side, you can always mix in some dark furniture to make a strong contrast. It will help draw more attention to your styling and less attention to the amount of space in the room.

Use accents to your advantage.

If you’re not allowed to paint your boring beige walls, small pops of accent colors can make a big impression against plain backgrounds. White walls and grey furniture can feel drab, but they can actually open up a space. Accent those shades with bright throw pillows and wall decorations to capitalize on the lack of color without losing style points.

Incorporate lengthening texture.

Wherever you can, try to play with different textures in a room. For example, stripes elongate space and a striped rug that runs parallel to the longest wall of your room will help emphasize that length.

Play with furniture arrangement

Consolidate your stuff.

Clutter is the enemy of openness. Although it may seem counterintuitive, using bigger furniture  (like one oversized sofa instead of multiple smaller pieces) can help the scale of the room feel larger. You’ll end up with the same seating capacity, but the room will feel more balanced and spread out. A sectional couch like this one would sit several people comfortably and cut down clutter.

Think Swiss Army Knife.

Furniture is usually the easiest way to experiment without making permanent changes to your rental studio. Wherever you can, it helps to use furniture that is multifunctional. Why add to the clutter of your studio apartment with a dresser when you could use the space underneath your bed for your clothing? Or try using your bed as seating. The more functions you can get your furniture to serve, the less space that will be tied up. Storage can be a challenge in a studio apartment, so don’t forget to grab a storage ottoman like this one.

Pay attention to design.

Furniture with thinner, less obtrusive legs and bodies make a room feel more open than other furniture might. For example, lucite/glass end tables like this one or this console table are made of a clear plexiglass, giving you function without obstructing light flow through the room. Avoid couches with skirts around the bottom, as the space underneath your couch can also add to the open feel of the room.

Accessorize with a purpose

Reflect on your space.

Mirrors create the optical illusion of space and reflect light, making your studio apartment feel like it has additional windows. Position your mirrors across from windows to increase the effect, if possible. Bigger mirrors are better, but multiple small ones can also be aesthetically pleasing without losing the effect.

Divide without walls.

Rugs can be used to divide your studio apartment into sections, creating various moods and areas in a single room. In one area, you can showcase your brightly-colored and lucite/glass furniture, while in another you can show off your warmer-colored accessories and wood furniture. This is especially useful if you’ve gathered up various items or hand-me-downs over the years that don’t exactly match.

Go clear.

In a smaller bathroom, a clear shower curtain can go a long way in opening up the room. The space is there, why not use it? It also has the added benefit of allowing more light into the bathroom when it’s closed.

Use the Rule of the Cantaloupe.

According to Target’s home styling expert Sabrina Soto, “Decorative accents smaller than a cantaloupe crowd a room.” Knick-knacks are nice, but larger decorative items like clear-colored vases will help prevent you from cluttering your surfaces. If you have a lot of small items you can’t part with, gather them into a purposeful arrangement in one place- like filling a hanging display case with your collection of vintage cameras.

Think about levels

Look up.

Get creative to move the eye around a room and make it feel larger. Separating your studio apartment into different floor levels can create the feel of multiple rooms. Use a riser to elevate the ground under your bed and you could use the space underneath the riser for additional storage. Or try hanging curtains that start at the ceiling and descend all the way to the floor draw the eyes upward, making the room feel taller.

Scale the walls.

Shelving near the ceiling can draw the eyes upward, emphasizing the vertical space in your apartment. They’re also a clever way of creating more storage without occupying valuable area on the ground. The more storage you can get off the floors and onto the walls, the better. The wall space over the bed can be an especially useful place to install cabinets, as you won’t frequently be using the space above it.

Having a studio apartment is an amazing opportunity to create a cozy haven. Space may be limited, but using these tips can help you achieve the spacious, streamlined feel you’re dreaming about.

Bethanie Hillier
Bethanie graduated with a degree in English. Book reports and research papers were her favorite part of school. She has worked for multiple marketing firms, writing articles for dozens of different industries. In her spare time, she is continually working toward her goal of reading 100 books a year. She also loves Sunkist Orange Soda, songs by U2, and skiing the slopes of Utah.