How I turned my studio apartment into a one bedroom

It has been six whole fly-by months since I’ve been living in this apartment, and I’ve reached the point where it feels like a complete space. Not finished! Never finished, but cohesive without many corners that are works in progress. We had a snow day recently, and I used the time to clean, cook and putter around the house, so it was also the perfect opportunity to take some pictures of the space as a whole.

To start, let’s take a trip back. (You’ll have to excuse the camera phone pictures, it was all that I had at the time!) Here’s a tour of the space the day that I got the keys, in roughly the same order as I’ll show you the current views.

When you walked in the front door, you were able to look straight across the main room into the kitchen:

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The far wall on the left was the fireplace:

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And the right wall was a blank space:

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Here is the view looking into the bathroom:

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And looking towards the front door from the kitchen:

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After painting everything except the white bathroom, my next project in the space was also the biggest one, and solved two separate and crucial challenges I faced with a studio apartment. It started with wanting to create a separate space for the cats. I have two cats and 70lb dog, and while they all get along, it seemed prudent to use the 12 foot high ceilings to create a loft space for the cats. The second challenge the space posed was figuring out where to put the bed. While I wanted a comfortable sleeping space, I also did not want the bed to dominate the room. I like to entertain, and I definitely didn’t want to feel like I was throwing cocktail parties in my bedroom.

I did a whole lot of internet searching, but found very few appealing examples of ways that people have created “bedrooms” in a studio space. Bookcases! and decorative screens! seemed to be the consensus, but they always just look like bookcases and screens to me. I also did not want to change the architecture of the room (renting and all), so it needed to be something free standing. After trying a few things out in room planning software, I came up with with an ambitious idea for a bednook. I am lucky to have a very handy dad who did not scoff when I presented him with my blueprints, but told me he’d drive down the next weekend with his pickup truck and powerdrills.

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The finished nook is just a little bit bigger than a double bed. At 8 ft tall, it’s the height of a standard room, and it’s incredibly cozy to sleep in at night. The walls create hallways at both the entrance and next to the kitchen, which has the effect of making the space feel much larger than it is. It’s anchored to the back wall with two long screws, but is otherwise free-standing, and I created shelf “steps” for the cats along one side. They love hanging out and sleeping on top (always perilously close to the edge!). The top of the nook also provides me with some much-needed storage space, so I’m able to store several boxes that I don’t need to access regularly. A huge bonus in this 480 square foot apartment! I love everything about the nook, and I’m incredibly happy with the way it turned out.

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So, with the bones in place, onward to the tour! Here is the new view when you walk through the front door:

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Instead of looking straight into the kitchen, you encounter the nook wall with the aforementioned cat shelves. The curtain that hangs across the right side expands the closet space. As you exit the foyer and turn into the main living space, the first thing you see is the the dining room corner with its ombre wall (have you spotted all three of the animals yet?):

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On the left is the living room with the gold wall, spray painted mirror and the grey shag rug, which is holding up beautifully. The crocheted garland is the very smallest of Christmas decorations. It’s snowed quite a bit over the past few weeks, which I love, but has been inhibiting my spray paint intentions for some found-object holiday decor crafting!

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And to the right is the bed nook. I am entirely smitten with the curtains hanging on the wall. They’re actually two flat sheets from a sheet set, and I used the fitted sheets from the set on the couch, since the dog often chooses to sleep there at night, and the sheets are easy to launder. I did have a set of sheer curtains hanging across the front of the nook, but, well, without malice, my lumbering loaf of a dog accidentally pulled them down one day, and I just haven’t put them back up yet.

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The built-in desk has become my craft table, and the chair was salvaged from a dumpster next to a middle school:

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And here’s the bookcase, which is the first thing I fell in love with in the space. It’s not original; some intrepid college student before me built it in recent years, which definitely sparked my impetus to add my own fingerprint to the apartment. On the bottom shelf, I built a pegboard cabinet door, which holds more craft supplies and conceals stereo speakers that I can connect to my phone with a small aux cable.

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The bathroom is fairly standard. I originally was going to paint it, but with the fixtures and the shelves behind the door, it would have been a meticulous project, so I left it white and added a lot of color with painted wooden frames and new towels.

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Heading into the kitchen, I like to call this the butler’s pantry. The baker’s rack was an inexpensive Home Depot purchase, and I hung more pegboard along the new bednook wall to organize my kitchen accessories. This is really helpful, because the kitchen is the size of a closet.

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Here’s the kitchen on a warm day with the windows open (not the same day as the snow day, because I was in the middle of making stew and the three feet of counters looked like a tornado hit them!) Taking down all the mini-blinds and putting up curtains made such a huge difference to the space. I wrapped them up and labeled them with masking tape before storing them under the bed, so I could make sure they went back on the same windows when I moved out.

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And looking out of the kitchen toward the pegboard. The house was built in the 1860s, and not a single thing is level. If you put a marble down on the floor, it rolls with alarming speed to the outer wall.

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So that’s it! Always a work in progress- the foyer is the next thing I hope to take on soon, but it feels like good. Feels like home.

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35 comments

  1. Kudos to you. Brilliant!

  2. Lovely. I lived in a studio apt with a wbf for seven years and I miss it sometimes. Does your fireplace work? I lived near work and would scoot home at lunch time and make a crockpot dinner. So nice to come home to bubbling soup.

    1. Thank you do much! I’m a huge fan of my crockpot as well! Sadly, the fireplace dies not work, but two apartment ago, I did have a one in another studio. I miss it!

  3. so clever and cozy! well done.

  4. This is truly wonderful! You are a genius!!! You’ve done more with a studio apartment than I’ve done with a house. Do you make house calls, Dr Décor? I love it, and I”m a new fan of your blog (via AT).
    Cheers

  5. And I love it that you have two cats and a dog! What a happy family!

    1. Thank you so much, Jenny! My space might be small, but it would feel completely empty without my creatures. :)

  6. I am in such awe at the space you have and how you’ve decorated it. The bed nook is so creative and unique!

  7. Love the bed nook you have created. It looks so cosy and comfortable. What a great home for the four of you to share.

    1. Thank you! It really is so cosy, and I’m really glad I was able to make this small space functional for our 14(!) feet.

  8. […] up a new level of design potential I have yet to experience as a renter (although I’ve taken a fair amount of leeway with my current studio […]

  9. […] former; I was able to transform that corner of the apartment with very little time or resources. Building the bednook was a project at the other end of that spectrum that required significant time, labor, and […]

  10. The only addition I would make is to have a couple of panels of that fabric tied back near the front of the unit. When I had visitors, I could pull the panels to close off the nook completely. Then visitors wouldn’t have to look at the bed except to admire the construction the first time they came over.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I did have sheer gauzy curtains hanging across the front at first, but the dog accidentally pulled them down! I’ve debated putting more up, but have been erring on the side of making the bed really neatly instead.

  11. This is fantastic! I love it! I’m moving back into my family’s house into a small bedroom so I’m also looking for ideas to turn my soon to be bedroom into a living/working space.

  12. I was hoping to see the steps for the cats on the nook. Do you have a photo you can post?

    1. Hmm, I don’t think I have a picture, I’ll try to take one soon. If you can visualize it, though, I have a 2×4 cube Expedit behind the curtain in the “closet hall”, which is anchored to the nook for stability. I used brackets to attach two shelves, which are boards I painted white, one on the side of the Expedit and one on the nook itself.

  13. Lynda Lien · · Reply

    I love what you’ve done to your small space to make it your home. The bedroom is genius! Excellent job!

    1. Thank you!! It really does feel like home.

  14. secret agent girl · · Reply

    What are the walls made of–plywood? What thickness?

    1. Thanks for stopping by! To keep the nook on the lighter side, the frame is made from 1x3s and the walls are made from thin wood usually used for floor underlayment.

  15. Completely adorable. Your bedroom nook MUST be the most cozy thing ever. Ingenious.

    1. It is! I was a little worried that it would feel dark or cramped, but the lamp reflects in the space beautifully, and it’s a nice little nest. It’s so hard to get out of bed sometimes. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Melissa · · Reply

    Love it. Well done you, this is genius!

    1. Thank you so much!

  17. […] another more home-specific app I should look into? As an aside, I am incredibly thrilled that my bed nook project was featured on Apartment Therapy over the weekend! If you’ve recently come across my blog, I […]

  18. I am going to send this to all of my friends who live in studios!! what a great dad too! :) wonderful job, i am so impressed with your organization skills!
    Jessica

    http://www.Accountingfordesign.com

    1. Thank you! My dad is the best, always willing to help with my big ideas. :)

  19. Such a cute place, I love the wall colors (the powder blue and the light aqua are like my idea of heaven), love that middle school chair too. I’m curious about the reason for the curtains in the bed nook-just cuteness? Also, what do you do with the top of the nook? I know you said you store some stuff up there…does it get dusty? That’s all I would think about, how I really should clean the darn nook top and how I just know I’m never going to get to it.

    1. Thank you so much! Light aqua is definitely my idea of heaven. I hung the curtains in the nook to add color and soften things up. It’s so cozy, and I think it works better in the space than paint would have. And the top of the nook gets super cat furry! I keep maybe four or five boxes up there, all plastic sealed totes, so it’s not too much of an issue. I haven’t added too much because I’ve been extra cautious about the weight, and I don’t want them to show when you look across the room. But the cats sleep all over EVERYTHING!

      1. Cool, thanks! If you got some super cute storage containers (wooden crates or some other funky thing you find in a middle school dumpster), I don’t think it would be annoying to be able to see storage up there. But yeah…I understand the weight-bearing concern. :/

  20. What an amazing job you have done!!!! I just moved into my first apartment which is also my first studio. I haven’t found the personalty for it yet and hate that it doesn’t feel like home. I’m working on it though and am hopefully for the next couple of months! :)

  21. Carole · · Reply

    This is such an awesome space. Congratulations.

  22. Kashona Ryan · · Reply

    May I ask how much this cost around ??

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