Just because you live in a space that is a little bit larger than a walk-in closet doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable or unhappy in it. You will need to make some smart furniture purchases, because a couch that works in a suburban McMansion is not going to work in an urban studio apartment.
Picking the right furniture for a small apartment is really just about mindset. While stores like IKEA and Target have good choices for furniture that will work in a dorm room or a studio apartment, you can find suitable furniture for small spaces just about anywhere. You just have to think like a ship’s captain.
Why a ship’s captain? Because the interiors of ships offer the best possible example of good usability and efficient use of space. Anyone who has ever had the good fortune to be on board a large sailboat or even a yacht knows how compact everything is, how much thought goes into how spaces are designed, and how well-built everything is. It becomes very evident that someone put a lot of thought into what was really necessary and then just ignored the things that were not necessary, and made the essentials work.
While you hopefully have more space than a ship’s cabin, thinking with that kind of intention and priority can get you significantly more mileage out of the few square feet that you do have. The first thing to consider is what you want to do when your space. Please don’t just say “Duh. I want to live in it.” Do you like to play video games? Do you like to read? Cook? Do you spend a lot of time in the bathroom or getting dressed so you look your best? Pick 2-3 activities that are really essential to your well-being, and start thinking about how to use your space to let you do those things in the best way possible.
If being well-dressed is really important to you, this may mean using a significant portion of your wall space for a very large mirror. If you like to cook, it may mean expanding your kitchen space with shelves or by hanging pots and hands or by adding a kitchen island. If you like to read, it may mean putting in one large comfy chair so that you could really relax and take in a book.
After you figured out what your essential activities are, you are ready to start going furniture shopping. Try to find pieces of furniture that serve two uses. Storage ottomans are a terrific example, because you can sit on them, use them as a coffee table, and also store things out of sight. Wall shelves and containers are very useful because you may be tight on shelf space and you’re certainly tight on floor space. If you are buying a bed, seriously consider the kinds of beds but you can store things under. Finally, try to go for height — floor-to-ceiling shelving has made the difference in many small apartments and dorm rooms.