Furnishing a small apartment.
December 13, 2009 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Help me furnish and decorate my new small studio apartment.

My new apartment is a small (22.5 m²~ 240 square feet) studio apartment. Pictures and floorplan here. The living area is approximately 260cm by 430cm. The fixed cabinets are both 60cm wide and the gap between them is 140cm wide.

What I need is a decent sized bed, preferably at least 120cm wide (I'm not picky; I could sleep on a sofa bed IF it's good enough), a good desk and some chairs for the kitchen table. What I would also want is enough room to occasionally seat about 4 people in comfort and possibly for watching movies from the computer screen. The table could also fit just enough chairs to also seat 4. Storage-wise I should be good with the existing storage with the exception of a bookcase and possibly some desk drawers. If there was enough room and a place to hide away a gaming table that is 120x180cm and is disassembled into a package measuring 120x60 plus some legs, it would be perfect, but that is not really necessary.

And since the apartment is new and shiny, I'd like the furniture to also at least not be ugly so something that fits the apartment would be nice.

My budget is basically big enough for Ikea stuff or any alternative at a similar price point. (Note that I am in Finland). I already have some Anssi bar stools suitable for the table and an black Expedit bookcase. The rest of my old furniture is either something I'm looking to replace or is just too clunky for this place and I'm not married to the bookcase either.

Any tips, tricks or input are appreciated. How would you decorate this place given these requirement or without them?
posted by Authorized User to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You might find Ikea Hacker helpful, lots of clever space-limited solutions there.
posted by Locobot at 2:38 PM on December 13, 2009

I love my LLBean ultralight sleeper chair. It gives you a lot more function for your space, and is a wonderful place to curl up with a book!
posted by aquafortis at 2:40 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was in a small apartment during college, it had a variation on the slide-away bed, except that it didn't fold up to become a couch, just slid halfway under a storage corner-unit so there was seating area. it was quite comfortable, but I'm not sure that the fold in this one that allows the top to become a sofa back wouldn't complicate things. If you could find something similar in Finland, you'd be wise to try before buying.
posted by path at 2:54 PM on December 13, 2009

I'm an architect AND I've lived in a tiny apartment, so I'm pretty confident about the advice I'm giving here ;-)

If a murphy bed is something you would consider, go for it - some even have a desk underneath. They are expensive, though, and you want quality - stay away from the cheap ones, as that means lower grade hardware.

A high bed that has storage underneath is a good idea. You can use a regular bed frame over wooden boxes that open to the sides. You can store shoes there, or linens, or wine.

If you are willing to use the same piece of furniture for sleeping and seating, all the better. Multi-functionality goes a long way in tiny spaces. Ikea's Beddinge series is the best value for the money, and you can even add a storage box underneath. If you choose that, I recommend going for the top of the line mattress, because you will be using it a lot and the cheapest ones will sink in no time. When open they are a decent size bed, and when closed they can seat four people, depending on what kind of arm-cushions you pick.

It's very important, when the floor plan is so small, to think in terms of above and underneath. A side table of coffee table can have storage underneath, like the bed. Box shelves are decorative, modern, and can serve as above-ground storage for anything from glasses to your everyday gloves and scarves.

A common mistake when people furnish small apartments is to go for very small furniture. You must mind your dimensions, of course, but keep in mind that those extra 30cm may be more useful in the bed or sofa than as free floor space. The place is already tiny, you can't afford to not be comfortable when you're resting or seating.

Avoid the temptation to paint one wall a different, bolder color. You want all walls to be as uniform as possible, one continuous color. Not blocks. On the other hand, the place is tiny enough that there's pretty much nothing you can do to make it "seem" bigger, so you can use a nice, not-so-neutral color if it pleases you Just be careful about the brightness - the more muted tones are best - and remember to paint the whole space (you can leave the kitchen out) the same color. Some suggestions: warmer beige, greenish grey, or a lighter version of this blue.

Good luck in your shiny new place!
posted by Opal at 3:43 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take a look at www.apartmenttherapy.com's Smallest Coolest entries for ideas. You should be able to find previous years' entries as well in the archives. Ikea Hacker is a great site.
posted by jgirl at 4:09 PM on December 13, 2009

I would stay away from sofa-beds or futons, they are just not that comfortable for nightly sleeping. I'm not sure how bed sizes run where you live (assuming your profile is updated and you still live in Finland) but I would avoid getting what is called a "double/full" bed here...I find that it's big enough for two but not quite enough to be comfortable. You're better off with the next size up, which is a queen.

In terms of storage, think vertical! Tall pieces will help you maximize your available space. Also get some underbed rolling storage bins.

When I lived in a studio, I had enough space for both a bed and a couch, which I liked because I wasn't crazy about people hanging out on my bed all the time. I put the TV on a "lazy-suzan"-type spinny thing so I could watch it in bed or on the couch.
posted by radioamy at 7:14 PM on December 13, 2009

I lived in a similarly tiny apartment for 3 years, and "invented" a couple of neat solutions for myself:

Do you need a permanent dining table? I nested my dining table underneath my work/computer desk, and stuck wheels to the two innermost legs of the dining table. This way it can be rolled in and out for when you need it, instead of taking up permanent space. Ikea has a number of solutions for this in their "mix and match" tabletop/legs/wheels department.

If you insist on having a designated bed AND a couch, which I did, you may want to think about placing the bed behind the couch. This way the couch basically takes up the empty "getting out of bed" space. It means you need to crawl into the bed from the footend (depending on the length of your couch), which was never a problem for me but YMMV.

Like someone else said, think vertical! Tall shelves with neat boxes for storage and wall mounted things will be helpful. But try not to make too many permanent choices just yet, because once you start living in it you will have "aha" moments and want to move things around.

Oh and a word of wisdom: The skinniest Ikea Lack shelf can fit anywhere. I managed to squeeze one in between the toilet and the wall. Score.
posted by heytch at 10:58 PM on December 13, 2009

Consider lighting first. I find that nice, vintage ceiling fixtures are plentiful on Ebay. They give your apartment a lot more character than you get from the mass produced stuff available from the big box stores.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:06 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

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