Boom boom boom boom! I want you in my kitchen!
April 5, 2014 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving into a charming old studio apartment in 2 months. I don't know where to put my bed or keep my bedroom separate from the 'everything else room.'

Here is the layout of the apartment:
Here is a photo of the kitchen (sorry, only one I have):

I have a full bed and a cheap bed frame with no headboard (my bed is currently pushed against the wall). The bed is on risers and I use the under bed space for storage. I want to keep my bed as physically and mentally separate from the rest of the apartment as possible and am really resistant to using it as extra seating (like a day bed) or lofting it (afraid of heights). I don't have the money to purchase a murphy bed or something similar and to be honest, I'm so lazy that putting the bed up or taking it down every day would be a pain and just wouldn't happen.

Other furniture I currently own:
- dresser (might stick that in the closet with the rest of the clothes)
- desk and chair
- bedside table
- small coffee table
- couple of bookshelves
- oval kitchen table and four chairs
I have a storage unit that I can keep any of this stuff in if I decide not to use it. I don't currently have a sofa/seating, but I'm looking to pick up a loveseat and maybe a chair somewhere for cheap if I can.

When the landlord showed me a couple of the apartments in the building, the current tenants had all put their beds in the dining room and just didn't have a kitchen table. I'm thinking about putting my bed in the dining room, too, but I have a couple of concerns with that:
1. Where do I eat then? I really like to cook, both for myself and friends. I'm usually never cooking for more than 3 people, but I worry that I might miss having a table where we can gather around not only to eat but also play games. I don't think the living room space is large enough to accommodate a TV, seating, desk and chair, bookshelves AND my dining room table. The kitchen itself is tiny and definitely doesn't have room for a table/chairs.
2. What about the smells? I cook with a lot of garlic, onions and spices. I don't want my bed to be permanently infused with whatever I made the night before. Is there a way to cut down on the odors aside from running a fan and lighting candles?
3. How can I keep my unmade bed visually separated from the rest of the apartment? There's no door between the kitchen/dining room and the living room, and I don't want friends to have to see my unmade bed if they go to get something in the kitchen.

Some solutions that I've thought about:
A. Get a air purifier and run that in the kitchen whenever I'm cooking.
B. Hang some curtains up to keep the bedroom separate from the kitchen. I was thinking of using a light fabric so that light could still get through. Not sure how well this would help with the smell problem though.
C. Put the bed in the living room instead. I'm just not sure where. Against the wall shared with the bathroom? Against the wall shared with the kitchen? How can I visually separate my bed from the rest of the stuff in the living room then? I was thinking curtains again, but I don't know how I would hang them.

(Anon because I haven't told my current roommate I'm moving out yet.)
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I tried living with my bed in my studio apartment's kitchen in the past, and found that the irregular noise of the fridge interfered with sleep. Something to think about.
posted by lizzicide at 5:00 PM on April 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apartment Therapy occasionally writes about studio layout ideas. For example here. Some of them do stuff you don't want to (loft bed, extra seating bed), but you might find some inspiration in the others.

You might also find ideas on Pinterest or even just a Google Images search.
posted by lollusc at 5:07 PM on April 5, 2014

Does the bed fit in the large closet area? I can't tell if it's 5'x5' because the squares are sort of rectangular. But if it's big enough, and it doesn't kill you for storage, I'd consider sticking my bed there, putting the dresser etc in the living room.

Otherwise, I would put my bed in the corner of the living room near the bathroom and put up room dividers as close to the bed as possible. It keeps you away from the kitchen (I've done that; it's horrible), and also adds some privacy and separates out the space a bit.
posted by jeather at 5:09 PM on April 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

And as a more direct answer to your question, I would either:

-put the bed in the dining room, screening off the kitchen with curtains if you can figure out how to hang them, and get a smaller foldout table for the living room so you can dine in there.


-put the bed in the living room, maybe along the wall with the bathroom, or along the outside wall, and screen it off with folding screens, like Japanese screens, or the sort people change behind. You can get reasonably priced ones at Ikea, I think.
posted by lollusc at 5:11 PM on April 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would have the bed up against the wall between the living room and bathroom, and then use something like the expedit shelving unit from IKEA to create a sort-of wall. Expedit is popular on the aforementioned Apartment Therapy because it creates a room barrier without blocking light (it's open on both sides and only about 5' tall).
posted by lunasol at 5:12 PM on April 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

You could try putting the bed against the wall with the bathroom and then hanging curtains from the ceiling all the way around the bed. Or a fun printed tapestry like this one.
I think you're going to have to just get in there and move stuff around until it suits you.
posted by bleep at 5:13 PM on April 5, 2014

Could your bookshelves work as a sort of room divider? Or would you be willing to buy something new, like a screen or bookshelves like this? Even though those bookshelves are open, they function as a wall in practice. That might also mean you'd need less under bed storage, depending on what you store there.

Could your bed fit on the wall against the kitchen, so to the right as you walk in? If you put a couple of shelves up there, that'd give you that whole back space as a living area.

You might get some more ideas here.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:15 PM on April 5, 2014

BTW, when I googled expedit, I found this google images search result for "expedit room divider." Lots of interesting ideas there.
posted by lunasol at 5:17 PM on April 5, 2014

In the dining room under the windows, with a curtain hung from the ceiling right up against the bed? You'd have the windows for light and air in the bed, I'd hang a self of some sort for a "bedside" table with a lamp, etc. Then use the other half of the dining room as an office, with the desk and chair (and maybe bookshelves?), and put the table in the living room along with the TV and a small sofa or a couple comfy chairs.

(We use open-backed shelves as a room divider between an office and a rec room, and it's amazing how much visual separation they provide even when they're not all that full.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:25 PM on April 5, 2014

Put your bed along the right wall and then use your bookcases to make another "wall" cutting that area off from the rest of the room, with a tenson rod between the back of the bookcases and the wall with a curtain hanging from it as the "door" to the "bedroom". You may just have to crawl into your bed from the foot but that will allow you to maximize the rest of your living space for non-sleeping activities.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:45 PM on April 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I lived in a studio almost the exact mirror image of this for years. If you can stick your bed in the closet, do it, even if it means moving your clothes out in the living room in some fashion.

You can't do much about cooking smells, but studio living got me to religiously use splatter screens when sautéing anything with oil; it keeps the oil out of the air and keeps it off everything. Studios like that don't have hoods.

The dining room makes a great motorcycle repair bay too.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:47 PM on April 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Buzzfeed has some suggestions.
posted by oceano at 5:59 PM on April 5, 2014

3. How can I keep my unmade bed visually separated from the rest of the apartment? There's no door between the kitchen/dining room and the living room, and I don't want friends to have to see my unmade bed if they go to get something in the kitchen.


My apartment has a stupid, ugly, disgusting "vanity" built in to what used to be a murphy bed closet/stowage area. I wish i could just use it as a closet, but i'm not allowed to remove it. It was always an absolute blight on the room.

Then i had the idea to get one of those rods and hang a wall-colored curtain over it. The entire room looks 1000x better.

In your situation, i'd do the exact same thing. It'll just be a visual barrier and allow airflow through the place if you have the windows open, etc. The curtain+rod was SUPER cheap at bed bath and beyond. i just grabbed one of their markdown off-white curtains that matched my stupid not-quite-white walls and a little tension rod.

By the way, the reason i recommended one of the heavier "hang clothes from" type rods is that the curtain-specific ones are so flimsy and cheap that they'll just break over and over if it's something you open and close constantly.

As for the rest of the question, i personally would never put my bed in the living room. It feels like such a waste of space, and like the entire place is just a bedroom. I hear you on wanting to use the dining room, but if the closet space was too small for a real bed i'd go that route way before i'd put it in the main room in any way. Friends with similar places to yours have always gone the dining room route, but when i was splitting a larger apartment with someone(with no living room, since it was being used as a bedroom) i managed to slightly modify a cheap ikea foam mattress to fit in the closet and i loved it. The bed i chopped a tiny bit was a full, and the closet was about the same size(but a bit narrower). I would really explore that option to the fullest extent here, since from your little map it looks like that might just work.

I actually ended up with a slightly tetris-piece shaped mattress, heh. basically the longest portion of the bed would go in to that area where the closet links up with the bathroom area, and then a portion of one corner gets chopped down. I didn't use a frame, but modifying one of the junky ones i had or making one from scratch would not have been, and is not rocket science.

Throw a garment rack in the dining room or living room, it's kitschy/eclectic! all the cool kids are doing it now. You'll love the whole place a lot more if one of the main areas isn't taken over with a bed. People were always amazed at how "big" my not that big room felt with the bed in the closet like that, and i also had a lot of fun decorating the closet up with various colored lights and stuff. Make it an extravagant bed chamber, have fun with it.
posted by emptythought at 6:00 PM on April 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Another option if you do end up putting the bed in the living room is a Japanese folding screen/panel screen. It'll tuck away easy for when it's just you, but allow you to hide your bed away if you have friends over. Amazon has some options as cheap as $30, but if you're handy you could get some canvas stretchers from an art supply store and then hot glue or staple any fabric that matches your decor.

In re the kitchen issue, I've had some luck setting up a box fan in the kitchen window when I was cooking in a railroad apartment, to help vent smells outside. Face the fan out.
posted by Diablevert at 7:36 PM on April 5, 2014

I saw this sleeping nook idea on Apartment Therapy recently. I like the idea of something like that, maybe with curtains, on the LR wall next to the bathroom.
posted by apartment dweller at 7:55 PM on April 5, 2014

I lived years ago in an apartment that was this one's twin (you're not in Los Feliz, are you?). I tried a range of layouts and ended up liking the bed in the living room one best (though I could have got a very small bed in the closet). But my solution was to get a futon for a bed and only turn it into a bed at nights, using it as an extra couch. Perhaps a bit inconvenient, but I liked it.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:16 PM on April 5, 2014

I would put my bed closer to the bathroom rather than kitchen, as a general rule. The basic idea behind my thinking is that the kitchen tends to be a more active / activating area of the housing -- you get weird smells, there's intermittent appliance noise which disrupts sleep, there are spills and messes you sometimes want to ignore or not see from your bed-space, people like to congregate there during parties, and you will probably walk into and out of the kitchen quite a lot during day, bringing mental distractions and physical dust. Basically, I think putting your bed next to the kitchen will not bring you the peace and quiet you explicitly stated you wanted, even though the dining room technically has four walls around it.

On the other hand, it is possible to carve out a space in your living room for sleeping without making the living room feel like a bedroom. I lived in a situation like this for awhile, and I never interacted with or got into bed unless I was going to sleep. I had the bed against one wall, with two Expedit bookshelves with double rows of books by the head of the bed, and a room divider along the side of the bed. They make lots of room dividers now that don't have to look explicitly Oriental, and you can find them at Home Depot or Target. The Expedits are deep enough shelves that you can also use them as a nightstand with only one row of books on them. Add candles or lights to the bookshelves for a softer atmosphere inside the bed-area. I found I didn't need to have curtains fully drawn around me to feel ensconced in a bed-space; it was okay if the foot of the bed stuck out past the divider.

Then, to construct the living area, put a couch with the back of the couch to the bookshelves, perhaps facing a TV in the other direction (assuming you're a TV person). But if even you have to face the couch towards the bed area, the bed should be masked by the other furniture so it looks like you're facing bookshelves.

Another pro of putting the bed by the bathroom instead of the kitchen is that it's quite convenient to be able to pop into the bathroom in the middle of the night without navigating a couple doorways that lie between you and your bed in the dark.

Another consideration I would take into account is the positions of windows, which I don't see on your diagram. If you can, I would put the bed away from the window, since you sleep better in the dark, and use the windows to illuminate work and living areas. And on the subject of work / living areas -- you don't have to use the dining room as a dining room, even though you have a dining table (you can always Craigslist it). If you want a craft table or desk for studying or exercise bike, get it and put it in the dining room! Then find a thin breakfast or cocktail table you can squeeze in as well. This keeps more active pursuits out of your living room / bedroom and moves them to the dining room / kitchen, which you can't really make into a calmer space anyway.

Last, if you're interested in this more, I highly recommend reading the Apartment Therapy book (it works fine as an ebook since there's no pictures) for understanding the basics of lighting, room purposes, how to feel out what your apartment should be used for, etc.

Oh yeah, and if you can fit the bed in the closet and don't feel claustrophobic about that -- go for it! But I think you have plenty of space to work with even if that doesn't work out.
posted by hyperion at 8:28 PM on April 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about using a panel screen/dressing screen? Or a well-placed book shelf or something to keep the bed visually away from the rest of the apartment?
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:00 PM on April 5, 2014

If there's enough space, I would definitely put the bed in the living room to the right of the door when you come in (with the head of the bed along the exterior wall). You could then add curtains, sliding shoji doors, or a bookcase to divide the space, although I think it might be okay even if you don't. When someone walks in they'll look straight ahead, where you can put more living-room-like things.

For some bookcase inspiration (besides the Expedit, which is great) check out the shelves used in this studio.

For curtain dividers, I recommend getting the hospital rail stuff from IKEA and putting that on the ceiling. You could do that all the way around the bed.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:37 AM on April 6, 2014

If your group is not that formal, you can make the dining room your bedroom (curtained or partitioned), ditch your current dining and coffee tables, get a really big coffee table and use the "sit on the floor for meals and gaming" method. You can even get floor chairs, although we just lean against the couches.
posted by anaelith at 9:02 AM on April 6, 2014

Put the bed against the wall, in the corner by the bathroom. It can be separated from the rest of the living area by a bookcase. I'd do one that was on the short side, and put the TV on it. That way you can watch TV from the living room or from bed. You can make it L shaped by putting the dresser at the foot of your bed, or another matching bookcase there.

If you'd rather segment the bed off with a curtain, you can get some pretty cool systems at Ikea for that. They have a track system that goes into the ceiling.

The desk goes against the wall by the door. Great for capturing the crap you put down right as you get through the door.

You can hang the TV from the wall if you like and then go some small seating for the living area.

There are some neat Ikea hacks on this blog, just search studio apartment.

That is a WONDERFUL apartment! Have fun with it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2014

Make the dining room into the living room. Put your dining table just inside the front door. Put your bed against the black wall of the living room with a divider/privacy screen between the bed and the dining table. Living room becomes bedroom/dining room. Dining room becomes living room. Just make sure you have a good clear path from front door to what is now living room.
posted by raisingsand at 12:12 PM on April 6, 2014

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