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How to Decorate a Studio Apartment on a Budget

Scandinavian minimalist studio apartment with fiddle leaf fig tree
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).

Last year, I rented the cutest little studio. It was a 400-square-foot cottage house (above a garage). I had a tight budget, though, and I wanted to furnish the entire unit for under $2,000 in a Scandinavian minimalist style.

Below, I show you how to decorate a studio apartment on a budget, including photos and links to the EXACT furniture and decor I bought.

Tips on How to Decorate a Studio Apartment on a Budget

  • Create separation with bookcases and plants.
    Studio apartments are just one continuous room, so you really have to work hard to create “walls” where none exist. You can create separation with bookcases, tables, even plants.
  • Use rugs to create more separation.
    Another way to separate one space from another is to use area rugs. For example, I put a large area rug in my living room area, which made it feel separate from my kitchen, even though, in reality, they were right next to each other with no walls separating them.
  • Use mirrors to expand the space.
    The other challenge with studio apartments is that they tend to be small. To make the space appear larger, use tall mirrors.
  • Opt for light colors, especially for the walls.
    Dark colors make the walls feel closer. If you want your space to feel brighter and larger, use light colors. If I could have, I would have painted my walls white, but I rather liked the light yellow color.
  • Opt for metals and plastics when you can.
    Buying hardwood furniture is expensive. Try opting for metals and plastics when possible, or even laminate wood.
  • Shop used, like on Facebook Marketplace or Craiglist.
    Buying used furniture can save a lot of money when decorating your studio apartment. Try Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
  • Use multi-purpose and foldable items when you can.
    Another way to decorate a studio apartment on a budget is to buy multipurpose pieces. For example, a cute stool from IKEA can double as a nightstand AND a seat—genius!

Before and After Photos of My 400-Square-Foot Studio Apartment: A Blank Canvas!

LIVING ROOM BEFORE

LIVING ROOM AFTER

LIVING ROOM VIEW 2 BEFORE

LIVING ROOM VIEW 2 AFTER

KITCHEN BEFORE

KITCHEN AFTER

Everything I Bought to Furnish and Decorate My Studio Apartment in Scandinavian Minimalist Style

UTÅKER Stackable Bed

Okay, yes, it’s a twin-sized bed, but it doubles as TWO pieces of furniture. I used one as a bed and the other as a sofa.

UTÅKER as a bed
UTÅKER as a couch

Throw Pillow Inserts

Every Scandi/minimalist/airy space needs fairy lights! They brighten up a room in a pinch and give it a magical touch. And they’re super cheap. These 66-foot string LED fairy lights are great because they don’t use up a lot of energy, and they give off a warm yellow glow. I strung these underneath my bed to make it glow at night. I also used them to wrap around the railing to the stairs leading up to my apartment.

HOT TIP: Whatever the size is of your pillowCASES, buy PILLOWS that are TWO INCHES larger. This helps the throw pillows, when put together, look more fluffy. Otherwise, the pillowcases look too big and sag.

I bought these four 20-inch pillow inserts for my 18-inch pillowcases (see next item).

Retro Modern Wood Writing Desk

The clean lines and bright white top of this wood writing desk make for the perfect Scandinavian minimalist furniture piece. This desk fit perfectly into a corner of my studio apartment and paired nicely with a mid-century modern Eiffel chair.

Mid-Century Modern Eiffel Chair

😍 Eiffel chairs are ALL the rage in the interior design world, and they’re a must-have in any Scandi home. This is the kind I bought.

Decorative Throw Pillowcases (Set of 4)

The black-and-white, clean designs on these pillowcases were PERFECT for the Scandi look I was going for. They are 18×18 inches, which is why I bought 20×20 pillows to fit inside them. And they fit together perfectly! The pillows were nice and plump with no saggy edges.

NuLOOM Trellis Shag Rug

I LOVED this rug. It didn’t shed like most shag rugs do. It didn’t come with a chemical smell. And it really made the room feel more cozy.

Lack IKEA Coffee Table

Yes, the Lack IKEA table is simple. But it does the job. It’s extremely easy to put together (you just screw the legs on), and I like its understated-ness. Pile your favorite books on top, and it looks great!

20-Cube Modular Wire Stacking Bookcase

This is a great example of THREE tips I mentioned above:

  • Buying things made of wire/metal
  • Buying multi-purpose items
  • Using bookcases to create separate spaces in a studio apartment

To get a bookcase that’s this size, I would’ve spent over $100. But these modular stacking cubes are lightweight (easy to move into and out of an apartment!) and can be used in multiple ways. You can build the kind of bookcase you want, and then you can use the other cubes for storage elsewhere.

Also, I LOVED being able to use this to create a “bedroom.” It created enough separation between the corner where my bed was and the living room, so it felt like retreating to my own little sleeping space at night, even though there was no wall.

LUCID 5-Inch Memory Foam Gel Mattress (Twin-Sized)

A mattress can easily be one of the BIGGEST expenses when you’re furnishing an apartment. Save money by skipping the traditional spring mattresses and nixing the unnecessary box spring (seriously, what purpose do those serve anyway?).

I saved money by purchasing this super comfy memory foam gel mattress. I LOVE the way it feels: nice and plush/squishy instead of hard like those typical spring mattresses feel. It’s also very lightweight, which again, makes it easy to move into and out of an apartment.

Lofe Bed Pillows, Extra Plush Goose Down Alternative

I love me a plush, fluffy pillow. These pillows are wonderful because they’ve got extra filling and a zipper, so you can take out the filling if it’s too much for you (for me, the amount was perfect).

Hönsbär Down Comforter

To me, this was the perfect down comforter for Florida: In the winter, it kept me warm; in the spring, it kept me cool.

Puderviva Linen Sheet Set

Okay, this was the first time I owned linen sheets, and let me tell you: Sleeping in linen sheets is the PEAK of luxury! They breathe better, so you don’t get all sweaty at night. It keeps you cool, especially if you live in a hot and humid climate like Florida’s. I am a big fan, and I will forever want linen sheets wherever I sleep!

Over-the-Door Hooks

Great space-saving hack! Instead of installing towel racks or wall hooks, just buy these over-the-door hooks, and you can move them around anytime you’d like.

66-Foot LED Fairy Lights

Faux Marble Bar Dining Table

Light of my life! Pride of my home! This fancy faux marble dining table was, by far, my most favorite thing I bought. It also took over 2 hours to assemble, so I WORKED for that thing!

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