How to Optimise Space in a Studio

Home Stager Naomi Findlay offers her five top tips for buyers and sellers.

The demand for studios continues to skyrocket and when you consider the increasing cost of property and the impressive rental yields studios are fetching, it’s no wonder they are popular with investors and buyers alike. So what’s the trick to making a small space seem bigger?

Well, it’s not as hard as you think. Here are my top tips for transforming a studio apartment, along with a recent case study of a studio she styled, which resulted in a sale price of 35% above the asking price.

1. Cater for dual-zone living

The most important step is to make the space adaptable to two different living modes – “everyday living mode” and “bedtime mode”. Clever furniture choices come into play here.

  • For very small spaces of around 20 square metres, install a wall-bed that folds up to allow for a living room space. If you plan to cater for guests, you can also choose a lounge that can fold down to a bed.
  • Choose multi-purpose furniture such as bedside tables that are light and mobile and can easily double as coffee tables or stools when in ‘lounge room mode’.
  • Using the same principle, you should choose study tables and stools that can also be used as a breakfast bar.

2. Eliminate busyness

Having multiple, contrasting design features in a studio makes it look busy and crowded.

  • Make the floor covering continuous in colour and type to create the feeling of an overall larger floor space – this works to create a more open feel.
  • Aim for the same continuity with wall spaces – this means (if possible) making all ‘paintable’ furniture on a wall the same colour i.e. wardrobes and shelves.
  • Choose furniture that doubles as storage space to remove clutter.

3. Lighten up

Light colours open a room up and give the illusion of more space.

  • Choose light or fresh tones for the walls and furniture.
  • Be clever with your choice of lighting by considering lighting from a functional and mood perspective. You can do this by layering on top of your standard room lighting with floor or table lamps.

4. Consider purchasing custom-built furniture

  • Don’t waste time and energy trying to make standard furniture fit if it just won’t work. It’s very obvious when someone has tried to force things to fit and that will just accentuate the lack of space.
  • Custom-built furniture is not as expensive as you’d think. Your local kitchen manufacturer and cabinetmaker can help with this. If made well, it can actually complement a room perfectly.

5. Inject a bit of sophistication to achieve that ‘wow’ factor

This is relatively easy to do and can transform a space instantly, giving it a modern and fun vibe.

  • Choose the longest wall and make it stand out with high quality, elegantly detailed wallpaper or a coat of richly toned paint. This will help to give the room length and a touch of class.
  • If this is the one feature you splash out on, it will pay off, as it is the main thing eyes will be drawn to upon entering the room.

Case Study

  • Studio of approximately 20 square metres (6.5 x 3.2) in total, with a veranda comprising 4.5 square metres converted to a studio from a hospital dorm.
  • Sale price fetched around 35% more than initial asking price after styling.


  • We installed a wall-bed, which can be easily pulled down and put away as required. Additionally, most of the furniture is mobile and easily adaptable to “everyday living mode” and “bedtime mode”.
  • The existing wardrobes were painted in the same white tone as the walls, not only to modernise them but also to give the space a more seamless look and feel.
  • We chose quality wallpaper imported from New York with a fresh palette and foil detail over the trellis design, which is very on trend. You can of course find quality wallpaper and paint locally.
  • We had a custom-built kitchen island built, which was small yet adequate for one person. By thinking of the lifestyle of the potential buyer, we had hidden wheels added to the island, so that it can actually be easily moved to create more space for entertaining.
Studio Renovations
Renovated Studio

Naomi Findlay started her successful home staging business, SILK Home Staging & Styling, three years ago and is now also the founder of the International Institute of Home Staging (IIHS). IIHS combines her experience in running her own successful home staging business with her awarded expertise in tertiary education. 

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