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12 Tips for Living Well in Your Loft or Studio

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12 Tips for Living Well in Your Loft or Studio

Short on storage? No separate bedroom? Here's how to maximize space and turn your loft or studio into a home that suits you to a T

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No matter the size, lofts and studio apartments have more in common than not. Nearly all lofts and studios are short on built-in storage, need furniture scaled just-so, and then of course there is the bed-in-the-living-room to contend with. Read on for 12 tips for planning your space for maximum comfort, style, and flexibility.
1. Plan a cohesive color scheme. When you can see your entire living space in one sweep of the eye, having colors that all work together is key. There is something about looking at a space where the colors are in harmony that makes the entire space feel neater, cleaner and more pulled together.

2. Consider how your furniture goes together. An eclectic look can work well, as long as it's intentional — having a tight color scheme, as described above, helps. If you are feeling unsure, sticking with one furniture style, like midcentury modern, is a great way to pull your whole space together.
3. Use lighting at different heights. Use pendant lights hung lower where you want to create a more intimate feel — over the dining table and over a sitting area, for instance. Hang them higher in more "public" spaces like the entry hall and kitchen work zones.

4. Define "rooms" with area rugs. It's one of the oldest tips in the book, but it's still worth repeating because it works. The most common mistake is using area rugs that are too small for the space. Ideally, choose rugs large enough that all of the furniture in the arrangement fits on top of it; you can always layer a smaller rug on top to add color and softness. In the dining room, get a rug big enough that you can pull your chair out from the table without bumping over the edge of the rug.

11 Area Rug Rules and How to Break Them
5. Set up proper storage. Closets tend to be in short supply in lofts and studios. Build in your own storage by taking over one entire wall for the purpose. Fill the wall from floor to ceiling with shelving, cabinets or closets. Even if the cost seems high, this is something that makes life easier and more pleasant every day, so it's well worth it in my book.
6. Divide space with open-backed shelving. One of the easiest ways to create a room-within-a-room is by using open-backed shelving placed perpendicular to the wall — and it works equally well in small and large spaces. The trick is to arrange open shelving so that it looks good from both sides. Stack books horizontally rather than vertically; place items in baskets that look good from all angles; and mix in plenty of pretty objects such as vases, candles and bowls. Also be aware of safety: if you have young children, or live in earthquake country, you will need to secure the shelving to a wall and/or the floor.
7. Add casters for flexibility. The storage piece shown here holds a library on one side, and wardrobe on the other — and because it is on casters, the entire unit can be twirled around or moved aside easily. While there are some great pieces on the market with casters, they can also be added to nearly any piece of furniture you already have. Think about how handy it would be to simply wheel your sofa, bed or bookshelf out of the way in a matter of minutes!
8. Use innovative, flexible furnishings. When space is at a premium, smart, space-savvy designs are here to help. Think fold-up Murphy beds, disappearing pocket doors, modern sofas that convert to spare beds and adjustable height tables for dining and lounging.
With the Murphy bed and sliding door shown in the previous photo folded away, this petite studio apartment manages to look light and spacious — and allows the bed space to be used for another purpose.
9. Choose the right scale. Appropriately scaled furniture can make the difference between a space that feels awkward and one that feels comfortable and homey. In a small space, choose the largest pieces you can while allowing ample room to walk around them. Pieces that are too small will only feel uncomfortable. In a large space, go bigger with the furniture — but keep it human-scale. Some sofas and chairs on the market today are so humongous that an average person is swamped sitting in them!
10. Install a loft bed. A great way to maximize vertical space and create privacy is to have a loft space built for your bedroom. Carefully consider whether you will feel comfortable using a ladder on a daily basis before committing — stairways eat up more space, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, it could be worth it. On the other hand, if you are creating a sleeping loft for kids or don't mind using a ladder yourself, a space-saving ladder can be a real blessing!
11. Use curtains to soften edges and create privacy. Hang curtains to create a room where there is none, bringing privacy to the bedroom area or creating a more intimate sitting room. You can also cover large expanses of windows with floor to ceiling drapes that can be pulled shut for warmth and privacy or opened to let the light flow in.
12. Take advantage of ample wall space with a gallery wall. A huge wall can be daunting, but it also provides a great opportunity to make a style statement. You don't need to fill the entire wall at once. Start building your arrangement from the center out, and you can continue adding to it over time until the wall is happily full.