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How to conquer a no-storage studio, and other small-space decorating tips from design blogger Jacqueline Clair

By Jacqueline Clair  | August 1, 2016 - 1:59PM

In a city filled with enviably grand and gorgeous apartments, it's easy to feel like an also-ran if you can't afford much more than a studio or one-bedroom. But just because you're relegated to a small space doesn't mean you can't live large. Here's how to make your apartment spacious and stylish without sacrificing function:

Step 1: Divide and conquer

Folding screens sourced from antique stores or flea markets are a beautiful way to separate your sleeping area from your entertaining space. But if function has to be married with form, opt for a bookcase like Ikea's Kallax model (see below), which provides tons of storage and acts as a clear separation while allowing light to filter through the entire space.

Step 2: Opt for double-duty furniture 

The aforementioned Ikea Kallax bookshelf fits this bill, too, but plenty others can, too. If you can’t fit a dining table in your apartment, look for a desk that has enough surface area for eating. A desk can also sit bedside and serve as a night table, and a dresser can double as a TV stand. ( has a great how-to for making your own chest/filing cabinet/coffee table.)

Triple-duty chest/filing cabinet/coffee table from

Step 3: Think outside the closet box

Whittling down your belongings is essential, but once that’s done you simply need to get a little clever to maximize your storage options. Baskets are your friend in a New York City apartment! A basket under your coffee table can hold anything from papers to clothing to handbags, and one beside your couch can serve as an attractive storage solution for extra throw blankets. A hanging shoe rack can hold scarves and gloves (as well as shoes), and trays placed on tables can "frame" beloved items you want to show off while storing them, too.

Step 4: The bathroom is no afterthought—pretty it up!

In a small apartment every space counts, so don’t forget to make the bathroom functional, organized, and beautiful. A simple and lovely shower curtain can go a long way toward setting a stylish or serene tone, as do matching towels (especially if they are out on display due to lack of cabinet space). Use baskets to corral beauty and hair products, and clear jars for things like Q-tips and cotton balls.

Step 5: Work it

When living in a small space, it’s easy to get so bogged down trying to fit everything in that you forget to make the space your own. Your home should feel comfortable and welcoming, reflecting your personality and bringing you joy just by being there. How can you achieve this? Inject your style into your space, no matter how small or temporary it may be, with accessories: throw pillows, pictures, favorite books, lamps, candlesticks—the things you love. These small flourishes make a huge difference in how a space feels, and best of all, you can pack them with you when it's time to move to a bigger and better space.

Jacqueline Clair writes about interior design, fashion and NYC living on her blog, York Avenue.

***This story first posted on September 30, 2015.


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