Skip to main content

Interior Designer Transforms a Small 300 sqft Studio Apartment

Today Architectural Digest welcomes back interior designer Darren Jett for a new edition of Re:Design. Today he is offering his expert advice on a real studio apartment in serious need of transformation. At just 300 sqft, watch as he gives tips on how to invite space, light, and personality into such a small space.

Released on 10/17/2023


Right now, the flow of the space is not working.

The wine rack over here is not working.

The console over here is not working.

The rug's gotta go.

It's all dark and it's not working.

I'm Darren Jett.

I'm an interior designer.

Today I'm going to show you how to transform a small

dark studio apartment into a bright and airy space.

This is redesign.

[upbeat music]

So this is Sarah, and this is Sarah's apartment.

Studio apartments are very small.

They typically are one room, so you have the

living area and the bedroom area all in one space.

You're lucky if the kitchen is separated and

you're really lucky if the bathroom is also separated.

So Sarah comes to us with a rather unique challenge, right?

Her studio is dark, it's crammed, and it's not inviting.

Sarah, like all of us

wants a place that is bright, light, airy

and feels really good.

I think that we're gonna be able to achieve

exactly what she wants.

The first thing we need to tackle is the furniture.

It's very easy for a studio apartment to start

to look cramped, and when things start to look cramped

you start to feel cramped.

[upbeat music]

Now we're getting crafty.

I get so stressed out from these photos.

I really just want to take all

of these items away and end up with a nice blank space.

This apartment is 300 square feet.

Every piece of furniture, every decision that you do

everything has to have multiple purposes.

I think that she really has to rethink the sofa and the bed.

You can really see here that the bed is taking up about 25

30% of the floor area in the apartment.

You can also see that the bed is right

by the kitchen getting all of the fumes from cooking.

You can also see it's right by the window, which blocks all

of the lights that comes into the apartment.

What I want to do is actually combine the sofa

and bed together and have this be one unit.

I'm gonna make the case for a daybed.

[upbeat music]

A daybed is really a sofa that's actually deeper.

This is not something that you find in your college dorm.

This is something that's beautiful.

It has beautiful lines, but you know, it has a sort

of mattress pad on top that you sit on whenever

you're watching TV or you have friends over, and then

in the evening you pull out the pillows and you pull

out the blanket that goes on top and that's where you sleep.

It is something that would benefit her life drastically

you know?

And then I want to think about, okay, so she had sort

of dining table situation that was kind of awkward.

Let's take the idea of that dining table and make it a sort

of dining table slash desk and put that by the window to

capture all of that beautiful light coming in,

in the sort of daybed area here.

This sort of living room, bedroom moment right here

in this corner.

Keep the coffee table.

Also have a very small chair for an extra guest, right?

Have a slipper chair.

The slipper chair is something that can easily

be moved around.

So look how much better this already feels.

She has so much more floor area around here.

I can see myself doing a little bit of work by the window.

I would get a lot more work done in that situation.

Let's get into how dark this apartment is.

[upbeat music]

So Sarah has an apartment that only has two windows.

You can see in the kitchen, there's a very

small window here that's you know, pretty far back.

But look how much light is actually casting

off into the apartment.

Look at the window that's actually closer

into the apartment right by the bed.

Where does that light land?

It lands on top of the bed.

So you get absolutely none

of that reflection coming into the apartment.

You also want to have mirrors that reflect the

light back out, right?

I think there's not too much space for her to do that.

So an idea that we have here is to actually mirror the top

of the coffee table, which would not only

reflect the light coming in from the window

but also reflect the light that we'll have in the ceiling.

I would like to really think about emphasizing that window.

We have one window, but when you have a mirror next

to one window, you suddenly have two windows.

If we have a sort of mirrored screen, perhaps

think about if you start to fold that mirror screen

how that light would start to bounce into the apartment.

Listen, if you have dark furniture in your apartment

it's going to suck up all the light.

We have a dark piece of furniture here.

We have a dark coffee table here, a dark rug, this and this.

It's all dark and it's not working.

Look, there's nothing wrong inherently with black furniture

but I think if you're working

within a space that is very small with one window

and you were trying to make it light, bright and airy

the black furniture is doing you no favors.

All the furniture we're going to be giving Sarah

it's all going to be light and bright.

I think a lot of us, we know whenever we move into

an apartment how the walls are not actually quite white.

It's sort of this funny rental white.

I always liken it to like a cigarette tooth.

You know, like it's like it should be white

but it's like a little off.

Sarah, invite your friends over for a night.

Order some pizza, make a martini.

Have your friends just like help you paint.

My favorite white is Benjamin Moore, decorator's white.

It's a very beautiful color.

It's very simple, it's very palette cleansing.

It's a great background for everyday life, and

that's how to make a dark apartment lighter and brighter.

[upbeat music]

So the next thing, she needs more storage.

One thing that Sarah has done really well is to organize all

of the items along this wall, but I simply just

wanna give her an upgrade.

So if we imagine that this wall here is this wall

right here, what I would do is maintain these sort

of divisions amongst the space, right?

So let's say this zone is for all the items that the kitchen

needs to have.

The kitchen's so small, so let's have some more storage

for the kitchen so it's more organized.

Next to that, we would have just honestly more storage

for her.

She's clearly giving glamour, she's giving jewelry

she's giving clothes.

She really needs to have more space for her.

And in this zone over here by the daybed, what we'll do

I'll actually have this as more of the entertainment zone.

Maybe she'll have her TV mounted

on the wall, maybe beneath that, she'll have

the extra things that she doesn't need all the time

like her weights or her yoga mat.

We buy shelving systems and drawers that work for our needs.

Let's take the stuff outta the dresser.

We'll put it here.

We'll have a section below for all of her shoes.

We'll even get an extra rod.

I would love to have more hanging myself.

And then in front of that, you would drape it

with a beautiful curtain that you can easily open

up as you need.

Look at this.


Ah, I wanna watch TV.

Ooh [Darren laughing]

Sarah's last issue is that the space is not inviting

and I think what we have to do now is to make it feel

like Sarah.

So it feels very inviting for everyone.

When I look at this place

I really start to feel who Sarah is.

You know, I'm noticing a few

of these interesting elements here

that they have a natural material to them

or sort of natural handmade quality to them.

I think these pillows are a really great example of that.

You see the little fringes that are happening here.

Okay, let's pull from that.

You have the quilt

which has the same exact language going on.

These vase is up here that are very natural

very beautiful, very simple, organic forms.

We're going to really dive a bit more

into this natural world.

Let's get a bigger rug for Sarah.

A rush rug is a rug that is typically a natural material.

So you know, you have jute, you have hemp, you have sissel.

Not only is it something that is very soft underfoot

it'll make the apartment feel very cozy

and feel very inviting

but it'll really tie everything together.

We're going to think

about the woods in the apartment, being a lighter wood.

We're also going to, you know

take some of the plant life up here

in the window and bring that more into the space.

Think about all the plants that she could have, right?

Sarah's like, I want to have a green apartment.

I wanna have greenery in this space.

So if you have, you know, enough space around the window

she could have even more plants around there to

really give her some life in the space.

Sarah seems to be a very smart person

and I've given her a very smart space to match that.

[upbeat music]

After all of that

here's a beautiful rendering of Sarah's apartment.

You can see that when you walk into the door

you have this beautiful daybed off to the left

in a sort of nice seating arrangement right there.

Just beyond that, where the window formally blocked all

of the light is a great desk that become a dining area.

Whenever she gets people over, adjacent to that

you can see the mirror that bounces all

of that light back into the space.

It's light, it's bright

it's sophisticated, and it's Sarah.

Do you want advice on your space?

Submit in the description below.

[light upbeat music]