tiny new york apartments

Tiny studio apartment decorating ideas have been strong in NYC for some time now. It can sometimes be a struggle to make every square foot count when you have a small space, but new tiny apartment design ideas and solutions have been born from the need to maximize space in tiny New York apartments. Read on to see tips from top interior designers on how to design your micro apartment and lay it out just right.

Challenges of Living in Tiny New York Apartments

micro apartments NYC
Contemporary design by Decorilla interior designer, Drea D.

There is no denying that the main challenge with living in tiny New York apartments is the lack of space. To make it work there needs to be a high level of spatial commitment.

Having minimum storage areas for things can lead to a clutter problem. This only highlights the smallness which can be frustrating and limiting. For this reason, a focus on organization and layout is key. Clever space-saving approaches and an appreciation for minimal living can go a long way in making the experience successful. With that in mind, here is our round-up of essential tiny studio apartment decorating ideas.

1. Storage in Your NYC Apartment

tiny new york apartments bedroom storage

Getting creative with storage is possibly the most important key in tiny New York apartments. There are ample ways to accomplish this in the various areas of your home.

In bedroom

Closets are truly a luxury when it comes to micro apartments NYC. One thing to do is create your own cloakroom with items like a free-standing clothes rack or hanging rods, stacked cubbies, shelves, and baskets. If possible, obstruct your “closet” with a light curtain or sliding doors that have a mirror on them.

To optimize built-in space, consider having cabinets on both sides of a doorway as well as over the door. For hanging accessories, a pegboard with hooks is a great way to keep things off shelves and the floor and on the wall.

Small bedrooms or studio apartments rarely have ample space for an ironing board. As a solution, opt for a mini ironing board that can easily be stored under a bed or hooked on a wall. Another option is a narrow wall mount ironing system or a folding ironing board that fits right into a drawer!

In kitchen

Sliding units are ideal for small kitchens in tiny New York apartments. Vertical pull-out drawers organize and store anything from jarred goods to cutting boards. Empty spaces are prime spaces. Hang cooking utensils with hooks above your stove or a magnetic knife holder for easy access. Installing a simple rod across a window to hang pots and pans makes the most of unused space.

Take advantage of surfaces too! Tops of cabinets and the refrigerator are perfect for baskets to store extra pantry items. The bottoms of cabinets can be designed with hooks to hang mugs or magnetic strips to make a floating spice rack.

In entry

tiny new york apartments entry

To avoid other precious surfaces from being the “catch-all” for keys, mail, and coats, make use of entryway decor. Baskets or hooks hung as you enter are great organizers that will help keep essential things in one place. A narrow console or long floating shelf here can effectively hide and hold small items that can easily clutter the look of a space.

Consider a small bench with storage, a combo of nightstand with coat hooks above, or even a small tray table as possible furniture solutions that are helpful in this area. With many options to choose from, style doesn’t have to be given up at all.

2. Tiny New York Apartments Layout

tiny new york apartments layout

A smart floor plan with a mindful layout of furniture is the map to successfully living in a tiny New York apartment. Think ahead of essential furniture pieces needed and consider clever ways to use space to the maximum.

One way to do this is to design upwards. Loft style layouts are best for dividing areas in effective ways, doubling up on spatial use. A bedroom raised on a higher level allows for both drawer storage options under the stairs and another “room” below. Popular combinations are to have a home office, living room area, or kitchen beneath the loft bedroom.

With spaces beneath staircases, there is a tendency for them to act as clutter magnets. Instead of having one large door to contain things, designing a series of cabinets and shelves add effectiveness to organization.

Using furniture pieces to create separate areas is another way layouts matter. A folding screen can divide a bedroom from the living room while offering a way to hang art or plants on it. A narrow console table sitting between a sofa and kitchen is both a divider and useful surface for a table lamp or chopping area when cooking.

Not sure where to start with your own personal design? Schedule your Free Online Interior Design Consultation to save time and money on your interior design today!

3. Compact Furniture

tiny new york apartments furniture

Micro apartment living depends heavily on clever use of furniture. Selecting pieces with dual functionality is one way to solve space problems. Opt for a convertible dining table that transforms into a coffee table in your living/dining space. Place a tray on an ottoman to act as a side table. Or, put a low cabinet on casters to make for easy movement of what can be a TV console or desk surface. These two-in-one solutions make tiny apartment living easier.

Floating wall shelves are your friend in tiny living room spaces. Install an easy bracket system to hold books and decor. Corner shelving, in particular, makes use of otherwise empty space.

Another thing to consider when selecting furniture for your micro apartment is finishes and style. Examples include:

  • Using mirrors or mirrored pieces. Reflective surfaces make a space feel larger and help bounce around more light
  • Leaning into furniture with a modern flair goes a long way in small spaces. Slim refrigerators and streamlined sofas do not weigh down spaces with their presence
  • Considering minimalist materials like pre-finished oak floors or sleek quartz countertops offer a clean and serene look to a small space

4. Tiny Studio Apartment Beds

tiny New York Apartment beds
Tiny studio apartment bedroom design by Decorilla interior designer, Kate S.

When you live in a tiny New York apartment, making careful selections of essential furniture is a practice. Since one-third of our lives are spent sleeping, beds are considered the most important component in the design. There are several space-savvy and comfortable options that are suitable for small spatial needs.

Standard beds

To maintain the look of a bedroom, having a bed with a headboard or base that offers some kind of storage capacity is helpful. There are many designs that offer built-in drawers within the frame or a platform style that incorporates nightstand options. Bookcase style headboards offer that dual furniture function with space for books, your smartphone, and other helpful bedside items.

Folding sofa beds

One of the most popular tiny studio apartment ideas is finding a double-duty solution that acts as both a sofa and a bed. There are many sofa beds or sleeper sofas that range in ease and style. From traditional pull out beds with the mattress built inside the sofa to more modern folding frame styles, this option allows for limiting bulky furniture. Having one piece serving both sleeping and seating functions keeps a space from feeling overcrowded.


Daybeds have this type of versatility as well. Dressed as sofas by day with accent pillows and throws, they also act as comfy beds for nighttime sleep. Plus, with a choice of metal, wood, or upholstered frames, daybeds can significantly enhance the design style desired.

If converting your daybed daily feels inconvenient, a daybed with a trundle is a creative compromise. This way the top of the daybed can function and look like a sofa and when ready for bed, the trundle slides out for comfy sleep.

Micro apartments NYC layouts
Tiny apartment design ideas by Decorilla interior designer, Rebecca M.

Murphy beds

If the appearance of no bed is the best option in your tiny apartment space, a Murphy bed is a favorite go-to solution. When not in use, this bed basically folds up and disappears into the background. There are Murphy bed designs that optimize functionality with a built-in sofa, shelves, closet, and even a desk.

While more expensive than a daybed, a Murphy bed is a useful investment. When you are ready for a larger home, this can act as a perfect guest bed option.

5. Curtains for Small Spaces

tiny new york apartments dividers

One of the simplest tiny apartment design ideas is the use of curtains. For one thing, they are an inexpensive and nonpermanent way to distinguish areas in an apartment or studio space.

A set of linen or cotton panels can slide across a wall to create a more intimate bedroom setting. Or, carve out a small corner with large floor pillows, pendant lights and a hanging plant to have a reading nook. Some sheer curtains drawn around this area makes it all the more special and intentional. For the design of multiple zones like this it is recommended to choose light plain fabric or a color similar to walls so as to have it blend with surroundings.

With several storage solutions at play, things like open shelving units, racks, and other hanging systems can become a visual overload. These items are useful in organization but can translate as clutter if there are too many. Using curtains not only offer additional storage space, but they keep the areas concealed in a way that is easier to look at.

To add an element of design interest, consider using something other than fabric. Folding screens, hanging wooden beads, or even several window panes not only act as dividers of spaces in a micro apartment but also give off the style desired in the space.

6. Colors for Tiny New York Apartments

tiny new york apartments colors

It is common practice to approach small spaces with light or white colors. These give the allusion of expansivity that is easily attained with paint. It is important to be careful not to lean into stark white since it can make a space feel cold, even unwelcoming.

White tones that pick up a touch of grey, cream, green, or pink are good choices adding warmth and richness to the space. A tiny New York apartment with white walls like this and wooden floors amplifies light, which offers an uplifting and spacious feel.

Does that mean you stay away from dark or bold colors all together? Not necessarily. It is possible that a dark accent wall can make a room look big. For small spaces, the majority of the space (60%) should be a light color. The key is to select the right tone and never paint all the walls in the dark color.

tiny New York apartments living room design ideas
Tiny New York apartments design by Decorilla designer, Darya N.

And for color lovers out there, bold splashes can never go wrong. The key is to pick colors that have personal appeal. So, if emerald green or deep blue inspire, play around with hues through accents, furniture, or even walls.

Still Need Help With Designing Your Tiny Apartment?

Whether you are making a home in a micro apartment NYC, a tiny home, or a house with small rooms, these tiny apartment ideas will help you make the most of your space. Experiment with any of these design solutions or combine them to make the most of your small space. For a professional vision and optimal layout plan, Schedule A Free Interior Design Consultation with a Decorilla designer today!

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