How to Decorate a Studio Apartment, According to One Couple Who Made the Small Space Work

Take a cue from this stylish couple and turn your apartment into a tiny gem

Monica Shim

Countless couples fill their wedding registries with all the gorgeous decor pieces and must-have kitchen supplies they've always dreamed of adding to their newlywed home. But if your newlywed home is a studio apartment, filling and styling your space can get tricky. Decorating a studio apartment can be as difficult as cohabiting in one. Both require a bit of ingenuity, patience, and compromise. But you and your love can totally make a small space work—trust us! Just take a cue from this stylish couple who turned their studio apartment into a tiny gem.

For Anne Sage and Ivan Juarez-Mrazek, moving in together happened quickly—and it all began with laundry. “When we first started dating, "I was doing a 60-day Bikram yoga challenge",” says Anne. “"He had a washer and dryer, so I just started washing all my sweaty clothes at his place. And then we were living together".” The couple had been friends for several years before they started dating and got married in 2017, so the transition felt natural. She'’s a creative Jill-of-all-trades (@citysage) with a home decorating business and has brought her talents to their light-filled, 900-square-foot rental in East L.A.

They don'’t own it, but that hasn't stopped them from putting their stamp on it. “"We have an awesome landlord who let us renovate our kitchen and even paid for the labor",” says Ivan, who works in marketing. The house is filled with tiny (and affordable!) upgrades, like old doorknobs swapped out for stylish new ones. “"It’'s such an easy way to personalize a space",” says Anne. “"We like to try stuff out, and if it doesn't work, that’s okay too!"”

So how did this couple combine styles in a small space? Anne says, "We didn't have a ton of stuff to combine because I had already gotten rid of so many things when I shifted my home base from San Francisco to L.A. That said, when I officially moved in, it was kind of like my style was a virus that slowly took over. His place was very charming, and I could tell he had tried, but there were a lot of bachelor choices. It was like, “'Oh, that chair is very brown.”'"

"Our current space really fits our needs. Right now, it’s just the two of us with our pets, so it’'s perfect," Ivan adds. "I love how all the beautiful details really pop. Our house is small, but because of the thoughtful design, it'’s inviting and reflects our values as a couple."

Below, see Anne and Ivan's top tips for decorating a studio apartment as a couple.

01 of 05

Utilize White Backdrops

Monica Wang Photography

Their kitchen was renovated with white subway tile and pale wood to create a bright and airy workspace. "Its our favorite place to hang out together", Anne says. Brass hardware and black appliances contrast with the floor's matte gray tiles set in a herringbone pattern.

02 of 05

Get Cozy With Curated Rugs and Pillows

Monica Wang Photography

A small walkway off the kitchen became a cozy nook when they brought in a bench and sheepskin from Ikea, pillows from McGee & Co., and a vintage rug.

03 of 05

Make Smart Fabric Choices

Monica Wang Photography

Designer Martha Mulholland helped to create a chic, yet cozy living space for the couple. Their midcentury-modern-style sofa is covered in a durable, stain-resistant Crypton fabric that's perfect for pets.

04 of 05

Incorporate Inexpensive, Vintage Finds

Monica Wang Photography

Vintage candlesticks and an upright piano from Craigslist are paired with a modern mirror from CB2.

05 of 05

Keep Clutter at Bay

Monica Wang Photography

A smaller space requires some serious decluttering on both your parts. As Anne says, "I'm the sort of person who really dislikes clutter. Having a smaller home really demands that I keep my hoarding tendency at bay because I can go hard on ceramics." Keeping clutter at bay will ensure a comfy, cozy space for you, your love, and even your pets!

This story originally appeared in the February/March 2019 issue of Brides, on stands starting December 18.

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