Style lessons from Scandinavian studio apartments

Style lessons from Scandinavian studio apartments
written by Renee Rutgrink

In Scandinavia there are a lot of people who have lived in a studio apartment at some point in their lives. Due to fairly generous social welfare provisions, free university tuition, and a culture of familial independence, most Scandinavians leave home in their late teens or early twenties and often have their own place, however small. Perhaps that’s why they get ahead of the rest of us in their expertise for small space designing. 

Whether you’re young and single, a pensioner or a couple with a baby, there are some design principles we can observe from Scandinavian studios that can make a single room work for you.

The secret is designing around your lifestyle and incorporating multifunctional furniture that can keep clutter under control and out of sight.

Design an entry space even if there isn’t one

When you live in one room, you have to ‘fake’ it, inventing rooms within the room. It’s about allocating functions the way you would have in a bigger home.

An entryway sets the tone for the space and most importantly, organisation of the apartment, so is a worthwhile functional space to build into your studio.

It can be as simple as a coat or shoe rack as in this Copenhagen home.



 Image credit: HomeDesignLover

Use a mirror to open up the space and reflect natural light to create the illusion of more space.

scandi_style_hallwayImage Credit: Coco Lapine

Even if space is tight, there is usually always room for a couple of hooks on the wall or a bench. Amp up the ‘hygge’ with natural wood teamed with a touch of living greens. Some box shelves or floating oak drawers could be a useful addition for keys or trinklets.


 Image credit: Kreavilla

A radical approach is going all out with colour as this black box entryway does. In this 45m2 studio apartment, the designer goes all out on a black and white minimalist theme, clearly defining the entry hall from the rest of the white apartment.


Image credit : Karolina Krac

Check out our Pinterest Board for loads more inspo

Bed options

In a studio space there’s three options; allowing the bed to be a major component of the space, partitioning a bedroom space, or incorporating multifunctional solutions such as sofa or loft beds.

Sofa beds might seem juvenile, but there are functional, supportive sofa beds on the market that don’t necessarily compromise on aesthetic



Image credit: Bedrenætter

Or you can really space save with a foldaway wall bed. That’s how my grandmother once accomodated 4 boys in a tiny two bedroom apartment! I’m sure they’ve come a long way since then, and Apartment Therapy gives you the lowdown on the ‘Murphy Bed’.


Image credit: Apartment Therapy

Loft beds don’t just have to be for teenagers, and styling goes a long way to making them adult.

Don’t skimp on bedlinen and keep the look simple. Scandinavian white makes these loft beds disappear seamlessly into the rest of the room.


Image credit: Alt Om Indretning


Image credit: Stine Christiansen


If you have the option, built-in storage solutions are a must for keeping all your stuff out of sight. Storage solutions are worth chewing up a bit of your precious square meterage.

Consider an extensive multifunctional storage solution and complement it with small, bespoke pieces throughout the rest of the studio.


Image credit: Bettina Holst

Or use a wardrobe as a room divider.


 Image credit: Dennis Peterson

Hanging racks for clothes are a simple, affordable solution, and can also be used as a room divider.


Image credit: Pinterest

However be warned- clothes racks only work with a minimal wardrobe. There’s nothing worse than an exploding clothes rack, jammed full of garments, creating chaos in your precious space.


Image credit: Nomess Copenhagen


Image credit: Normann Copenhagen

Natural materials and light surfaces Scandi style

White is not just an aesthetic, but incredibly practical as colour risks making the studio smaller -  with only one room, you’ve got no other space to work with! Save colour for accessories and textiles but keep walls and furniture natural and light.


Image credit: Iboligen

If you really hate Scandi white, don’t use more than 3 complementary colours and keep similar textures and materials in mind.


Image credit: Iboligen

Create a bedroom with glass walls

So besides the options of sofa beds, loft beds, or foldaway beds, you can partition off a bedroom. You could use screens or curtains, but an ingenious solution that creates the illusion of a separate room without compromising on light, is glass.


Image credit: Fantastic Frank

This Stockholm apartment is only 39m2 and uses glass partitioning to create an Industrial look as well as separate the bed from the lounge area. The glass keeps the light and airy feel to the apartment, which is essential when there’s not much space. While creating a partition, it's also maximising natural light.


Image credit: Fantastic Frank


Image credit: Fantastic Frank

Alternatively, you can employ a full glass sheet as a wall.


Image credit : Karolina Krac


Image credit : Karolina Krac

These images are from the 45m2 apartment with the radical black box entry hall we looked at earlier. Using the black and white theme, this apartment ingeniously employs many of the themes discussed in this article in creating functional spaces and minirooms, like the amazing ‘dressing room’.


Image credit : Karolina Krac


If you don’t have room for a table, consider a bar table. Here,this bar table also creates a spatial division of the kitchen from the rest of the room.


Image credit: S. Zajączkowski


Image credit: Apartment Therapy

When designing for a studio apartment, you need to be incredibly focused and flexible around your own lifestyle. When you don’t have a range of rooms at your disposal - there’s no convention to abide by as to what needs to be there. Your guide should be how you live and if you don’t really need certain items, don’t include them.


 Image credit: Kreavilla

For some, a dining table is the hearth of a home where there’s dinner with friends, sprawling projects or where homework gets done. However, if you do TV dinners or eat out, maybe you don’t need a table at all. The way you live should dictate what kind of furniture you have in your studio space - not convention.

In all areas of the studio, design around your needs and use Scandinavian design principles of creating a tone of organisation from setting up an entryway, using a light colour palette, incorporating storage and being smart about bed options and partitioning to keep the space as light, bright and functional as possible.


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