Emily Rasowsky’s studio apartment may only be about 500 square feet. But she didn’t let the Logan Circle unit’s small size limit its potential.

“I wanted to make sure it felt airy, light and open,” she says. “And I wanted to have a space that felt established and made me happy when I walked in. To come home to a space you love is so critical.”

Rasowsky chose her studio for many of the same reasons other D.C.-area studio renters do: a desire to have her own apartment at a reasonable price in a neighborhood that appealed to her. And these renters are proving that a studio isn’t something for which you simply have to settle.

If you’re stumped by things like furniture layout and storage solutions, we’ve found 10 ways to turn a one-room rental into a place you’ll love living in.

Say goodbye to what you can’t use.
Monica Leslie moved into her 450-square-foot Kalorama studio with furniture she’d accumulated since college. She soon found that what worked in a larger rental wasn’t cutting it in her studio. So she ditched her couch for a better-sized loveseat. “And I got rid of a reclining reading chair that I loved but just didn’t fit in here,” she says.

Make an investment.
That could mean buying quality furniture pieces or even hiring an interior decorator as Rasowsky did, working with designer Shannon Smith to create the space she wanted. “There is so much to be said about investing in yourself,” says Rasowsky, 24. “To be able to come back from a business trip, stumble into my apartment and automatically feel so at ease is worth all the time and money spent.”

Adopt a multitasking mantra.
“I made a rule for myself that I can’t buy anything for my apartment unless it has at least two functions,” says Paige Heskamp, another Kalorama studio renter. So she’s purchased pieces like storage ottomans she uses for either eating surfaces or extra seating, and a cube-style bookcase that provides storage and serves as a divider between her living and sleeping spaces.

Create different zones.
“Separation is so important in studios,” Smith says. They’re just one big space, after all, so it helps to give defined purposes to different sections. Area rugs are an easy way to create the impression of different “rooms” within your studio. Rasowsky and Smith used a textured rug in the entryway, a fluffy, crisscross-designed rug in the living space, and a cream-colored rug in the bedroom area.

Address all of your needs.
Leslie, 29, works from home as a health-care consultant. And her makeshift solution of turning her foyer table into her desk every day quickly grew tiring. So she completely rearranged her studio to set up a desk near the windows. “That’s what I envisioned everything around, setting up a workspace so that I felt better about being in a small, at-home work environment,” she says.

Break from tradition.
Who says your dresser needs to be by your bed? Leslie moved hers to her foyer. “It’s a really nice piece that looks like something that could be in an entryway, but it actually has all my clothes in it,” she says.

Store things strategically.
Rasowsky has lots of jewelry. Instead of finding places to stash it all, she incorporated some into her decor, hanging pieces from lamps and on a bar cart. “It’s a creative way to store and showcase some of these things without having to figure out where they all go,” she says.

Look up.
“Drawing the eye upward makes a space feel larger,” Smith says. So she recommends hanging curtains at the ceiling and art higher on the wall, or even changing out boring light fixtures for something more interesting.

Take a chance.
Think beyond white — dark colors can add depth and interest in small spaces. And resist the urge to shove your furniture against the walls. “In Emily’s studio, we floated the furniture off of the walls,” Smith says. “It sounds counterintuitive, but pushing all the furniture against the walls can actually make a space look smaller. Floating it in the center of the room gives the illusion that the room is bigger than it is.”

Embrace your space.
A small studio can still offer big benefits. “I think it’s a cool thing to be able to have my own things in my own space where everything can be the way I want it,” says Heskamp, 26. “Before I moved into a studio, I thought they were so tiny that I could never live in one. But I wouldn’t trade mine for anything right now.”

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