Home Improvement Ideas for an Efficiency Apartment

by Cynthia Myers, Demand Media

    Whether you call it an efficiency apartment or a studio, that small, one-room apartment with only the bathroom separated by walls puts all your belongings practically within arm’s reach. The space can feel claustrophobic and cluttered, or neat and cozy, depending on the layout and your personal style. If you’re in an efficiency, you can make improvements to add to your space and give the place a less cluttered look.

    Add a Loft

    A loft takes your bed out of the main living area, gives you privacy for sleeping and provides a cool retreat. You can purchase a kit to create a loft bed, or consult books and plans and build your own. Since you can’t attach the loft to walls or make any permanent modifications in an apartment, you must build a freestanding platform. Add low walls or divide your loft from the rest of the room with curtains. Add shelves alongside your bed to store books and other essentials. Access your loft with a sturdy built-in ladder. Add colorful bedding and pillows to create an attractive retreat.

    Storage Solutions

    Small spaces often lack storage space. Adding it clears out the clutter and gives you more living space. Look for unused space overhead, in corners and underneath other furnishings. Add shelves along the ceiling and use dividers and shelf extensions in existing cabinets to use all the storage space. Look for furniture that doubles as storage, such as chests and ottomans with inner storage. Hang items such as your curling iron and blow dryer on hooks in the bathroom. Use hooks in the kitchen area to accommodate your mixer, measuring spoons etc. Create a grid out of painted pegboard or wire and use this as storage on the wall to add a practical and decorative element.

    Vanishing Furniture

    Create more space and transform the living area in an efficiency apartment by utilizing furniture that moves out of the way when it’s not in use. Put your bed on a platform that you raise to the ceiling when it’s not in use, or use a daybed or sofa bed that serves as seating during the day. Instead of a standard table, use a folding shelf that lays flat against the wall when not in use. Folding chairs you can put away when you don’t need them, or seating cubes that slide under tables or other furniture -- out of sight -- give you seating for company, but they don’t take up space when you don’t need them.

    Make a Statement With Paint

    If your landlord will allow you to paint, use color to divide your living space. Freestanding dividers can make a small apartment look choppy, but using paint to designate different areas adds style and interest. Opt for bold colors: a bright red for your kitchen area, cinnamon for the living space and teal for the portion of the efficiency where you sleep. Or paint all the walls a bold color and use accessories to designate the space -- red for the kitchen space, blue for the bedroom area, etc. Paint the ceiling a lighter color to add a sense of height and space. Use bookcases, plants or wall hangings as breaking points for changing colors, and use colors that complement, rather than clash. Think about the colors that make you feel good and happy and use those on your walls, ceilings, doors and window trim, and in your accessories.

    About the Author

    Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University. Before turning to freelancing full-time, Myers worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.