Living in Japan

7 Stylish Decorating Ideas for a Japanese Studio Apartment

You do not have to give up style and aesthetics just because you live in a small apartment.

Below we present some stylish decorating ideas culled from beautifully designed studio apartments shared on, a Japanese interior design photo sharing app.

1. Cafe-inspired, simple and relaxed style

Cafe-inspired design style in a Japanese studio apartment. Note the espresso machine in the corner near the window. The shelving is custom built using high-tension wooden poles. Image: Hiro via

A lot of love went into the design and DIY-ing of this studio apartment. This is an approximately 8-mat (13-sqm) room, but looks bigger thanks to the abundant natural light and main furniture pieces lined up against the walls.

The beautiful shelf was custom built using sturdy high-tension wooden poles. Custom woodwork may be a bigger investment than you want to put into a rental apartment, but horizontal or vertical high-tension poles are a handy and inexpensive alternative. They are useful for rigging up racks in your living room, kitchen or bath without leaving marks on the ceiling or floor. Because they are braced against the ceiling and floor, they are also safer in an earthquake than non-secured shelves.

A single plastic pole costs about ¥1,500 ($14 USD) and can be used to create a simple place to hang your suits.

Studio apartment decorating ideas japan clothes storage

High-tension poles can be used to rig up extra storage space for your suits. Photo: Shirokuma via

High-tension poles are called tsuppari pōru (つっぱりポール) in Japanese and be purchased from home goods stores, DIY stores and online at and

2. Simple and white

Sticking with a white theme will lighten and open up a room. This is a beautifully designed room that makes the most of a small space. We are big fans of under-bed storage!

Stylish studio apartment decorating ideas japan

This is a very simply designed studio apartment where the resident has done well to deal with a small room where the placement of the washing machine and kitchen, of course, can’t be changed. Photo: Ponsuke via

3. Northern European-inspired with accent lighting

A few right pieces can go a long way. The owner of this small studio apartment bought almost all of these pieces from MUJI to create this northern European-inspired space. The accent lighting is a nice touch.

Studio apartment minimalist decorating ideas japan

The owner of this small studio apartment was inspired by northern European design elements, including the rug and low blond-wood table, both available at MUJI, along with the bed/futon. Photo: March via

4. Most comfortable home office ever

You might think this is a corner in a comfortable coffee shop, but it is in fact a small studio apartment used as a home office by the owner.

Studio apartment decorating ideas stylish home office japan

The owner of this small studio apartment uses this space as his home office.! Much nicer than a cubicle, wouldn’t you say? At the front is a kerosene stove that keeps the room warm and always keeps a pot of hot water ready for tea or coffee. Photo: Jam via


You can buy indoor circulating kerosene stoves from manufacturers like TOYOTOMI. Using kerosene to heat your home will lower your electricity bill and kerosine “stoves” (heaters) are widely used in Japan, though low levels of some pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are produced. If you use kerosene heating, remember to keep the air well circulated. The model shown here costs about ¥20,000 ($180) and can efficiently heat a 9-tatami mat concrete room, according to the manufacturer (TOYOTOMI). Photo: TOYOTOMI

5.  Cover up unsightly surfaces with “Re-Make” (Contact) paper

Rental apartments in Japan usually have very sturdy metal front doors with a strong lock. This is a good thing for security, but the inside of your front door was designed for function not aesthetics. The person living in this apartment decided she didn’t want to look at her dingy door any more.

The solution was simple. It did involve some detailed measuring, cutting, and laying down of re-make (Rimeikushīto, メイクシート) sheets. This is a product that is similar to “contact paper” sold in the US, which is printed with a design on one side and is highly adhesive on the other. The paper can be cut to size and easily sticks to many surfaces. It peels off most surfaces without leaving a residue.

And voila, the front door has been transformed from a dingy painted metal surface to a “wooden” one thanks to Re-Make sheets. Photo: ys0908ys via

Studio apartment decorating ideas japan contact paper covered fridge

This person decided they wanted their fridge to the next level, that of faux-wood. Sure, why not. Photo:

6. Rocker + Jack Daniels-inspired room

Why go to the local bar when you can set up a full bar in the corner of your studio apartment? Everything in this room is here for a reason, and we think the owner of this apartment must love coming home to this comfortable space.

Studio apartment decorating ideas japan rocker style

The Rocker Room. Photo: yuta040563 via

7. There is no reason for your unit bath to be unattractive

Unit baths are compact and convenient, but attractive they are not. A few simple touches can transform your unit bath into something that is not as…plasticky.

This is a rental apartment, but the occupant says that she just did not like the white plastic glare of her bathroom floor. So, she covered it with wood-pattern-printed contact (re-make) paper. What do you think? Photo: Suzu via

Unit bath Japan organizing ideas

Add a small plant, a few containers and racks and your unit bath won’t look as stark. Photo:

Add a little color to your washlet! Photo:

You may also be interested in Small Room Decoration Ideas from Japan and How to organize a small Japanese kitchen