What is a One Bedroom Apartment?
A one bedroom apartment for rent or for sale should include a bedroom with a closet and a door that closes (along with a window), a separate living room area, at least one separate bathroom (many luxury one-bedroom apartment floor plans include an additional half-bath, usually off the living room or front hall or foyer), and, often, a separate kitchen. However, as is the case in many studio and junior one bedroom apartments, the kitchen can be open and running along one wall of the living area, particularly when the apartment is on the smaller size. While kitchenettes are rarer in 1 bedrooms than in studios, they can be found.
In space-squeezed cities like New York, one bedroom apartments are usually the most common apartment layout (followed by studios), and can be found in sizes from intimate and cozy to expansive and luxurious. All types of buildings house these floorplans, including brownstones, walk-ups, tenements, garden apartment complexes, pre-war residential buildings, and contemporary high rises.
The advantages in terms of the one bedroom apartment layout versus a studio apartment floor plan are clear: even with the same square footage, the one-bedroom apartment automatically offers you more privacy, and more clearly delineates the space, making decorating a one-bedroom apartment, even one that, at first glance, appears tiny, a far simpler task. Also, if you work from home, either as a full-time job or even just occasionally at night and on weekends, it helps psychologically to have your office space--your computer and printer and files and supplies--in a separate environment from your sleeping space.
Most couples and singles prefer a 1 bedroom over a studio, especially for entertaining guests, who won't have to sit on your bed (even if said bed is a fold-up couch or futon) in order to hang out. If you cook a lot at home, it's also nice to have the kitchen area separate from your sleeping area, so that food odors don't settle on your duvet cover.
There is also less "running into each other" when maneuvering through a one bedroom as opposed to a smaller apartment, and couples find they can get a little more privacy if one of them can be, say, reading in the bedroom while the other watches TV in the living room.
That said, in many expensive cities, often people use the living room as a second bedroom, forgoing a separate living space. Roommates sharing a one bedroom apartment is a fairly common occurrence situation, with one person getting the bedroom; the other the living area. Many couples with older children and, especially, single or divorced parents, also make full use of both rooms for sleeping, often with the adult(s) getting the "official" bedroom, and the kids making do with a futon, a pull-out couch, or a pull-down Murphy bed.
In some cities temporary walls are often installed, that divide the living area into a small living space, and a small bedroom. There are usually strict laws on how this is done. You can see our page on flexible or convertible apartments for more information.
One-bedroom apartments can be quite cozy, in which case you'll need to put to use the many time-tested small-space decorating ideas, including adding moldings around doors for visual interest, so your eye moves through the space; or painting the walls in rich, contrasting colors to give separation; or hanging a large mirror on a primary wall to add "optical square footage". Living in a small space requires that you be a vigilant, ruthless editor of your stuff, both when you first move in--nothing makes a small space look even smaller than clutter and/or too many pieces of furniture--and as time goes on. When you bring one thing into the home, something else has to leave.
Our page on studio apartments has a lot of great small-space decorating ideas, that easily could be applied to small one bedroom units as well. Check it out!
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