A 380-Square-Foot San Diego Studio Is FULL of Incredible DIY Projects


A 380-Square-Foot San Diego Studio Is FULL of Incredible DIY Projects

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Name: Danielle Peterson and my Labrador Retriever, Riggins!
Location: San Diego, California
Size: 380 square feet
Type of Home: Studio apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

I currently live in San Diego in a downtown neighborhood called Little Italy. I am born and raised in San Diego and have lived in the neighborhood for five years; I cannot picture myself leaving! It is a little piece of heaven across from the San Diego Bay. It is extremely walkable with a TON of local restaurants, bars, and shops.

While living with a roommate in the neighborhood, I saw a new apartment building going up with 40 “micro units.” This intrigued me because it was time for me to live alone with my pup and the “micro units” would make this a more affordable option. I went to the very first open house and gave my deposit that day! I wanted a change and living in 380 square feet would require me to ditch my walk-in closet and live minimally. It would also be a challenge for me decor-wise.

Each unit has a large balcony where I often spend time eating meals, soaking up the San Diego sun, people watching, and most importantly, watching the beautiful sunset over the Bay.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Warm neutral boho

Inspiration: I find inspiration in everywhere I look! I often pull inspiration from architecture, restaurant/shop design, Instagram, Pinterest, and magazines!

Favorite Element: My favorite thing about my home is my balcony for many reasons! I absolutely love spending time outdoors in San Diego and am lucky to have my own space to enjoy outdoors. The view from my balcony is amazing during sunsets and provides great entertainment for people watching in the city. Finally, one of my favorite DIYs is my balcony floor! I used peel and stick tiles, painted them to my favorite print, and cut to fit the floor of my balcony. It gave it a unique and colorful vibe.

Biggest Challenge: This space gave me lots of challenges, but my biggest challenge was finding renter-friendly options for creating a warm boho style in a modern concrete building. I overcame this by using paint and lots of natural elements such as wood and dried florals to offset the concrete and modern lines.

Proudest DIY: My proudest DIY is my floating nightstand! As you can imagine, maximizing space is imperative in this apartment. My idea for the floating nightstand came to me when all great ideas come — in the middle of the night! It took a lot of planning, research, and learning how to use two new power tools. It turned out more beautiful than I could have imagined!

Biggest Indulgence: I have been very lucky in finding items on Facebook Marketplace to keep my home design at a low budget. Overall, the biggest expense was my entryway! I bought everything new, but it was 100% worth it! I love having a unique entryway with the three oval mirrors while adding additional storage.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The most unique thing about my home is the size. At first living in 380 square feet seemed small, but the layout and design makes it feel open and much larger than it is on paper. Everything is open — open kitchen shelving, open closet, and even an open shower! This makes the space feel larger!

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My favorite product I have bought for my home is the P.F. Candle Co. Room & Linen Spray in Teakwood & Tobacco. I LOVE having my home smell nicely.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: First and foremost, minimize! When I moved, I got my closet down from a walk-in closet to one rack. Living in a small space has made me keep or purchase items I truly LOVE and would want to use/wear every day. Use under your bed for storage. I keep all my Christmas decor and non-everyday items under there. You would be surprised with how much you can fit! Find aesthetically pleasing organization. I bought white clothing racks to screw directly into my wall to maximize space while also matching my decor. I added matching neutral hangers and a shelf above to add additional design, storage, and provide a cohesive look.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My biggest question I get is how to find a design style and keep it cohesive. I am someone who loves multiple design styles and trends, but knew I needed a cohesive look. I recommend looking at all of your saved Instagram or pins (wherever you save inspiration!) and identify what style is the most consistent. I used to have a black and white home and quickly got sick of it. When I looked at my Pinterest, I found I gravitate to airier and bright design spaces. I now always have a ton of white and bright in my home! I also always use Google Slides to layout the space I am designing to see all the furniture and decor visually before I purchase.







  • Shelves by mirror — IKEA
  • Shelves behind toilet — IKEA
  • Shelf brackets behind toilet — IKEA
  • Stool — IKEA, not sold anymore



Thanks Danielle!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.