This 450-Square-Foot Rental Makes Organizing and Designing on a Budget Look Easy
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In August, I relocated from my 1600-square-foot, three-bedroom bungalow in San Antonio, Texas, to a 450-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Burlingame, California. I work in product marketing at a fintech start-up in Palo Alto, and I’m also an interior designer and writer for my business and blog, Blessed Little Bungalow. Because I sold my house so quickly (three days) while traveling this summer, I had to find a place in the Bay Area just as quickly. I found my apartment through an online search, FaceTimed with the real estate agent to see the building while it was being renovated, and signed my lease and paid my deposit sight unseen.
As I decluttered, sold, and donated furnishings from my house, I began purchasing new furniture and decor for my new apartment before officially moving on Aug. 1. Once my PODS container arrived a week later, it took me four days to unpack and completely decorate my new space. In the apartment, I spend a lot of time working on my blog and building designs for my clients from across the country. I also spend hours reading and binge-watching documentaries on Netflix from my Joybird sofa. I love every inch of my new space and being a new Bay Area resident!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I’d describe my style as mid-century modern mixed with a little boho glam. I love all things brass and gold, bold colors, metallics, mixed textures and patterns, and wood finishes. My past two homes have been craftsman-style, so having hardwood floors and adequate character and white molding in the new apartment was important to me. I love clean lines and white surfaces as they make spaces feel larger, fresh, and modern. Most importantly, comfort is key, so I always want my home to feel welcoming, livable, and as relaxing as possible.
Inspiration: For furnishings and aesthetics, I’m obsessed with West Elm and Anthropologie, and often look to them for inspiration before hunting for decor and furniture for clients (and myself)! Specific designers that inspire me include Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow and The New Bohemians, Shauna Glenn, Cheryl Luckett of Dwell by Cheryl, Forbes + Masters, Shavonda Gardner of SG Style, and Dabito of Old Brand New. Blogs I love include The Every Girl and (of course) Apartment Therapy! Lastly, I’m often inspired by scriptures and quotes, so have many words of inspiration framed throughout my home for motivation and positive energy.
Favorite Element: My favorite elements in my new apartment are my gold bookshelves from Cui Liu Designs that I purchased from my favorite store, HomeGoods. I positioned them in the center of my living room surrounded by a gallery wall of artwork and filled with books and magazines arranged by color (Roy G. Biv!). It’s the first thing you see when you come around the corner into the space and I love the unique look of the angled shelves. When I found them in Texas before moving, I just had to have them and couldn’t wait to style it with my book collection and knick-knack souvenirs from my world travels. For less than $250, they are indeed my new space’s showstopper.
Biggest Challenge: Downsizing from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house to a one-bedroom apartment that’s a third the size AND twice the cost has been a huge adjustment. The biggest challenge was parting with furniture and decor I no longer had space for (including a reclaimed wood dining table from West Elm that I LOVED dearly) and making the most of the little storage space I had. My old house had four closets (one that was a walk-in in the master) and a detached two-car garage, allowing me to easily access my wardrobe from all seasons and be a pack rat with things I brought across the country from previous moves. However, even with a storage unit two blocks away, I’ve had to be very creative when it came to storing clothes and my belongings in my small apartment. There were many trips to The Container Store and Target that helped me accomplish this goal. This challenge has made me more conscious of my impulsive shopping habits, helped me stay on a disciplined budget, and live a more simple and minimalist lifestyle.
Proudest DIY: Purchasing a tension shower rod from Target for less than $10 to create a “hall closet” in my laundry room. I desperately needed more space for my coats, hoodies and outerwear, so this was an inexpensive and intuitive hack taking advantage of the height and unoccupied square footage above my washer and dryer. I also created a small linen closet area by stacking extra bed sheets and towels next to my new “coat closet.” I also used a rolling storage container to house my extra bathroom toiletries in my living room. The clouded plastic drawers disguise its contents and it appears to just be another piece of decor in the living room.
Biggest Indulgence: I swear by my Tempurpedic mattress. It’s expensive, but worth every cent. The older I get, the more adequate rest is important to me. Quality sleep is so valuable so I always tell people to invest in the mattress your body spends hours each day with. Other splurges include my two area rugs from West Elm in the bedroom and Loloi Rugs via HomeGoods in my living space. Rugs can get expensive, but the better the quality, the longer they last and are less likely to stain and shed. I was able to score them both at a discounted price and they complement both rooms’ color palette perfectly.
Best Advice: When moving or purchasing a new home, we sometimes get in a rush to decorate very quickly. Doing so can put a huge dent in your credit card statement or savings account, and also leave you with buyer’s remorse months later. Rushed designs are usually the most regrettable and least enjoyable spaces. TAKE YOUR TIME, even if that means decorating room by room or just adding one piece of furniture a month. Start by identifying the purpose of the space and allow that to be the foundation of the design. What will you be doing in the room? What colors make you happy? How do you want the space to make you feel? If you have one piece of furniture or a pillow that gives you inspiration, use it as a starting point and build from there. I believe that by taking these steps, slow but steady, you’ll be left much more satisfied with the space you create.
PAINT & COLORS
- Not sure since the space is rented, but I love Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams. This is a little lighter, but that’s my go-to for any room’s walls.
- Lewis Sofa – Joybird
- Pillows — Loloi/Magnolia Home, HomeGoods
- Geometric Rug — Loloi Rugs, HomeGoods
- Bookshelves — Cui Liu Designs, HomeGoods
- Storage Cabinet — TJ Maxx
- Floor Lamp — Target
- Desk – HomeGoods
- Curtains — West Elm
- Curtain Rods and Rings – Target
- Pennant — Rayo and Honey
- Canvases and Artwork – HomeGoods, Oliver Gal
- Wall Shelving – HomeGoods
- Globe – HomeGoods
- Storage Drawers – HomeGoods
- Metal Desk Chair – Marshalls
- Side Table – HomeGoods
- Marcella Velvet Bed — Urban Outfitters
- Flame Rug — West Elm
- Bedding — HomeGoods
- Pillows — Modish Decor Pillows, HomeGoods
- Nightstand — HomeGoods
- Table Lamps — HomeGoods
- Sunburst Mirror — Safavieh, Wayfair
- Full-Length Mirror – Marshalls
- Cube Shelving – Target
- Cube Baskets – Target
- Velvet Hangers – Brookstone, HomeGoods
- Bath Mat — Urban Outfitters
- Soap Dispenser — Target
- Marble Canister — World Market
- Original Artwork – Rachel Stewart Art
- Artwork and Frames – HomeGoods, Target, Marshalls
- Tiered Shelving – HomeGoods
- Organization Containers – HomeGoods
- Round Canisters – IKEA
- Towels – HomeGoods, Target
- Toilet Paper Storage – At Home
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