This 480-Square-Foot Washington, D.C. Studio Has a “Giant Pink Bookcase”

published Jan 8, 2024

This 480-Square-Foot Washington, D.C. Studio Has a “Giant Pink Bookcase”

published Jan 8, 2024
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Six months ago, when Ashley, who runs the History in High Heels blog, started looking for a new rental apartment in Washington, D.C., the experience was disheartening. “It felt like people who can’t afford $3,000 a month on rent didn’t deserve things like a decent kitchen, dishwasher, windows and natural light, or updated finishes,” she says. 

However, as luck would have it, Ashley soon found her current apartment, which checked a lot of boxes: It was a great price and had gorgeous natural light, amenities like central air, and an incredible layout. In a word, it was almost perfect. 

“The only downside was its smaller size and age,” Ashley writes. “It was a bit of a diamond in the rough. But I knew with some thoughtful space planning and strategic DIYs, the space would be perfect for me!”

Credit: Provided by Ashley Buchanan

When she moved into the apartment, it was essentially a blank slate — with beautiful parquet floors. So, to maximize space and functionality, Ashley mapped out the space. “My first and biggest challenge was the arrangement,” she notes. “I measured every inch and drew the apartment to scale. I mapped out my paths of travel and all of my furniture, trying an endless combination of arrangements.” 

It’s not just a shrewd layout that Ashley pieced together in her home; she also DIYed several rooms and furniture items, like a $250 Anthropologie bar cart dupe, transforming her basic kitchen into a citrusy oasis, and used an IKEA bookshelf to divide her living room and bedroom areas. 

And when it came to decorating, Ashley was able to create a high-end-looking home by knowing where to spend money. “My best decorating advice is to know when to splurge and when to save! If you aren’t settled in long-term housing, or simply don’t have the funds to invest in pricey furniture, you can elevate the look of budget furniture and your decor with very strategic splurges. Items like lamp shades, pillows, and curtains are small items that make a big impact when it comes to style,” she suggests.



  • Living Room Bookshelves — Behr “Pink Taffy”
  • Kitchen Accent Wall — Behr “Tournament Green”

Thanks, Ashley!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.