A 500-Square-Foot San Diego Studio Hides a Handful of Smart Small Space Ideas

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
House tour cover

Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox

Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter

Post Image
My only closet storage is behind those mirrored doors, which helps me keep things minimal.

Name: Katie Dickens and cat, Sally
Location: San Diego, California
Type of home: Studio Apartment
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Katie Dickens says one of the main inspirations for her 500-square-foot San Diego studio apartment comes from hotels. Specifically, making sure that whatever you need is right where you need it (whether that be a bedside lamp for reading, or the right storage). But while hotels can sometimes be impersonal, Katie’s is anything but. She’s incorporated elements she loves into her space despite the small size, chief among them vintage gold mirrors, plants, and dinosaur-themed decor. Like many other people squeezing into small homes, Katie has had to tackle storage woes, like the open shelves that her kitchen came with. “They’re cute, but man they’re a lot of work,” she laments in the video tour above. One of her biggest home organizing wins was using what she calls sneaky storage, which she says is just using things that are aesthetically pleasing to hold all of your junk. And when that’s not possible, you can just hide it, like she does with her wine and canned goods behind her sofa!

I made this art myself by splashing black paint all over the canvases with my eyes closed.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live in my San Diego studio apartment with my cat, Sally. I’ve spent hours upon hours on Pinterest looking for inspiration on how to best plan the space while making it both luxurious and comfortable. I’m working on starting up my own design business, so my apartment is ground zero. My home is my escape and a place I am happy to never leave.

I keep extra baskets in my entryway area for shoe storage.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Cozy, textured, jungle-ish, organized, and plush.

What is your favorite room and why? Since I only have one room, I would say my favorite area is the “living area.” I’ve rearranged this space thousands of times to try and make it seem separate from the bedroom area.

I use the TV as a divider between the bedroom and living area.

Now it’s really cozy; I invested in a comfortable couch, and have great side tables so if I feel like getting takeout and watching a movie, I’m totally set up!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I found an old dirty bamboo chair on the second floor of my gym, and asked the owner if I could take it. He said yes! So I restored it and bought a boho tassel white cushion for the seat and it looks beautiful!

Although my bathroom is small, I've figured out how to utilize storage and make it feel very calm.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Comfort is key. Invest in the pieces you’ll be spending the most time in, like your bed and your sofa. Have some fun, and don’t be afraid to take time getting it all together.

My goal for the bathroom is to always feel like I'm at a spa.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.