A 520-Square-Foot Seattle Studio Has Lots of Efficient Storage and a Roof Deck with Mountain Views

published Oct 6, 2022

A 520-Square-Foot Seattle Studio Has Lots of Efficient Storage and a Roof Deck with Mountain Views

published Oct 6, 2022
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Bedrooms
Square feet
520
Sq ft
520

Name: Hannah Herman
Location: Cap Hill, Seattle, Washington
Size: 520 square feet
Type of Home: Efficiency Loft/Penthouse Microstudio
Years lived in: 4.5 years, renting

“Imagine if a tiny house and a one-bedroom apartment had a baby… that’s my apartment,” says Hannah Herman, “My home is the top floor apartment in a building of micro studios that was originally two separate units and the center stairwell was initially the whole building’s access to the roof deck. Due to late-in-project changes to Seattle housing regulations, what was once its own unit is now my bedroom, and I have my own private roof deck with amazing views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier! I love that the ceilings are so high; it goes a long way toward making 520 square feet feel a lot bigger. Plus, since I have an upper floor and landing at the top of the stairs, I can keep the window up there open all the time. This does wonders for passively cooling my home — super important when you have no AC!”

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“I actually first found out about this apartment when I staged its mirror image for promo photos during the original lease-up when the building first opened. I also did much of the interior design of all the common areas in the building — you could say I’ve known this building since it was just wee studs instead of walls. When an opportunity came to move to Seattle, and this unit was available, I knew it would be an incredibly fun challenge to make such a weirdly-shaped space work for everyday use.”

Credit: Netra Nei

“I’m a neurodivergent interior designer (and a Junior Interior Designer at Loftium), artist, photographer, stylist, and reform Jew of eastern European descent. I’ve been on a mental health journey and journey to define myself both within and outside of my culture. I lived in an eco village in Israel for eight months before moving to the Pacific Northwest, and a lot of the items in my home were purchased second hand as part of my commitment to sustainability and leaving a lighter footprint (…okay fine, and also my budget). My tendency to feel strong attachment to old items I think comes from my culture as well. I like hanging on to history. My coffee table was a vintage wood mailing trunk that you can still see part of the address on one side. (I hope whomever it originally belonged to wouldn’t mind that I added wheels.) I also have a lot of my grandfather’s old cameras sitting out to remind me that he was a lawyer so my father could be a teacher and so I could be an artist.”

Credit: Netra Nei

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Colorfully cozy eclectic treehouse maximalism

Inspiration: Ecovillages, treehouses, non-traditional communal spaces, the Southern wrap-around porch, every vintage store I’ve ever been in, the artist Yaacov Agam.

Credit: Netra Nei

Favorite Element: Next to my bed is a vintage lamp of a little girl. My grandparents bought it at an estate sale in Florida and sent it to me when I was about 8 years old. I guess they always knew I’d be into design. The glass shade broke a few years ago but a friend was able to find an old metal piece that fit instead and painted it cherry red for me.

I also really really love my sleeping loft area. A twin mattress and small green settee fit just barely perfectly up there. It’s a delightfully calm place to take a nap and listen to the rain, and also serves as a great guest space! 

The art above my bed I painted on some old wood panels leftover from another project and the old pastel bust framed in cobalt blue is one of my favorite pieces I did in college.

Credit: Netra Nei

Biggest Challenge: Living on a fifth floor walk up — without a full kitchen — is not without a plethora of challenges, but with great challenges come great creative opportunities! In the main room I added a long counter space on the far wall that serves as additional kitchen prep space, desk, dining table, storage — it kind of does all the things. I added some floating cabinets from IKEA for added storage and to help keep me organized. I love styling the top of the cabinet — it’s my rotating art gallery. My acrylic spice rack on the counter is actually an old Farrow and Ball paint sample display!

Roughly a third of my apartment is a stairwell dividing the main living area from the bedroom. I utilize the stairwell as extra storage, and the railing works great to hang laundry to dry. My favorite spot in the stairwell is the hammock my friend helped me install at the top landing, just before the door to the roof deck. You can tell I really love taking naps, for such a small place I have four excellent napping spots. 

Credit: Netra Nei

Proudest DIY: It seems so simple, but I added wheels to the vintage trunk I use as a coffee table. It used to be an old mailing trunk from probably the early 1900s (you can still see the address on one side!). Not only did adding wheels raise it to the right height to make it much more ergonomically comfortable, but it also makes using my tiny, weird-shaped living room SO much easier. I am also pretty proud of adding the Plexiglas to the back cabinet wall. I use it as a mood board for my design projects, and dry erase markers work well on it, too!

Budget: Butcher block kitchen counter: salvaged for free from my old work (but I know the top is from IKEA and the metal legs are from Home Depot)

The Eileen Gray vintage glass + chrome side table next to my bed I got for $60 at the Grimm Rummage Sale after they finished filming the series.

The green hammock was a total SPLURGE from Anthropologie for $100 (exact colorway no longer available).

Credit: Netra Nei

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? If you go up to the top of the stairs (they take up the center third of my apartment!) my beautiful green hammock hangs just before the roof deck. It’s my favorite color and brings me so much joy to sit up there and watch the world go by.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Don’t be afraid to organize up — using vertical space is a powerful and often underutilized tool. Stairs can be powerful organizing tools; just make sure nothing is a tripping hazard!

Credit: Netra Nei

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice?

  • Don’t let other people’s opinions dictate how you decorate — you are designing the space for yourself, not your mother.
  • Patience. Live in your space for at least a month before you buy anything new; think about how you want to use it. Just because you see something incredibly cool at the flea market doesn’t mean it’s going to serve you and your space well.
  • If you live in a small space that already has lots of stuff, make a rule: if something new comes in, something old has to go.
  • All large furniture items must have multiple functional uses.
  • Never underestimate the power of the lazy Susan!
  • Make friends with people who will help you move heavy furniture up five flights of stairs.

Resources

Credit: Netra Nei

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa Article (no longer available but similar to the Sven Sofa)
  • Vintage Mailing Trunk turned coffee table Really Great Stuff, Portland OR (the shop unfortunately caught fire and burnt down last year)
  • Wood C Shape Side table  HomeGoods
Credit: Netra Nei

LOFT

  • Small Green Setee Marketplace
  • Cactus Pillow JoAnn’s
  • Green bedding Target
Credit: Netra Nei

KITCHEN

  • IVAR shelving unit IKEA
  • BEKVAN Kitchen Cart IKEA
  • SEKTION cabinets IKEA
  • Counter Stool HomeGoods
  • Narrow storage cart Target
Credit: Netra Nei

BEDROOM

Credit: Netra Nei

BATHROOM

Thanks Hannah!

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