A 550-Square-Foot Portland Apartment Has Smart Kitchen Cabinet Storage and Adorable Arches

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Modern comfortable living room with white walls, tan sofa, brown leather chair, and white marble coffee table
Credit: Emma Wells
I work from home so my small space has to play double duty. My secretary desk is great because it belonged to my grandpa in the '60s and folds up completely. Very useful for when I have a party or just can't stand to think about work for awhile.

Name: Emma Wells and two rescue dogs, Pippi and Meggie
Location: Portland, Oregon
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Credit: Emma Wells
I painted a half wall around my small hallway. It creates a sense of height in the tight space and gives it some aesthetic purpose.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I moved to Portland a year ago. I was on the road having left a bad job and a bad relationship and closed a decade long chapter on a life in NYC. I was looking for somewhere fresh. I had never been to the Pacific Northwest before but I found this apartment on Zillow and had a great feeling about it. I had connections in the area already and decided to take a weekend trip to scope it out. After less than 24 hours in Portland I had signed this lease and called movers. A year later and I can confirm it was the greatest quick decision. I’ve created a lovely home for myself and my dogs here and on top of that now have a better job and an even better boyfriend.

Credit: Emma Wells
I read a lot and love to while away the afternoon at an independent bookstore. There are too many books to keep them all together in one library so they get stashed in small corners where I can still be surrounded by them.

I had never lived alone before and having my own space to decorate was a dream come true despite having less than my dream budget. A lot of my items were kindly donated by friends and relatives and then it was just a matter of finding the accessories to pull them all together. Pretty much every item has a story behind it. Some things are special because they’ve been in my family for generations. Others are special because I discovered them on an adventure (either one around the world or to HomeGoods with my best friend after boozy brunch).

Credit: Emma Wells
I love the rounded arches in my apartment. They give the place some character and are extra pretty to decorate for Christmas.

This house is also home to Pippi and Meggie, my two rescue dogs. They are truly faithful companions; I’ve had them for six years during which they’ve moved many times with me. I can tell they especially love this place, too. This is our first time living on the first floor and they love to sit in the window and “commune loudly” with the passersby.

Credit: Emma Wells
My bedroom is a little moodier than the rest of the house.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Warm, earthy, cozy, trinket-filled

Credit: Emma Wells
My kitchen is my favorite space because it underwent the biggest transformation when I moved in.

What is your favorite room and why? My kitchen is easily my favorite room. Cooking is a hobby of mine and this was the first room I focused on when I moved in. It got a complete overhaul (within the bounds of my rental agreement). I spent an entire weekend covering the counter tops with contact paper, just to name one project. It also has great storage and it’s the only room I manage to keep organized.

Credit: Emma Wells
I have a lot of kitchen "stuff" (gadgets, tools, books, supplies, etc) it is essential I keep everything very organized so the space is functional for me to cook in.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The latest addition to my home was a gift my boyfriend, Scott. It’s a miniature hobbit hole that now lives nestles amongst my plant collection and makes me smile several times a day.

Credit: Emma Wells
My bathroom is small and has no windows but I was determined to make it a luxurious spa retreat for me anyways.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t rush it! And don’t aim for perfection. This space will forever be a work in progress. As I grow and my life and needs change my space will continue to evolve with me. If I felt it was perfect it would be hard to change things when I need to but every time I do add or subtract or just reorganize I feel the space is better than before.

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