"When I decided I was ready to live on my own after years of living with roommates, I needed a place where I could continue to have dinner parties and space for guests to feel comfortable — but finding that at an affordable price point in San Franciso is challenging," writes Chelsea Drenick. "I work as a structural engineer, and have an eye for space planning, and decided to hunt for a studio apartment where I could make a real separation between a sleeping space and an entertaining space. When I saw this place, measured the closet, and determined my bed could fit in it, I knew it was perfect. Even though I live in a studio, I can have several friends over without them ever feeling like they are in my bedroom, and my small couch pulls out into a bed so I can even host an overnight guest."
Name: Chelsea Drenick
Location: Nopa, San Francisco, California
Size: 330 (that includes the deck)
Years lived in: 1 year, renting
Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live in a five-unit Victorian apartment building that was built in 1906. My apartment is the attic of the building, which has been converted into a 330-square-foot studio. It is built into the roof eaves of the building giving it dramatically sloped ceilings on either side. They lend character to the space, but add challenge to decorating and furnishing. Even though it is an attic, it has lots of windows and light, and the back of the unit opens up onto a private deck with a lovely view of the backyard.
Because I am using the closet for my bed and I have a small kitchen without a lot of cabinets, I had to get inventive to find storage space for my things. I modified an IKEA wardrobe to fit in the living area to house my clothes, wine collection, and more. I also created a counter bar to store dishes and to add extra counter space, combining a shelving that I already owned and a tabletop from Craigslist. I've found or created built-in places to creatively display things like oils, spices and mugs in a way that looks thoughtful, since I don't have a lot of cabinet space to hide them away.
What is your favorite room and why? Even though its a studio apartment, I would say my favorite room is what I have coined my "bed den." It's an incredibly cozy nook, and the skylight above the bed is great for adding natural light to the space. I have never slept better.
If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? The living room space is rather long and narrow due to my closet. I would widen my apartment a bit to create a better sitting room space with the couch and armchair.
What's the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I'm an engineer by day but a ceramic artist by night (@drenick.ceramics), so the last thing that was brought into my apartment was definitely new pottery. However, the most recent thing I purchased that I felt really transformed the space was the wallpaper I added to the side of my IKEA closet. It is from Chasing Paper. I also added vintage knobs from Etsy to the side of the closet to create a spot to hang coats and purses.
Describe your home's style in 5 words or less: Efficient creative quirky modern cozy
Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? I would have to say SJP's Carrie on Sex and the City. I know she doesn't like to cook as much as me, but she definitely values closet space as much as I do. I have always admired her apartment in the show, the layout was amazing. I think she would like the layout of mine as well.
Any advice for creating a home you love? I find it's really helpful to put my engineering skills to work and sketch an accurate scale drawing of the apartment, so I can draw out all kinds of possible configurations to find unique possibilities. But most importantly, I think you should start with the furniture you have and grow from there. Even though I was moving into a very different place, I kept a lot of the furniture that I had from my last apartment. At first a lot of it didn't fit right, but it gave me a starting point. I already had the dark wood shelves and once I set them in the space, I realized they would be a perfect counter if they were a little taller. So I found a small table on Craigslist, cut the legs off it and attached it to my shelves.
My IKEA closet also didn't quite fit when I first moved in; it stuck out 8" past the wall into the walkway. So I got a saw, and cut the corner off of it so it could fit better with my sloped ceilings. Starting with the furniture I already had allowed me to get creative with it, rather than be overwhelmed by starting over. And once everything was in place, I got the pullout couch and the dining table on Craigslist to supplement the furniture I had. If you're working with a small space, I think it's also important to make sure the items you bring in are things that are multi-functional and space efficient. For example, when not in use, my chairs all nest perfectly into my dining table — which also serves as my desk.
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour & House Call Submission Form.