Ben’s Tiny But Comfy 250 Square Foot Studio

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Name: Ben Steinbauer, Filmmaker, Man About Town
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 250 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 1 year

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Ben’s home is the perfect example of not needing a lot of space or expensive furniture to create the kind of home you want to hang out in. Under 300 square feet (not counting the outdoor deck), his home — a compact studio he rents in the backyard of a Central Austin house — is filled with vintage scores, art by creative friends, and records.

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You can find Ben’s small backyard studio tucked behind a purple house on a quiet street in Central Austin. (Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)
(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

If Ben’s style looks a little familiar, it might be because we toured an old apartment of his a few years ago. His current home of a year doesn’t have as much room, but it packs the same friendly dose of “sit down and stay awhile” that is his own brand of personal style.

(Photographer’s note: The sun was going down on me pretty rapidly when I shot Ben’s place, so interior shots might feel a bit brighter than the evening outdoor shots.)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Nostalgic and comfortable. Nostalgic because most of the wood furniture and art pieces were made by friends and comfortable because it’s designed for reading, listening to records and socializing.

Inspiration: My mother’s kitchen and my grandfather’s piano studio. And also my friends, Berndt Mader, Christie Zangrilli, Bradley Beesley and Lily Walker, have design sensibilities that continue to inspire.

Favorite Element: The front deck which I built with my dad. I also love the loft bed. Both make me feel like I live in a tree house.

Biggest Challenge: It’s so big! How do I fill all this space?

What Friends Say: “You live here?” But then they sit on the porch and have a cocktail beneath the canopy while listening to records and they say, “I’d love to live here!”

Biggest Embarrassment: Too big.

Proudest DIY: Building the deck with my dad. He is a doctor and not a builder, but he engineered the deck so that a circus elephant could stand on it.

Biggest Indulgence: My biggest indulgence, period, is my record collection. But I wouldn’t say that’s about furnishing my home. I do love the way big record collections look, but I love them more for the way they sound.

Best Advice: Envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide. And don’t order fish on Monday.


(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)


  • Lawnmower painting by Ben Dowell
  • Wooden bookcase by Jeff Steinbauer
  • Wooden record cabinets by Jeff Steinbauer
  • The map came from a one-room school house in Kansas and is completely outdated. It has a map on the other side that is just the US but I like the world map much better.
  • The yellow chair is from a vintage store in Los Angeles. I don’t remember the name but I know it was on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
  • The gray chair came from Craigslist and was a total score! I wanted something that was 18% gray, like a lot of the wall paint in the editing rooms I spend time in. Plus it reclines!
(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)


  • Le Creuset pots
  • Kitchen shelves bought at Home Depot — Hung by me and Berndt Mader
(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)


  • Painting by Jason Archer
  • Shotgun shell Christmas lighting by Richard Linklater
(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)


(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)


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Thanks, Ben!