Danielle’s Small & Stylish Urban Cottage

published Oct 7, 2014
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(Image credit: Belathée Photography)

Name: Danielle Bellert
Location: Between Wallingford and Fremont; Seattle, Washington
400 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; Rented

What would you do with 400 square feet of space? If you’re anything like Danielle Bellert, you would style it up adorably and live with intent. Located between the bustling neighborhoods of Wallingford and Fremont in Seattle, this tiny cottage is a one-room wonder, complete with lofted bedroom.

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(Image credit: Belathée Photography)

Danielle’s biggest challenge is, of course, finding storage space where there is none. The living room, dining room, and office are all in one large room, with separate walkway/kitchen and small bathroom. She admits that organizing is tough, but that the payoff of living simply is worth it: “Being forced to reduce your belongings is hard. There is sentimental value, the item you were so proud to own that won’t fit, the closet space… oh the closet space. I am a former Nordstrom employee, so needless to say, I have a lot of clothes, not to mention the shoes. But you learn over time that having stuff does not make a home. For me, it was having a space that I was comfortable in and having less stuff has opened up space for many other things.”

Before she moved to the cottage, Danielle was used to the space of a standard two-bedroom house. She chose to downsize when the cottage became available for a variety of reasons—the most important reasons being to save money and belong to the community (the cottage is close to her office, and good friends live nearby). The small space is functional yet thoughtfully-designed, and full of life and intent.

“I own my own business, BDR-studio, a graphic design and letterpress studio. Being a creative person, I wanted a space that reflected my personality and added to my inspiration before, after or even during work. As a designer, I took extra care in choosing my pieces. A lot of the bigger items in my home were found at estates sales, which meant that the price was right and my design preferences became secondary. Fortunately I was able to make up for that by incorporating art work of my own and several found objects and collections that have grown over the years.”

(Image credit: Belathée Photography)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: It varies—I am a graphic designer and letterpress printer, so I over-analyze the details. I do my best to keep my large items simple while incorporating smaller items and found objects that can easily be replaced, changed or rearranged; giving myself the illusion that my stuff is new and exciting.

Inspiration: Patterns, color, travel, old books and letterpress paraphernalia.

Favorite Element: My main wall. As you can see I have a lot of stuff…and about 2 years into living in the cottage I wanted a better place to put it. I love that I can see all of my collections all of the time.

Biggest Challenge: Storage—there isn’t any. All that you see is all that I have. I have a bike hanging from the ceiling and chairs being stored on banisters. Luckily one of my bikes is cute, so she can be part of the look. Otherwise it’s all out there, and stacked high!

What Friends Say: “Holy @#$%, how did you fit all this in here!” and “You have to climb that ladder everyday? I would fall.”

Biggest Embarrassment: The peeling paint on the ceiling. I desperately need to get a ladder and sand/re-paint that.

Proudest DIY: All of the custom shelves I made for exposed storage. I love the shelves in the living area, but I am especially fond of the ones in the kitchen. I built them by myself (I had help with the others) while having no idea what to do…I knew studs were important, but that’s about it. Cooking is one of my favorite things, so when I can walk into my (hallway) kitchen and have everything exposed it makes me very happy.

Biggest Indulgence: The blinds. The cottage is a rental so I didn’t want to invest too heavily. Installing the top-down-bottom-up blinds made a huge difference in the lighting and the overall look of the space.

Best Advice: Live simply and be mindful. While living in such a small space you are forced to pair down your items and stick to what you need, while also being mindful of the way that you store and place those items. Sometimes I feel like the cottage is a Russian Tea Doll, there is stuff, in stuff, in stuff.

Dream Sources: Schoolhouse Electric, Design Within Reach, West Elm, Antique Malls

(Image credit: Belathée Photography)

Resources of Note:


• Nothing exciting, whatever the landlord painted it before moving in
• Art: all of it is mine with the exception of one piece from Jenny Vorwaller and one piece from Alan Rushing)


• Wall Shelves: DIY: Home Depot • IKEA PS Cabinet

• Couch: Estate Sale • Coffee Table: Estate Sale • Chairs: Estate Sale and DIY reupholstered • Coat Rack: DIY: Home Depot

• Dining Room Table: Old Auction House Table (thrifted)


• Corner Shelves: DIY: Home Depot
• Kitchen Cart: IKEA


• IKEA PS Cabinet
• Pottery Barn Kids Duvet (the other side has a hilarious giant butterfly, but the stripes are pretty!)
• Pillows: Brian Paquette Interiors

(Image credit: Belathée Photography)

Thanks, Danielle!

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