Coffee with Carl in His Carriage House

published Jun 4, 2015
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(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Name: Carl Seeno
Location: Shaw; Washington, DC
Size: 375 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; rented

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Carl lives in the carriage house that’s attached to Jonathan and Colleen’s place, and when I peeked into his clean, stylish and seemingly spacious 375 square feet, there was no question: we’d have to take a tour of the carriage house, too!

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The view into the carriage house right when you walk in the door, immediately entering the kitchen. (Image credit: Natalie Grasso)
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

With that, Carl fired up the Nespresso machine, turned on alt-J, and told me more about his approach to decor like, first of all, how does he keep such a tiny apartment looking so crisp?

“I’ve had to be careful with what I bring in—even the smallest addition can take up strategic space,” he said. “I tried to maximize space and flow. I was incredibly stressed out about the dining table and couch fitting into the space before moving in, but they worked out great.”

It made me realize that a big table is kind of a genius small space move, delivering a sense of abundance of space for dining, gathering, working—you name it—things that you might not otherwise think you had room for in a tiny apartment.

“I’m big into cooking and photography, so I like to spread out and sift through cookbooks and design magazines,” he said. “When I was looking for a dining room table, I knew I needed something I could sprawl everything out on.”

That, and he needed space for coffee (Carl’s Instagram handle is theqahwa, which means “the coffee” in Arabic, and he’s sort of adopted the expression as a way of life).

“I have to be able to have a space to enjoy a nice cup of joe,” he said. “My life basically revolves around coffee, and I’m not ashamed of that.”

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern

Inspiration: Eames, Dwell, Apartamento, California Modern, Commune Design

Favorite Element: Tons of natural light!

Biggest Challenge: Keeping my feet warm in winter with the (gorgeous) cement floors.

What Friends Say: “This doesn’t feel like a studio” / “Have you put anything on those walls yet… ?” / “Your stove looks like a DJ stand” / “When you leave, this place is totally mine”

Biggest Embarrassment: Due to a combination of laziness and love of natural light, I never got around to installing a blind on my back living area window. Coincidentally, the window is at the exact level of garbage men hanging onto the back of garbage trucks. Needless to say, this has led to the DC Public Works and I getting intimately acquainted several times as I’ve gotten out of the shower in the morning…

Proudest DIY: I make a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies (but seriously: this apartment is killer, I haven’t even needed to do a DIY!).

Biggest Indulgence: The George Nelson platform bench. I’m mildly obsessed with the colors and lines.

Best Advice: Cleanliness. Always, especially when living in a studio. It makes all the difference, especially when having guests over at the last minute. And when your entire life space encompasses less than 400 square feet, who wants to sleep next to a pile of dirty dishes?

Dream Sources: Pretty much anything in any home in Dwell.


(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Sofa – Room & Board (via insane discount on Craigslist)
  • Pillow – Pendleton
  • Blanket – GoodWood
  • Rug – FLOR
  • Coffee table – Room & Board
  • TV stand – CB2
  • Speaker – Aether
  • Reading lamp – West Elm
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Table – West Elm
  • Chairs –
  • Folding bike – MOBIC
(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)


  • Bed – Ikea
  • Amethyst – Got it in California
  • Arabic alphabet print – Etsy
  • Closet shelving system – The Container Store

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Thanks, Carl!