Joe & Keith Share a Tiny & Inviting Oakland Studio

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Name: Joe Cafuir and Keith DeNatale
Location: Grand Lake—Oakland, California
Size: 300 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

It’s easy for a tiny apartment full of plants and tchotchkes to feel cluttered. But when done the right way—as Joe and Keith have with their tiny 300-square-foot studio—the space can be warm and inviting without feeling crammed or excessive. Even more challenging is fitting two different styles into such close quarters, but this studio manages to showcase a ton of personality and a sense of humor. Friends constantly tell the couple their space is a perfect combination of the two: Keith’s bright pink art and small figurines add a pop of color throughout the space, while Joe’s thriving plant collection provides a breath of fresh air.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Both Bay Area natives, Joe and Keith hit the jackpot when they moved into their Grand Lake apartment: They have a perfect view of the iconic Grand Lake Theatre sign, the Saturday farmer’s market is half a block away, and excellent restaurants and shops (including a great thrift store) are just outside their door. Though their street is busy at any given moment, the huge windows allow lots of light and fresh air to enter, which helps create a calm and comfortable space where the couple can relax.

In addition, the bright space allows Joe to indulge in his obsession with plants (he works as a landscape designer just half a block away) and Keith to work on his art. Joe is especially proud of a Pothos vine he got a few years ago that only had a few leaves but is now over 20 feet long and climbs up to their sleeping loft railing. “I’m not exactly sure how to describe the style of our home,” Joe said in his House Call. “We are not furniture snobs and we just like what we like—not a single style in particular. We sort of accumulated things over time and everything just seems to work together.”

(Image credit: Joe Cafuir)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Warm and inviting with a sense of humor. Filled to the brim with things we love.


Joe: Roberto Burle Marx landscapes

Keith: Reality TV, cartoons, and pink cake frosting

Favorite Element: The big windows and natural light, tall ceilings and old wood floors. We also love the view of the Grand Lake Theater sign (it lights up at night!) and the vibrant neighborhood. Keith likes his little studio under the loft because it’s the one place he’s allowed to leave a mess.

Biggest Challenge: Joe loves plants and Keith loves knickknacks, so it’s easy for our small place to start feeling cluttered.

What Friends Say: “Can I live with you guys?”

Biggest Embarrassment: Maybe our IKEA sofa because it is about as elegant as a cardboard box. BUT it opens up into a super comfy sofa bed perfect for watching movies, so we actually love it. Function over form here.

Proudest DIY: Probably our bookshelves, not because they are anything special, but because they are strong enough to hold all of Keith’s books and tchotchkes.

Biggest Indulgence: HD + DVR

Best Advice: Fill your home with things that make you happy. Really fill it up—then learn where to take cover in case of an earthquake.

Dream Sources: The Memphis Design Store and eBay



  • All walls: Landlord’s Choice
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Drafting table: Craigslist
  • Metal lab stool: School Outfitters
  • Filing cabinet: CB2
  • Bookshelves: DIY
  • Metal shelf: CB2
  • Prints, posters, cutouts and toys: found items, gifts from friends
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Rug: hand-me-down from Joe’s parents
  • Chrome lamp: CB2
  • Small hand: Urban Indigo
  • Sofa: IKEA
  • Throw pillows: Zoë Miyori Fujii
  • Coffee table: DIY
  • Glass vase: from brother’s wedding, painted by Keith
  • Plant stand: hand-me-down from great friends/the previous tenants
  • TV stand: Treasure Island Flea Market
  • Usu (mortar) used as planter: from Japan from Keith’s aunt
  • Plants and pots: Cactus Jungle in Berkeley, Grand Lake Ace Hardware in Oakland, Dry Garden in Oakland
  • Keith Haring blocks: Vilac
  • Brad Forever mirror: James Franco for THE THING Quarterly
  • Sculpey heads: Keith DeNatale
  • 24-hour wall clock: Tauba Auerbach for THE THING Quarterly
  • Wrestlers on newsprint: Ben McNutt
  • Screen print above TV: John-Patrick Thomas
  • Fingers illustration: Christopher Robert Jones
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Dining table and bench: IKEA, painted and stained by Joe and Keith
  • Side table: Eco Thrift in Vallejo
  • Fisher audio system: hand-me-down from a good friend
  • Windsor armchairs: Urban Furniture in Oakland
  • Seat cushions: Safe House USA
  • Glass vase: from brother’s wedding, painted by Keith
  • Plant stand: hand-me-down from great friends/the previous tenants
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Butcher block table: Keith’s aunt
  • Stools:
  • Red hardware cart: Ace Hardware
  • Clamp lamp: Home Depot
  • Cat clock: Oceana Market in Pacifica via Keith’s mom
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Bed sheets: IKEA
  • Prints: Keith
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Towel: Target
  • Bath mat: IKEA
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


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Joe and Keith’s Oakland studio is 300 square feet but features a ton of personality. (Image credit: Joe Cafuir)

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Thanks, Joe & Keith!