A Cheerful 450-Square-Foot Studio in Historic Baltimore

A Cheerful 450-Square-Foot Studio in Historic Baltimore

Caitlyn Cartlidge
Sep 22, 2018

Name: Anna Saffer and Clementine the cat
Location: Mt. Vernon — Baltimore, Maryland
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

At only 450 square feet, it takes some flexibility to make this small space (an apartment carved from a historical Mt. Vernon townhouse) work. Somehow, Anna has managed to do that, despite several space challenges — like the kitchen being too small for the refrigerator. In fact, there is hardly room to move around in the kitchen at all, as it's basically a large closet. Thankfully, the beautiful living space makes up for that and more.

Anna's home is a space that celebrates compromises. Tall ceilings and big windows really make this space glow. The fireplace is a beautiful architectural feature in the apartment and helps to naturally anchor the open studio, while the living room area and breakfast nook are cleverly arranged to create two separate spaces.

Though Anna wisely decorated and filled her studio, she did need to add more storage to the space like a large IKEA closet in the bathroom to make up for the lack of closets in the main living space. The charmingly airy bathroom, complete with original fixtures and tiles, feels surprisingly spacious even with the addition of a separate closet.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic. Most of my furniture and decorations have been gifts, donations, or something from a thrift shop, so I've been challenged with making it all work together.

Inspiration: Provincial France. Mid-century design. John Robshaw textiles. Scandinavian furniture. Western ranch houses. Markets. Nick Wooster (thanks to my boyfriend). Everything and everyone has at least a little something to offer, if you keep your eyes open.

Favorite Element:
The natural light, high ceilings, and plants make the apartment feel nice and airy. I'm from Georgia, where most homes and apartments have a porch or deck, so it's hard not to have that personal outdoor space. The loads of light and plants help keep me happy when I'm stuck inside working all day. Most of the plants come from my mom's garden in Georgia, which make them even more special. Oh, and Clementine. Having a cute cat always helps.

Biggest Challenge:
Making a studio feel like more than just a bedroom and keeping it clean. If I have even a t-shirt thrown on the couch and a few papers on the desk, it makes the space look messy.

What Friends Say: I am in grad school, so most of my friends are amazed that I have so much stuff! They usually say something sweet about how everything actually works in such a small space. It's nice to have that encouragement, especially in my first solo apartment.

Biggest Embarrassment: Constantly setting breakable items on surfaces where they are easily knocked off. In a small space, I'm always knocking things over. A wine bottle fell off the fridge recently, my cat knocked brownies in a ceramic dish off a shelf, a wine glass fell of a counter while I was cleaning; it's a constant struggle.

Proudest DIY: The headboard — my mom and step-sister helped in the making of it. My mom and I searched through tons of fabric stores in Atlanta to find the perfect color and texture to make a versatile headboard. I love it!

Biggest Indulgence: Olive wood! A close family friend has a studio apartment in a tiny village in the south of France, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, and they have the best olive wood shop! Most recently, I splurged on a beautiful salad bowl and a set of knives. Olive wood is too beautiful to resist.

Best Advice: Only keep what you love. I moved in with way too much stuff and have been shedding unnecessary junk monthly. Happiness is probably inversely related to how much you own. And, the less junk you have, the easier it is to clean! I was one of those kids who couldn't find their floor under all the clothes thrown everywhere; now, I have learned that keeping a space clean can be so much more peaceful.

Dream Sources: The Gervasoni Ghost Collection includes my ultimate dream couch. Also, I hope to commission Kendrick Anderson, an Atlanta-based designer, for some custom made wooden furniture.


Rugs — World Market
Plant stand — Satsumas, Ikea
Couch — Soderhamn, Ikea
Record player — Crosley, Urban Outfitters
Chest and suitcases — passed down from family
Bookshelf — mysteriously left on front steps in college
Desk — on loan from a family friend
Lamps — Gifts/Donations from family and friends
Chairs — Mom's basement
Bistro table and chairs — yard sale
Dresser — I've had since childhood
Coffee bar — Craigslist
Sewing table nightstand — Mom's basement

Quilt — Frayed Diamond Jacquard, West Elm

Thanks, Anna!

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