An Absolutely Adorable 400-Square-Foot San Francisco Studio

updated Feb 19, 2019

An Absolutely Adorable 400-Square-Foot San Francisco Studio

updated Feb 19, 2019
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Name: Adrianne Hawthorne
Location: Lower Pacific Heights, San Francisco
Size: 400 square feet
Years Lived In: Renting 1.5

Adrianne’s studio apartment, perched high up in a Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, is an oasis of color and unique details. The thoughtfulness of each item placed in her home isn’t surprising; Adrianne works as a visual designer by trade!

From Chicago, Adrianne originally planned to rent a one-bedroom apartment upon moving to San Francisco but quickly decided that a studio would be the way to go. With a smaller space, she wasn’t worried about having enough stuff to fill it up. Instead, she was able to focus on only bringing in items that brought her joy. Between the bright, airy light from the window next to her bed to her sweet cats cuddled up when we visited, we can confirm: this sweet studio in the heart of the city is simply delightful.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Polished, textured, bold and quirky. I love simple, clean lines that are softened by pattern and texture.

Inspiration: Color. I’m a visual designer by trade and I always browse color palettes when I have a creative block — it usually gets me back on track. I took the same approach with my studio. The first thing I did when I moved here was create a mood board with color swatches, which I referenced throughout the decorating process. I’m also inspired by Emily Henderson, Anthropologie, Free People, The Brick House blog, The Jungalow blog, and Apartment Therapy (which is the reason I rented a studio in the first place — I was so inspired by the Small Cool spaces I saw!)

Favorite Element: A vintage Martini & Rossi vermouth bottle from what I think is the 1950s. To anyone who doesn’t know the story, the bottle looks like trash on display. Which it is, but it’s memorable trash, since I salvaged it from my great-grandmother’s original home in Campagna, Italy last summer. My sister and I were able to track down her home and go inside. This bottle was on the ground so I took it and I’m glad I did — it makes me feel a connection to my ancestors and my Italian heritage.

Biggest Challenge: The kitchen. It’s dark and has black countertops paired with maple colored wood. I wasn’t sure how to work with it when I moved in but decided to brighten it in any way that I could. I started by covering the dark tile floor with a bold, striped runner. I added lots of framed prints in white or gold frames, plants in white pots and white linens. Even though the black counters still aren’t my fave, the space feels brighter than it did when I first moved in.

What Friends Say: Friends comment on the detailed “nooks” that I’ve built in nearly every corner of the studio. They are impressed that I was able to inject so many deeply personal items into my decor.

Biggest Embarrassment: I have a few prints where the framing is slightly off (things like the mat is half an inch too large…) and I haven’t gotten around to fixing them. Also, I eyeballed my gallery wall and sometimes I notice the imperfections…but it depends on the day.

Proudest DIY: The pipe shelf in the living room area. I built it with my dad and back then, it was twice the size. Part of the shelf was damaged during my move to California, so I reconfigured the pipes and created a smaller version that fits perfectly into my new space.

Biggest Indulgence: Custom Joybird sofa. When I downsized to a studio from a one bedroom, I knew I’d want a comfy sofa to sleep on if I had guests. Not only is it comfortable, but it turned out exactly like I imagined. Choosing the swatch was the hardest part — I went back and forth between neutrals and bolds for at least a week. I finally settled on Bentley Daisy (textured yellow) because it was somewhere between super-bold and a safe-neutral. Plus, yellow has been my favorite color since kindergarten so I figured I couldn’t go wrong!

Best Advice: Only keep the things that give you joy. I got this from Marie Kondo’s famous book on tidying, but man did it help me downsize when I moved here from Chicago. I followed this advice and because of it, I come home every day to a place that calms me, inspires me and makes me happy – my own personal sanctuary.

Dream Sources: Vintage flea markets, Restoration Hardware, Design Within Reach, and Edgewater Antique Mall in Chicago





  • Bar Stools – Amazon
  • Pink and gold tray – souvenir from Austria
  • Wood vase – handmade by my great-grandfather
  • “A” Marquee
  • Macrame Plant Holder – Wild Feather in San Francisco
  • “Flesh Out” briefcase from a collaborative art piece I did with Franchec Crespo in 2013 – Shown at Typeforce in Chicago
  • Pink Saddle Shoes – Famous Footwear circa 1991
  • Gold Record Stand – an original from my mom’s apartment back in the day
  • Calisa Block Print rug – Urban Outfitters


  • Quilt in Cream – Target
  • Vintage Kilim Throw –
  • Nyvoll Bedframe in gray wood – IKEA
  • Gold Vintage plant stand – Etsy
  • DIY Terrarium – Juicy Kits
  • Trones Storage Cabinet aka nightstand – IKEA
  • Curtains and hardware in both rooms – IKEA
  • Vintage Red Dresser – Vintage Ground in Chicago
  • MCM “Bulbous” Ceramic Lamp – Seek Vintage in Noble Square, Chicago
  • Quartz gold clock with glass dome – inherited from my grandfather
  • Vintage Lucite Purse in green – gift from my aunt


  • Chimp Pope original art print – JessianPress on Etsy
  • Threshold Mirrored Etched Accent Table – old Target find
  • Shower Curtain – Target
  • Metal Cat print – Dirty Lola on Etsy



Thanks, Adrianne!

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