A Baker’s “Hip Grandma” Small Studio Apartment in Chicago

updated Feb 19, 2019

A Baker’s “Hip Grandma” Small Studio Apartment in Chicago

updated Feb 19, 2019
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Square feet
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Name: Ursula
Location: Logan Square — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 500 square feet studio
Years lived in: Renting for 8 months

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Turning a 500-square-foot studio into a visually vibrant and cozy home that feels personal and looks great is no small feat, but that’s exactly what Ursula has done with her Logan Square apartment — an apartment she took sight unseen when she decided to move from Los Angeles to Chicago to pursue a career as a baker. Her story and her studio are equally impressive.

I loved Ursula’s approach to setting up her studio because she does her research and then trusts her own judgement. That kind of confidence goes a long way, as she was able to take a fairly small and boxy space and create a home that feels personal without being cluttered, that works for having friends over, and that allows her to engage in her passion of baking. She’s a professional baker and, despite moving into a studio with a small, narrow kitchen with virtually no storage, she’s created a pretty and incredibly efficient kitchen where she can create at home. Taking what you have and making it into what you want is the lesson I learned from Ursula — and it’s a good lesson.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy meets Mid-Century Modern, like your hip grandma.

Inspiration: For style inspiration, I centered my apartment around two pieces: my red coffee table (which I’ve had since my first apartment in San Francisco during college) and my record cabinet — built by a friend back in LA, Darren Crandell. I love how wood and deep reds go together, so I kept it as a theme throughout my place.

For layout inspiration, Apartment Therapy! I already owned all of my current furniture before I moved to Chicago from LA but I had to work with the smaller size I was given for my new home. I spent weeks looking at studio layouts on the website before my cross-country move to Chicago; it helped a TON.

Favorite Element: Wall of aprons. A couple years ago friends and family just started giving them to me. Not because I was a collector but just because they figured it was an easy gift for a baker’s birthday and Christmas. Now it’s totally become a thing and I’m very proud of them! Unfortunately most are too pretty to wear while I’m making a mess in the kitchen.

Biggest Challenge: The kitchen. It’s so long and narrow! There’s a massive radiator smack dab in front of the window, so putting in a table would have looked bulky and ruined any chance of more counter space. As a professional baker, I definitely use my kitchen a lot so I opted for makeshift “bar seating” that I could tuck away for when I’m using the prep table.

What Friends Say: “This is a studio? If I lived here it definitely wouldn’t look like this.” (Aw, shucks.)

Biggest Embarrassment: All the holes in my walls from when I was learning how to use a power drill! I definitely like to wing it with DIY projects. Never measure, never level, just go by eyesight util it seems okay. That’s why all holes have been “artfully” covered by myriad wall hangings. Much easier than drywall plaster.

Proudest DIY: My bar counter and hanging step ladders beneath. I wanted somewhere to sit in my kitchen and finally decided to measure my dinner plates and find a shelf that was just wider than them. Then as I was scouring the IKEA website for bar stools, I noticed the wooden step-ladders (which came with wall mountings) and instantly geeked out over doubling them as seating.

Biggest Indulgence: My West Elm couch and nightstand. Totally worth it but yeah…they’re the most expensive things I’ll ever own.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to throw stuff out. I spent years clinging to hand-me-downs just because they were free and I “might use them someday” when I got more space. Keep the things you’re proud of, trash the rest, and keep an open floor so you can walk through your door every day and feel at ease.

Dream Sources: I’m very into supporting independent woodworkers, their craft is hard earned and under appreciated. For everything else, drown me in West Elm and Sur la Table.

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More Resources:

Chosen by property group

red entry table—gift

Peggy Sofa — West Elm
Red Coffee Table — Urban Ore warehouse in Oakland, CA (one of a kind, sorry!)
Rug — Urban Outfitters, couldn’t find online anymore
Huckleberry cookbook — Amazon
“Wish You Were Here” drawing and tattoo zine — Gianni Gigliotti (IG: @gin.gian)
Seinfeld Cross stitch — Lara Simon (IG: @thriftkitty)
Record Shelf — custom built by Darren Crandell


Flytta kitchen cart — IKEA
Bekvam stepladder — IKEA
Red chair — gift
Sheer Curtains — Target

Mid-Century Nightstand — West Elm
Pillowcases — Target and Bed Bath & Beyond
Linen duvet cover — Bed Bath & Beyond
Billy bookcase — IKEA

Thanks, Ursula!

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