A 500-Square-Foot Boho Chic San Francisco Studio

updated Apr 30, 2019

A 500-Square-Foot Boho Chic San Francisco Studio

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Mallory Guraya
Location: The Marina — San Francisco, California
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

For over a year, Mallory has called this adorable little studio in the hip Marina neighborhood her home. The broadcast producer was born and raised in California and has East Indian roots. Her style gravitates toward bold colors, rustic trinkets, and dhurrie rugs, while adding touches of the Golden State through beach accents like seashells. “I grew up in California, so I love incorporating a bit of beach into my style- like seashells I’ve collected that remind me of the ocean,” she says.

Mallory is proud of her collectibles that she brings home from her travels. Each piece tells a story and reminds her of places she’s been to. Like the watercolor painting hanging above the bed of two nude tango dancers; it was purchased on a backpacking trip through Argentina with her last $50.

“I knew I had to have it after talking with the artist and hearing how passionate he was about creating it. He also used a mix of cafe con leche and vintage lace,” Mallory remembers.

Besides her day job, Mallory follows her passion of interior design through her side project, Collected Style.

“I’ve always loved interior styling and textiles. I’m constantly moving things around and playing with the placement of various items, and I’ve always got my eye out for unique pieces. I was receiving so many compliments from friends on my decorating style that I decided to start a brand for myself, Collected Style (@collectedstyle), and style for others in my free time.”

When Mallory is not relaxing in her living room, she also loves to spend time in her kitchen cooking or sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, Bohemian Chic

Inspiration: Growing up in California by the beach and being half Indian has really inspired my style. I also love textiles and patterns; I gravitate toward dhurrie rugs and Moroccan rugs because of their patterns and colors. It’s important that my “home” feels special and personal to me, but also inviting to anyone who steps inside. The beach, my travels, and my East Indian roots all blend to inspire me to create my surroundings that spark happiness and delight when guests enter my home.

Favorite Element: I love that almost everything has a bit of a story to it and each item collected along my travels is really special to me. When someone compliments a rug, art piece, or photograph I have a story that goes along with it. It feels great sharing that experience with someone else. It makes that object feel even more special and gives me a sense of pride. I guess if I had to choose something specifically though, it would be my growing art and photography collection. A lot of it is by friends, myself, souvenirs from travelling, or collectors’ items that I treasure.

Biggest Challenge: The size and storage. I love to entertain and it’s definitely challenging in such a small space. But having the additional seating under the bay windows (wicker chair and ottoman) really help. Also, due to the small size, I lack storage space. I can’t continue to buy large souvenirs, like rugs, on my travels! When I see something I love, I have to bring it home with me — even if it’s not for my use. You never know when you can use it while styling someone else’s place. However, I try to repurpose items to make up for the lack of storage space. For instance, I utilize my vintage dresser in the living room as a TV stand and my wall heater holds extra books and trinkets. The silver lining though is that it keeps me extremely tidy; everything has a place in my apartment. I keep a minimalist mindset when it comes to hanging on to things or purchasing anything new as well.

What Friends Say: My friends are always impressed with how I have such varying colors, patterns, and textures but it all works together really well. Friends usually comment on how comfortable and inviting my place is too, which makes me so happy to hear! The sunlight floods through my bay windows and my friends love the way I’ve mindfully positioned my furniture to take advantage of the light and view. It helps with that cozy and warm feeling.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the amount of clothes I have in my closet that I don’t wear! I could use that space for storing more apartment decor!

Proudest DIY: This might not be a true DIY, but I love taking photographs when I’m traveling. I took all the photos and designed the custom frames/sizes to create my gallery wall.

Biggest Indulgence: Probably my West Elm sofa. I had an old, low futon that had seen its days. I fell in love with this sofa and the sleek design really elevated the look of my apartment. Since it’s such a focal point in my place, I wanted to make sure it was something I’d be proud of. And that it was just long enough to allow friends to crash on it if needed!

Best Advice: Curate the pieces you collect so they have meaning and purpose to you. Make sure you love your choices so you’re happy with what you’re looking at or using. I try to choose items that not only make me happy but that can also be part of a functional design. I’m not a fan of clutter so things need to have a purpose, meaning, or sentimental value. Just remember that your surroundings are really an expression of who you are and what makes you happy and content when you are living in your space.

Dream Sources: One King’s Lane has so many varying styles, I love shopping their site. Their photography really inspires me too, the way they feature so many different styles gives me a ton of ideas. HD Buttercup is another amazing store that I could get lost in for days, can’t wait until I can afford to shop there!


Coat Rack- Anthropologie

“Mr. Spray Can”- Original Shepard Fairey/Obey print
“Andy Warhol”- Original Shepard Fairey/Obey print
“The Pet” photograph- Friend Lenny Foster, Taos, NM
Antique lock+key- Brought these back from Nepal
Bell Wind Chime- Brought this back from Nepal
Rug- Pottery Barn

Standing mirror- Scored this at a consignment shop.
Crosby Sofa Pebble Weave, Shale- West Elm
Textured White Linen Pillows- Pottery Barn
Turkish Kilim Pillow- handmade in Turkey, purchased in Santa Fe, NM.
Cozy Texture Throw- West Elm
Mirror Side Tables- Target
Mirrored Lamps- vintage, my mom found these at an estate sale in New Mexico and let me take them.
Glassybaby candles- Glassybaby
Wicker Chair- Target
Icelandic Sheepskin Chair Pad- CB2
Diamond Dot Throw Blanket- West Elm
Green Velvet Ottoman- vintage. Found this at a vintage shop when I used to live in LA and had to have it.
Mercury Tealights- West Elm
Dresser- vintage, from my mom.
Bookcase- handmade in California.
Wooden and Marble Elephants (in bookshelf)- Handmade, brought these back with me from India.
Seashells in bookshelf- All seashells were collected by me on various trips- Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, Hawaii, Portugal, Italy…to name a few.
Elephant bookends- One Kings Lane
Heath Ceramics Bud Vase- Heath Ceramics
Dhurrie rug- I purchased this rug on my trip to India. I agonized for hours over a few beautiful ones and landed on this, it fits perfectly with my overall color scheme.
Kasbah Wool Rug- West Elm
Sheepskin rug- Carried this home from the Cotswolds, UK. The sheep were raised right there in the English countryside.
Hadley Ruched Duvet Cover- Pottery Barn
Ikat + Floral Pillows on bed- Pottery Barn
White floral pillows on bed- handmade/hand embroidered, brought these back from my trip to San Gimignano, Italy.
Dream-catcher- Urban Outfitters
Flowers- JSM Organics www.jsmorganicsfarm.com

Painted Elephant above bookshelf- Painted by a family friend.
“Baiana do Acarajé”- My friend made this, Fabio Benedetto. http://benestuff.com
Nude tango dancers- This is hand-made with water colors, splashes of café con leche, and antique lace (for the woman’s garter belt). I purchased this with my last $50 while backpacking in Argentina- it was between this or dinner that night and I opted for the keepsake.
Gallery Wall: All photos taken by me in India and Nepal; Circle of Life print was handmade by monks in Nepal (I traveled back with this).

Dhurrie rug- This is one of the rugs I brought back with me from India.
Dining Table- Handmade in California.
Clock- Ikea

Shower Curtain + towels- Target

Thanks, Mallory!

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