From “Hideous” to Cozy: 400 Square Feet of DIY Style

updated Feb 19, 2019

From “Hideous” to Cozy: 400 Square Feet of DIY Style

updated Feb 19, 2019
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Name: Carlee and family
Location: San Luis Obispo, California
Size: 400 square feet
Years lived in: Renting 6 years

Carlee writes: “My husband and I rented a granny unit studio that was 400 square feet. We were just teenagers when we first moved in and couldn’t afford much, which is why we decided to rent it. The perk was that while it was hideous as all get out, our landlord was willing to let us do whatever we wanted to the place. When we first moved in it was covered head-to-toe in wood paneling and ceiling tiles. We tore everything down, textured the walls, painted the cabinets and redid the floors. We even decided to stay here after I found out I was pregnant and converted the sunroom into a baby room.”

“We knew that being a rental there was always a chance we would have to leave and after living here for six years they have finally asked us to move out so their family can move in. But we put a ton of work into this place and are so proud of the changes we have made. We want to share with others that living in a tiny space is very doable and worth the effort.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Mid-century Meets Eclectic

Inspiration: I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to inspiration. I love bright pops of color but I also swoon over that stark white modern kind of feel. I think that with having a toddler stark white is clearly not an option and while it looks pretty, it’s just not as inviting. I wanted our little place to be cozy so I tried my best to incorporate the two.

Favorite Element: We are lovers of dark wood so we tried to incorporate it throughout our house without making the place seem too enclosed in. Our favorite piece is our kitchen bar. We found it floating in the ocean one day and drug it home with us and it really helped tie everything together.

Biggest Challenge: Such a small space. With little to no storage you have to forgo a lot of things you like because they wont fit or they would fit but it would look cluttered. There wasn’t much room to put things like towels, extra sheets and we had to share a small closet so things felt a bit tight.

What Friends Say: They love our little place. While it is very small it is cozy and warm feeling. A bunch of property surrounds us so even when it feels small it is very open outside.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably that our son sleeps in the same room with the washing machine and dryer. Although at this point he is very used to it and it’s become more of noise machine for him.

Proudest DIY: Honestly a lot in our house is DIY but I love our honeycomb shelves that my husband and I made together. I also love the footboard my husband made’ it has a top that flips open and our TV pops out and I can also store linens and things in there as well.

Biggest Indulgence: The brass pulls on the cabinets. We debated for weeks on getting them and I couldn’t be happier with them.

Best Advice: Living in a small space can feel overwhelming and a bit stressful but you can make anything work as long as you think outside the box. Paint is always your friend.

Dream Sources: I am in love with Beth Kirby’s (Local Milk Blog) work.


Accent wall Ashwood Behr
Main Walls Irish Mist Behr
Bathroom and Bedroom Accent Wall Cracked Pepper Behr

Rug, Pink Pillow, Striped Blanket — IKEA
Drop Pendant
Media Console —Urban Outfitters
Yellow Chair & Mirror — Vintage
Sectional — Eaton Contemporary
Honey Comb Shelves — Handmade

Kitchen Bar and floating shelves — Handmade
Clock — Crate and Barrel
White Pendant lights – IKEA
Brass Pulls — My
Bar Stools— World Market

Rug — IKEA
Circle Mirror — CB2
Bed Spread — IKEA

Letter board — Letterfolk
Shower Curtain — Urban Outfitters
Toilet Paper Holder — Hand

Thanks, Carlee and family!

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