A Tiny 1920s Cottage Has It All in Only 450 Square Feet

published Jan 5, 2016
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Name: Raya Leary
Location: Central District — Seattle, Washington
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented

Raya Leary is a young woman of great intention and taste. When it comes to furnishing her tiny 450-square-foot house in Seattle’s Central District, these two strengths come into equal play. Her unique brand of utilitarian minimalism, with a bias towards the classic style of the Pacific Northwest, is the perfect approach for outfitting the cozy 1920s cottage she calls home.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Raya is very thoughtful about each item that she brings into her home, preferring to support local and sustainable small businesses over large corporations whenever possible. Her eye for design tends to favor goods that echo the craftsmanship of bygone eras, in neutral and earthy tones and textures. She is what one would call “an old soul,” and her soft spot for heritage-inspired design makes each room in her house feel warm and grounded.

The layout and organization throughout the space demonstrate Raya’s commitment to function, as well as her love of good form. Her minimalist choices and space-saving tricks are somehow still a testimony to her witty and playful personality, as well as to her strong visual sensibilities. Thanks for letting us tour your cozy tiny cottage, Raya!

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)
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Raya poses for a portrait on the front stoop of her 450-square-foot Craftsman cottage. (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Meaningful, warm, and simple.

Inspiration: I’m inspired by natural materials, classic colors, found objects, and timeless modern design.

Favorite Element: I love nearly every item I own, so I’d have to say the house itself! This little bungalow is charming, perfectly-sized, full of light, and well laid-out.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping (some of) my plants alive! Despite having spent a summer doing organic farming, I’m not much of a green thumb. I would say one out of every ten plants I own will meet an untimely end.

What Friends Say: “This is so you.”

Biggest Embarrassment: I have yet to find a desk that I both love and can afford, so the longtime stand-in has been this handmade shop table I found on the side of the road. It’s not horrible, but it’s not quite right, and it drives me nuts. A close second is probably the adorable patio that I still haven’t furnished after a year of living here.

Proudest DIY: My bedside light was once a ’70s lamp called Aristotle’s Lantern that originally came with a genuine sea urchin shell shade. I loved the look of the California redwood base so I ditched the urchin and mounted it on the wall with a clear bulb that would mimic the Edison look.

Biggest Indulgence: I exhaust most of my indulgent tendencies on clothing and food. But in the home, there are two equal splurges: my cookware set and turntable setup.

Best Advice: My method is to surround myself with beautiful, classic, utilitarian things—not too many, and never become too attached to them. But to each her own!

Dream Sources: I’m a big fan of Schoolhouse Electric and Kaufmann Mercantile. I want to own almost everything from Objects of Use!


Rug — vintage
Sheepskin duster — IKEA
Totes — Indian Summer Vintage, Central Co-op, Civilization Design Firm
Piano bench — family heirloom

Table — made by Chais Kinder, purchased from Rose Gold Seattle
Credenza/dresse —: vintage from Space Oddity
Brass candelabra — Glasswing
Speakers — Audioengine
String of fishhooks plant — Glasswing
FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY sign — grandparents’ house
Rug — antique from Assemblage Seattle
Amish wood crate — Kaufmann Mercantile
Painting — Feast Your Eyes by JD Banke

Bread board — IKEA
Garbage can — IKEA
Fruit crate — antique
Hand magnets — Togetherness Design
Bottle brush — Canoe
Cookwear — Cuisinart
Tea kettle — vintage from Etsy
Wooden utensils — gifted, thrifted

Rug — thrifted
Desk — found on the side of the road
Brass letter holder — Glasswing
Abacus — vintage from Fremont Market
Photograph — vintage Werner Bischof print
Alarm clock — ’80s Sony from Indian Summer Vintage
Extension cord — Extō from Glasswing

Shower curtain — vintage
Paint-by-numbers — vintage from Admiralty House Antiques
Garbage can — IKEA
Toothbrush cups — homemade

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Thanks, Raya!