House Tour: Tara’s Tiny San Francisco Hodge-Podge

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Tara
Location: San Francisco
Size: ~400 sq. ft.
Years lived in: 1.5

Just looking at the photos of Tara’s apartment, you’d swear she has several rooms to spread out in. You’d be wrong. She lives in less than 400 square feet, but it’s a casually elegant, uncluttered, and well-thought-out use of space. (She even fit a bedroom in a high-ceilinged walk-in closet.)

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My style: Currently it’s a hodge-podge of stuff found cheaply, either from craigslist, or Ikea. It’s a work in progress, for sure.

The inspiration for my home: I really admire David Netto and Tom Scheerer. They mix elegance and ease and create relaxed atmospheres that aren’t sloppy. (Does that make sense?) When I peek at their portfolios there are always rooms that make me want to enter the photo and curl up with a good book and enjoy my surroundings. I am constantly perusing design books (my favorite is “The New Apartment”) and reading various magazines and browsing the internet looking at photos (Thanks AT!) and wondering how I can incorporate some of the great ideas/looks into my own home. Truthfully, I’m over-inspired sometimes — I really like a lot of different looks and haven’t quite decided on my own. Yet.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Favorite element: My books. Currently they are stacked three deep on one cheap bookshelf. My dream is to one day have shelves and shelves of them and a big comfortable sofa on which to read them. Preferably a sofa next to a big window. Let other women collect purses and shoes…books for me, please. A close second is my kitchen. It’s ugly, but I like the fact that it is disproportionately large and is well suited for cooking.

Biggest challenge in designing my home: Fitting all of the areas that I want in my home—living room, dining room, bedroom, closet, etc.—into essentially big (er, tiny) room. I sacrificed a walk-in closet in order to make my place into a one-bedroom-esque apartment. It works for me.

What friends say about my home: “Wow. It’s really clean.” Or “You sleep in a closet? Doesn’t that make you feel claustrophobic?”

Biggest embarrassment in my home: I’m not a fan of the kitchen cabinets (ugly 70’s rental), the kitchen counter (underneath the contact paper it’s a horrid yellow) or the aging linoleum floors. So, I guess my biggest embarrassment is the kitchen. Also, I don’t have any art hung in the living room. Soon…

Proudest DIY: I thumbed my nose at the property management company and went ahead and painted my apartment. It was both harder and easier than I thought it would be. My advice: take your time with the prep work. It makes a difference. The place went from bland, masking-tape white to a pinky-purple gray that is more suited to my taste.

Biggest indulgence with respect to my home: I suppose the flat-screen television.

Best advice given or received: I really like William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Dream source for stuff: The Conran Store. Ochre. Any independent furniture maker. Any furniture that has “character” regardless of source.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)



  • All original to apartment. Well, I did buy the percolator/coffee maker – it’s a Cuisinart and I love it


  • Sadly, it’s all original to the apartment. Nothing fancy


  • The sofa is from a local store called Sphere Designs. It’s a knock-off of a DWR sofa, I believe
  • The tv/media cabinet, bookshelf, dining chairs, kitchen butcher block, and blue curtains are from Ikea
  • The dining table, entry table, side table, and lamp are all craigslist finds
  • The brown curtains (roman shades) are from Target


  • Pillows are Ikea and Crate and Barrel
  • Bed linens are Ralph Lauren
  • Black vase is a gift from Mexico


  • Lamp is from craigslist, but I think it’s a Target lamp


  • Ace Hardware (Silver Down in entryway, Pomona Pale in living room)


  • Original to apartment

    Rugs and Carpets:

  • Area rug is from Crate and Barrel

    Window Treatments:

  • IKEA (blue)
  • Target (brown)


  • Michel Sowa prints
  • Keep Calm poster is from UK

    Thanks, Tara!

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