Jose’s Super Small & Stylish 275 Square Foot Apartment

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Jose Alejandro Aparicio
Location: East Los Angeles, California
Size: 275 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years— rent

Jose lives in a converted 275 square foot apartment that was added on to the back of his parents family home. He has utilized each and every inch of the space and decorated with modern contemporary finds from Ikea and Craigslist. I was quite impressed that with just the few design and furniture resources he lists, how cohesive and well executed his apartment is. Stepping foot in his home you feel a welcoming sense of warmth, family and friends.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

As an older sibling who wanted to stay close to home, Jose rents out the converted unit in the back of his family home. Not only did he tear down and rebuild the space to create this quaint junior one bedroom, but he completed the bathroom and kitchen himself. Each corner of his home is detailed with minimalistic and modern sensibility.

There is a ton of artwork, books, and rich cozy colors that make this home quite inviting. One of my favorite features was his little DIY eco fireplace, which he made by mixing rubbing alcohol and lemon and enclosed it inside a tall glass vase. Paintings by various friends cover each wall and tell stories from all over the place. There is a very clean graphic element with the help of IKEA and mid century modern furniture. This is the first home I’ve seen in a long time that gives true meaning to living well in a small space.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Clean lined light wood furniture with white blue and red accents, and a little quirky.

Inspiration: Swedish + Japanese furniture + Mexican colors with a dash of Make it Work. I really enjoy the clean lines, light wood tones, and neutral accents of Swedish and Japanese furniture, but I also love the boldness of Mexican design. My parent came to the US with nothing to their names, so I didn’t inherit any furniture or physical objects, but they did instill in me love for friends and family, and I like to put things that remind me of that in my house.

Favorite Element: The artwork. It is almost all original, and most of it is from friends or people I’ve met personally. The small pieces on canvas boards were done by friends. I mailed out to friends: canvas boards with pre-stamped shippers with the request they put something blue on it, and mail it back. It could be any medium they wanted, and the make it blue (though that part was not a hard rule). For about the cost of a couple posters I had a wealth of original artwork from all over the world.

Biggest Challenge: Lack of light. So much effort has gone into getting as much light into the space as possible (taking down walls, using glass doors, mirrors) from the few small windows. The other particularly difficult thing to over come was in the kitchen, several pipes protrude from the wall, which means the fridge and stove don’t go all the way back. This meant no real backslash, and a gap between the back of the stove and the wall, that I filled with a picture shelf.

What Friends Say: I can’t believe you can do so much in such a little space, and, “its so cute!” – heh.

Biggest Embarrassment: The Knoll chair really needs to be reupholstered, but I love the current fabric on it so much that I am weary of changing it. My next project will be to find a similar/identical fabric and finally get it done.

Proudest DIY: Besides installing the kitchen, cabinets and countertops, I’d have to say it was the table-top fireplace, which I made from a cb2 bowl, the glass from an ikea lantern, and an empty tin can. All the components come together to make a very modern table-top fireplace, at a fraction of the cost of a real one. That, and frosting the bathroom glass door to include a little bathroom sign.

Biggest Indulgence: The biggest indulgences are probably not viewable in the pictures and electronic. I’m a big tech geek. Everything is wireless, and hidden. But having wires everywhere was just not an option. And I have computer parts and hardrive all over the place.

Best Advice: Don’t walk into other people’s houses; walk into yours. It’s your space and it should be a reflection of you. Fill the space with stuff you like and bring you joy.

Dream Sources: Mexican wrought iron shop. In the town, and the general area surrounding where my parents grew up, and where we vacationed each year, the houses have wrought iron doors that I have always loved. My dream is to have one made and shipped back to the states. (here is a picture of some:

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • All the whites – Behr: Popped Pop Corn
    • Accent – Glidden: Fennel Seed
    • Livingroom Accent – Berh: Silver Screen
    • Bed Room – Happy accident (unknown)


    • Sofa – JC Penny via Cragslist
    • Knoll Antimott Chair – Craiglist
    • Credenza/bookcases – Ikea (Magiker)
    • Painting above credenza – Out of the Closet
    • Other art/photography – by friends
    • Blue occasional table – Urban Outfitters
    • Rug – Pottery Barn
    • Lamp Shades – Ikea & Argentina
    • Round blue chair- Ikea


    • Cabinets/Counter Top – Ikea
    • Stools – Overstock
    • Appliances – Local used appliance store
    • Art Work – by friends
    • 1986 Mexico Olympics Print – Ebay
    • Pendent Lamp – CB2


    • Dresser – Ikea (Magiker)
    • Bed – Ikea
    • Art Work – By and friends
    • Boy in Blue painting – Out of the Closet


    • Sink- Ikea
    • Fixtures- Ebay
    • Bird Print- Urban Outfitters

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Jose!