Lauren’s Eclectic San Francisco Apartment

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

Name: Lauren Spain
Location: San Francisco, California
Size: 450 square Feet
Years lived in: 1 year 8 months; Rented

I don’t meet a lot of people my age that really have their shit together, but Lauren is the exception that obliterates the rule. You wouldn’t know it now, but Lauren has had to redecorate her apartment TWICE. Yes, twice. Two months after moving in, her oven caught fire and ruined many of her belongings. Fortunately, because Lauren is the model of having-one’s-shit-together, she had renter’s insurance. That, along with some amazing friends, helped get her back on her feet. It also doesn’t hurt that this redhead finance lady managed to score a sweet little Victorian unit with a very flexible landlord who basically lets her do anything!

(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

Lauren has managed to get the most out of her small space with lots of clever conversions, including the closet-turned-bedroom and the ironing-board-cupboard-turned-spice-rack. But what I love most about Lauren’s apartment are the little “treats” everywhere you look. Interesting, quirky, or awesomely nerdy collected keepsakes abound, and yet nothing feels cluttered.

(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Awesome.

Inspiration: Color. I grew up in the Southwest, where everything is painted brown, tan, taupe, beige, or some other variation of desert sand. I made it a goal that when I had my own place, I wouldn’t limit myself to a color scheme, but instead decorate in colors that reflect my personality and mood.

Favorite Element: I love my closet bedroom. I can shut the doors and close the curtain and it feels like I’m in my own fort or superhero cave. And if I want to read, all I have to do is stand on my bed and pick a book from my reading rainbow!

Biggest Challenge: I moved into my apartment in July 2012 and unfortunately experienced my first (and hopefully last) kitchen fire two months later. I had just finished decorating most of my apartment and lost pretty much everything due to smoke damage. I was devastated, but my friends all rallied together and helped me recover. For weeks, they came over and helped me repaint, build new furniture, and devour unspeakable amounts of pizza and beer. I’ll forever be grateful for their love and support.

What Friends Say: My friends are always surprised when I tell them my apartment is only 450 square feet. They also say if I ever move out, I should tell them first so they can take over my lease.

Biggest Embarrassment: I’m so OCD that all the canned food in my cabinets or beverages in my fridge always have to be faced out — as though you’re purchasing them at the grocery store. I can’t help it.

Proudest DIY: I had absolutely no idea what to do with the built-in ironing board cabinet in my kitchen, which was ironically missing the ironing board. I had purchased some kitchen racks to hold sandwich bags and supplies under my sink, and it occurred to me that if I bought a few more racks, I could easily convert this useless two-inch deep cupboard into an awesome spice rack.

Biggest Indulgence: Honestly? Books. I think I’ve spent far more money on books than I have on any piece of furniture in my house. Otherwise I would say my piano, which I’ve dragged through three states in ten years.

Best Advice: Your home should represent you. Don’t conform to trends or be afraid to showcase your homemade d20 candle or Lego dinosaur collection because someone might not think it’s cool. If it makes you happy, that’s all that matters. Oh, and get renter’s insurance. Seriously.

Dream Sources: There’s no one store I covet. I find some of the best things at the most hole-in-the-wall shops. For me, it’s more like “dream bank account”.

(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

Resources of Note:


  • Benjamin Moore – Concepts Interior Latex, Eggshell. Color: Mysterious AF-565


  • Art –TJMaxx, The Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco


  • Wall Art – Etsy (Lettuce Turnip the Beet)
  • Wall Organizer – Urban Outfitters
  • Dresser – IKEA
  • Bar – Bed, Bath, & Beyond (floor model)
  • Birdcage – Save On Crafts
  • Harry Potter Pillow – Etsy
  • Desk – IKEA
  • Mirror – Goodwill
  • Bicycle Photo Wheel – Save On Crafts
  • Organizer – Save On Crafts
  • Lamp – Urban Outfitters
  • Pillows – Amazon
  • Couch – Amazon
  • Bookshelf – IKEA
  • Dice Candles – homemade
  • Clock – Target
  • Rug – Target


  • Art – Various thrift stores, saved magazines, and baseball fan shop
  • Table – Amazon


  • Vinyl – Amazon
  • Gadgets – Thrift Stores


  • Art – Urban Outfitters
  • Pillows – Target
(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

Thanks, Lauren!

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