A Small, Sophisticated 468 Square Foot Urban Arizona Studio
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Name: Matthew Herbert
Location: Downtown Phoenix, AZ
Size: 468 square feet
Years lived in: 6 Months; Rented
When Matt first toured White Stone Studios, he was immediately drawn to the aesthetic; he knew it would highlight his personal style and design choices. His previous apartment was about twice the size of the studio, and downsizing his possessions, he says, has been a refreshing experience. “I had to be more conscious about my entire living space because for the first time in my life it was all entirely exposed. There is no longer a way to justify having a clean living room and a messy bedroom.” Matt is charmed by his studio, and it’s infectious.
When I first entered his home I thought it was beautiful, but after he pointed out some of the practical details that designer and architect Benjamin Hall included, I couldn’t help but be in awe. Benjamin Hall turned a decade-old urban infill lot into six of the most beautifully functional studios I’ve ever seen. Function, in Benjamin’s mind, drives everything. “When you take the time to evaluate a material for it’s physical properties, an explosion of possibilities become apparent.” This thought process is evident both inside and out at White Stone. Everywhere I looked I was delighted by small yet thoughtful touches. There are cutouts in the counter (which functions as both a dining area and work space) that allow access to plugs for electronics. The art hanging system allows occupants to place art wherever they’d like without damage to the walls. The mail slot outside the front door has a space to stash a few things if your hands are full.
My favorite touch is the rope-wrapped door handle. It’s not just visually appealing, but also functional, as I imagine it prevents the third-degree burns one would get from touching a metal door in Phoenix in July. There are other examples of alternative materials that aren’t quite as obvious at first glance. “Instead of tile in the shower, I decided to use a more durable material. The walls are powder-coated steel, so tenants can use magnets to hang luffas, etc. The steel knifes back outside to become the window mullion. From the exterior the same piece of steel is its natural finish.” Another innovation I missed entirely until I spoke to Benjamin after the shoot is that the pipes which designate the parking stalls double as weep holes/drainage pipes for the landscape during extreme rain.
When I shot the studio in May, the skies were uncharacteristically overcast and threatening rain. Matt and I discussed how incredible it would be to hangout in the studio when a monsoon rolled in. This conversation prompted Matt to point out that the awning above the front door directs rain runoff to the plants on either side of it. I can only assume that Matt will continue to be charmed by his studio well into the future, and that this monsoon season has treated him well.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Mid-century staples blended with a Modern aesthetic.
Inspiration: I spent the last few years working in fashion where art, design, and style are all intertwined. I am also constantly inspired by stunning social media accounts and am fascinated with many of the acclaimed mid-century designers. I now work in a growing vintage community where I am surrounded by talented people with great taste, which often spurs creativity.
Favorite Element: It has to be a tie between the atrium and the living room. The atrium provides incredible natural light into the space, and makes bathing much more enjoyable. The living room is where I spend most of my time. The couch was something I wasn’t certain could fit, but I am so glad that it did!
Biggest Challenge: It sounds so cliché to say that living in a small space is difficult due to the lack of storage, but it is something you are in a constant battle with. I find the biggest challenge to be hiding away the “uncool” necessities. I also struggled with the closet space- you don’t realize how many clothes you have until you’re confined to a neat and tidy wardrobe.
What Friends Say: They are often enamored by the thoughtfulness of the overall design- the architect Benjamin Hall did an incredible job with functionality and my friends have all noticed that. They are also surprised by how neat and tidy things are. I keep reinforcing that it doesn’t look nearly as good messy!
Biggest Embarrassment: That it is still unfinished and probably always will be. I am always tweaking things a bit, or trying to raise the bar in some way or another.
Proudest DIY: I have never been the handyman, or the super-talented craftsman, but I am really good at networking with those that are. My patio space was a design collaboration between myself and local architect/fabricator Matt Noakes. We mocked up a design together and then he constructed the cedar planters. From there, we sourced the plants and did all the manual labor together. I am proud of how that all turned out.
Biggest Indulgence: I purchased my coffee table from the crew over at Modern Manor in Phoenix, AZ. They offer incredible insight and an inventory of the highest quality. This piece is perfect for my place, the glass top doesn’t shrink the space and its round shape is a great fit as well.
Best Advice: I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. Take the time to find the furniture you really love, patience goes a long way. Buy vintage over value. What I mean by that is oftentimes there is a temptation to buy mass-produced, new furniture because it is affordable and accessible. Put a bit of time, and a little money into those one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, they are what can make your space special and unique to just you.
Dream Sources: 1st Dibs, Brimfield Flea Market, HomeSteez, TRNK NYC, Danish Modern LA, Rose Bowl Flea Market, Modern Manor.
- Couch: Florence Knoll from Kardiel
- Art: Eagles Fill the Sky by Wes Lang
- Pillows: TheDarkContinent on Etsy
- Blanket: West Elm
- Burke Tulip table: vintage
- Bitossi ashtray: vintage from Modern Manor
- Cowhide rug: purchased from dealer in Las Vegas, NV
- Sculptural walnut and glass coffee table: vintage Lane Furniture from Modern Manor
- Brass bowl: vintage from Past Vintage
- Antler: vintage from Zinnias at Melrose
- Book: City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs 1912-1948, gifted
- Walnut bookshelf: West Elm
- Art: Bayshore Boulevard by Shepard Fairey
- Bitossi Italian pottery: vintage from Remo’s Retro
- Made in Japan Kay Bojesen-style monkey: vintage from Moonstruck Vintage
- Found objects and pottery: vintage from Zinnias at Melrose
- Porcelain mug: family heirloom
- Candle: Imogene + Willie x Apothia
- Brass fruit bowl: vintage from Modern Manor
- Custom concrete planters: Matt Noakes
- Grey succulent pots: West Elm
- Brass salt and pepper shakers: West Elm
- Brass cactus: vintage
- Studio pottery: vintage from Remo’s Retro
- Island stools: Crocus
- Art: Léon: The Professional by Bruce Yan
- Orange enamelware set: Rachel Ray
- Plates, bowls, and mugs: Threshold Collection from Target
- Cutlery: Sabatier from Bed Bath & Beyond
- Soap dispenser: Target
- Art: The Rocketeer Griffith Observatory Print by Justin Van Genderen
- Bed: Ikea
- Mattress: Ikea
- Bedding: West Elm
- Art: JFK, signed Hermanski
- Vintage Swiss Army blanket: Etsy
- Gerald Thurston for Lightolier lamp: Vintage from Remo’s Retro
- Wardrobe/Closet: Ikea
- Shower curtain: Crate & Barrel
- Bath mat: Urban Outfitters
- Soap dispenser: West Elm
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