A Handmade, 600 Square Foot Berkeley Apartment

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Name: Natacha Nay and Joshua
Location: Berkeley, California
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months; Rented

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Natacha and Joshua live on one of Berkeley’s busiest and most historic streets. Though their neighborhood is generally hectic, their home reflects a minimal way of living that contrasts with the busy street scene. The location is very convenient for Joshua (a UC Berkeley student), as it’s near the campus, but the apartment also functions as a great place to unwind at the end of the day, with the perfect windows for watching the unique characters wandering the street.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)
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Natacha and Joshua love to spend most of their time in the living room. Natacha sits on one of a set of chairs the couple made from scratch, which she cites as their proudest DIY. (Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Natacha is a part-time ceramist and furniture/interior designer. The couple met in San Francisco, and after Natacha came back from a short stay in her hometown in France, they decided to move to Berkeley. Though their ideal home is an industrial loft by the water, they are content with their charming 1902 Victorian apartment.

“Our style is pretty Californian modern, with a twist of Mid-century,” Natacha said. “Ideally we would love to live in a loft right by the bay front in San Francisco, but with the price of housing right now, Berkeley is our temporary home!”

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Our style tends to be Californian, with some Mid-century pieces. But we definitely have some eclectic decorations! We like to stay minimal when it comes to our main furniture pieces. Almost everything that surrounds us is either handmade by us or by someone close to us, which makes our living spaces even more meaningful.

Inspiration: Our dream space would be a large industrial loft, overlooking a busy city, so when we think of our interior we like to picture this ideal setting.

Favorite Element: We spend most of our time in our living room, which is the heart of our apartment. This is why we decorated it the most so far. I personally love our bench along the windows, I get to people-watch at the end of each day! And the light that we get is fantastic.

Biggest Challenge: Our kitchen is our biggest “challenge” right now, just because it does not get any light, and the way the space is organized does not allow us to have anything special in it. We eat and spend time in the living room which makes the kitchen more of a storage space right now. We have a lounge area in mind, which we will try to set up in the coming months!

What Friends Say: Our friends and family are definitely impressed every time they come in. They usually mention how welcoming and warm it feels. We love having people over for dinner, so the living room turns into a spacious dining and seating area for everyone. Our handmade chairs always get the most attention, of course!

Biggest Embarrassment: Our backspace right now is used as a storage room for our bikes and miscellaneous cleaning supplies. For a moment we turned it into a “sun room” but our landlord is planning on taking it down and rebuilding it, so right now, it’s just a mess.

Proudest DIY: Our chairs! By far the biggest DIY we’ve ever made! We made them right after we signed our lease- knowing we did not want a sofa, we set out to build our own chairs. The idea that these chairs will be with us for the next 10 years makes it so special!

Biggest Indulgence: Our dining room chairs. They are IKEA second-hand chairs, but because we had no money or any budget when we moved in, they were a Christmas gift from Joshua’s parents and we love them!

Best Advice: It’s not because you have tons of storage space that you should fill it up. We were so happy to have all these hidden storage spaces because our apartment still has an old Victorian layout, but now, we are thinking about how much stuff we have and how much we do not need it!

Dream Sources: Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy (of course), Pinterest, SF Girl By Bay

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)



  • Off-white: our landlord painted before we moved in- a similar paint style is White Dove from Benjamin Moore.
  • Kitchen and bathroom (not pictured): unknown mint color


  • Mirror: Stockholm IKEA that was repaired
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)


  • Lounge chairs: handmade by us
  • Coffee table: Wood top from family, legs from Hairpinlegs
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Floor lamp: handmade by us
  • Fur: IKEA
  • Pillows: handmade by our cousin and us
  • Ceramics: by Natacha Nay and Carole Neilson



  • Buffet and dresser: handmade and found on the street
  • Butcher’s table: IKEA
  • Ceramics: by Natacha Nay
  • Wall-hanging sculpture: by Joshua
  • Painting: by Natacha Nay


  • Dresser: Ikea
  • Bed: Ikea
  • Nightstand and lamp: IKEA
  • Ceramics and weaving/macrame art: handmade by Natacha Nay
  • Alarm clock: EQ3
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

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Thanks, Natacha & Joshua!