A 400-Square-Foot, Sunny San Francisco Studio Filled with Plants

A 400-Square-Foot, Sunny San Francisco Studio Filled with Plants

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Name: Maya Goldfine
Location: San Francisco, California
Size: 400 square feet
Years Lived In: 6 months, renting

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Call it fate or luck, but something aligned the day I found this studio. By chance I had come across the listing on Craigslist the evening prior—at 5:45 p.m. it was posted that an open house was happening at 7:30 a.m. the next day. Eager to see it, I arrived at 7:15 the next morning and the agent who was sitting in her car across the street noticed me pacing back and forth in front of the building and decided to show me the property early, giving me the upper hand on the application process. After about two minutes my mind was made up that I had to live here. I lived in a much smaller studio only five blocks away, so I ran home and officially applied online all before the other potential tenants had even shown up to the open house. Within an hour the place was mine.

I’m a creative and find I’m most inspired creatively when I’m outdoors and on the road. As a result you’ll never find me without my camera and journal when traveling (it’s my favorite way to archive new experiences) and you’ll often find me out in nature in my free time (it’s my favorite way to unwind). My home is the perfect wind-down casita to escape the overstimulation—it’s my sanctuary—and a direct reflection of my travels and love for nature.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My style: I’d like to think I’ve created a comfortable, calm, and earthy oasis. Grounded in neutral and warm tones, my style is a mix of sophistication and a laid-back boho vibe. I want visitors to feel how I feel when I walk through the front door—like they can instantly kick their feet up, throw a record on, and relax.

Inspiration: Bringing the outdoors in. I’ve always felt a strong connection to nature. Growing up in Marin, I was spoiled with having some of the most beautiful landscapes and beaches right in my backyard. As an adult, I still play outside all the time. My home feels like an extension of the outdoors; the plants, the natural woods, the warm tones, the natural light—it’s a breezy, kicked-back world in here.

Favorite Element: The tall windows and the high ceilings. Light floods my entire apartment in the morning, which is my favorite thing to come home to after an early morning workout or to wake up to on the weekends. The ceiling height and big windows make my place feel much larger than it really is and that makes me and my ever-growing plant collection very happy. Oh, did I mention my plants as one of my favorite things? They look amazing on the fireplace and the built-ins, which are more favorite elements. I have a lot of favorite things.

Biggest Challenge: Creating separate spaces in one big room. I rearranged my “bedroom” and “living room” three times before finally landing on the current layout where the couch is tucked in the bay window area, as far as it can be from the bed. Now when I’m sitting on my couch in my alcove I can’t see my bed at all and it feels like I’m in a completely separate space.

Proudest DIY: Transforming my IKEA HEMNES dresser with a little imagination and a lot of elbow grease. It was an all day project—I sanded down the drawers, stained them, and swapped out the knobs. I get so many questions on where I got my dresser from and love the look on people’s faces when I answer “IKEA.” I believe that great style doesn’t have to be expensive.

Biggest Indulgence: It’s a rare occurrence where I don’t come home from a weekend away or a road trip without a new plant. It’s becoming a problem. I most recently hand-carried a plant onto a flight home after discovering Vault + Vine in Philly. My friends have discussed holding an intervention if I don’t cool it, but they just make me so happy.

Best Advice: Live with less, but love what you have. Create a space where you want to wake up with the sun, drink your coffee slow, and curl up with the newspaper or a book. Don’t over complicate it. The simple things are the best things.

What’s your best home secret? Try to decorate with meaningful objects. Don’t rush to fill a home right and skip the joy found in the process of collecting treasures along the way. Most of my decor has been picked up from my travels; my throw pillows are from local artisans in Valladolid and Mexico City, the antler on my shelf was purchased at an antique shop on a road trip to Texas, and my Kodak Brownie and M22 Instamatic cameras were passed down from my grandfather who owned them when he was living in Australia. I have a tray filled with almost a hundred physical Polaroids and photobooth strips that I love sifting through; the tangible nature of these memories makes me so happy. Finding this type of connection and meaningfulness in decoration is how I truly feel a house becomes a home.


Couch – Eclectic Goods
Chair – Target
Loveseat — IKEA
Rugs – Vintage and Farmhouse Pottery
Trunk — Vintage
Planters – Norden (via Confidants), Schoolhouse Electric, Ikea, Vault + Vine, Flora Grubb
Throw — Coyuchi
Mirror — IKEA
Dresser — IKEA

Bistro Table – Cost Plus World Market
Chairs — Target
Bar Tray – CB2
Rug – Vintage
Art – Self-Made and Vintage

Bed – West Elm
Duvet – The Citizenry
Console Table — Overstock
Record Player – Crosley
Diffuser — Vitruvi
Cowhide Rug — Vintage
Various Decor Objects – Paxton Gate, The Evolution Store NY, Vintage

Thanks, Maya!

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