A San Jose Rental Shows How Paint, Furniture, and a Great Layout Can Successfully Section a Studio

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Living room and bedroom with colorful wall and rug
My sofa serves as a divider between the "living room" and "bedroom." I filled the space with plants, books, lots of color, and pillows from my travels are on my sofa.

Name: Brett Bralley and dog George
Location: Downtown San Jose, California
Type of home: Apartment
Size: About 500 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months, renting

Art, books, and travel mementos are what I use to decorate my space.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: What instantly sold me on this downtown San Jose historic studio apartment was the wall of windows. I’m a writer who works from home, so that natural light flooding in at all times of day is essential.

In the kitchen, I replaced the cabinet pulls, added a peel-and-stick backsplash, and finished it with some neon art.

It took a few tries to get the layout just right, but now I have a separate space for living, sleeping, working, and cooking. I’m amazed at what the right layout can do in such a small space.

Painting this "mural" over my bed not only makes a huge impact when you walk into my apartment, but it also defines the bedroom area.

I wanted this apartment to be me through and through. And it is — from the bold colors to the warm textures and the funky art (much done by dear friends.)

I moved in right after a tough breakup, so I decided to do literally whatever I wanted, which is, of course, a perk of living alone! And one thing I wanted to do was bring in bright accents with paint. I painted the archway that separates the kitchen from the rest of the apartment a bold pink. Then I freehanded a “mural” behind my bed. I also added a peel-and-stick yellow backsplash to my kitchen.

My dad helped me refinish this table. It used to be a breakfast table for my sisters and I when we were little. Now it's perfect for my small space.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Playful, happy, colorful, eclectic, me

In my living room, I painted an archway a bold pink. A tall rattan shelf helps section off the room from the kitchen and provides great vertical storage.

What is your favorite room and why? It’s all one room, but I love my “living room” the most. It’s groovy, plant-filled, and has a view of downtown San Jose. It’s the perfect place to unwind after work with my pup.

My desk looks out over downtown. I like the glass top for a small space. It takes up less visual real estate.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? One of the last things I grabbed was a super cute pink planter from Plant Slut, a local plant shop.

Compared to the rest of my space, my entryway takes a very neutral stance.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Have fun. If you want to try something, try it!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.