Two People and Two Dogs Share This Small, Sun-Filled SF Studio

published Apr 2, 2024

Two People and Two Dogs Share This Small, Sun-Filled SF Studio

published Apr 2, 2024
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Xiao He, her partner, and their two adorable dogs share this sunny 425-square-foot studio apartment in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. And it’s surprisingly airy despite being the home of two humans and two pets. Being organized helps.

“We both really like the KonMari organizing principle: the Japanese tidying-up method that encourages you to keep only the items that spark joy,” Xiao writes. “I used to be bothered a lot by the amount of objects I had, and was overwhelmed every time we moved. After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, our family went through a tidying festival, and donated bags after bags of clothing and objects. Now we have become a lot more conscious of what to keep in our home and what to buy, and more thoughtful of using space. For small apartments, we use a lot of vertical spaces. This helped us a lot when we were downsizing to this 425-square-foot studio apartment from an 800-square-foot apartment.”

Credit: Xiao He
"When we took the painting back from an exhibition I had, my partner said, 'Why don't we keep it in our own home?' So, it ended up staying in our apartment. Initially, it was a little awkward to stare at my own works, but luckily, they work out well with the wall space and add a lot more color to our home."

But don’t think that their home is empty or cold. “We both love the minimalistic and organized lifestyle but also want our home to have warmth and our personal touches,” she writes. “We want to surround ourselves with objects full of memory and artworks from our artist friends. We went for a beige and neutral color palette for the furniture and large areas such as bedding. For smaller objects, we love bold and bright colors as accent pieces. So, we have a yellow teapot, an orange water boiler, and a navy fry pan for the kitchen. They make the space immediately more lively and fun!”

Credit: Xiao He
"My favorite moment is when the four of us (my partner, our two dogs, and I) are all relaxing on the small loveseat sofa at the end of the day."

Xiao describes their home’s style as “artistic, minimalistic, bright, cozy, and airy,” and says they love how multifunctional the studio is. “[W]e eat, sleep, read, relax, and play with our dogs here. The floor-to-ceiling windows and the city view outside the window serve as an extension of the interior space,” she writes.

“Our home contains mostly IKEA furniture, secondhand West Elm furniture that we ‘inherited’ from the previous tenant when we were still in New York, and gifts from friends. They traveled quite a long way with us to the West Coast! My partner and I are both big fans of small and well-designed spaces. After living in Silicon Valley for two years, we decided to downsize our apartment and move up to San Francisco to enjoy city life. I am a painter, and my partner is an engineer. We enjoy walking our dogs, Zero and Totoro, in the city, exploring the coffee shops in the neighborhood, and going to the Roxie Theatre on Friday night.”

Credit: Xiao He


  • Sofa — West Elm
  • Painting — Self Made
  • Lamp — IKEA (found in recycling room)
  • Faux Fur Pillow — Target
  • Key Holder — IKEA
  • Navy Ceramics Pan — Caraway
  • Pot — All-Clad
  • Calendars — Paper Source
  • Bedside Lamp — Target
  • Stool — TJ Maxx
  • Study Desk and Chair — West Elm
  • Bowl — Anthropologie
  • Chocolate Box — Venchi
  • Etchings — Xiaoyao
  • Knob — IKEA
  • String Bag — MUJI
  • Clock — IKEA
  • Acrylic Shelf — IKEA
  • Acrylic Stand — Crate and Barrel
  • Wool Crate and Barrel Storage Bin for kids. It is cute and works perfect for dog toys too!

Thanks, Xiao!

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