A Tiny, 370-Square-Foot Bay Area Studio Prioritizes Functionality

updated Apr 29, 2019

A Tiny, 370-Square-Foot Bay Area Studio Prioritizes Functionality

updated Apr 29, 2019
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Name: Naimah and kitties
Location: West End — Alameda, California
Size: 370 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, rented

Having spent the past few years at college in the South, Naimah didn’t expect the Bay Area’s competitive rental market when searching for the tiny Alameda studio apartment she now calls home. “The rental market in the Bay is wild, so this building was actually the first and only one that I saw,” she says. The space was much smaller than she’s used to, but Naimah knew that if she approached the design of the space with a practical point of view, she could make it work.

Naimah had to be selective about what she brought into the apartment. She wanted to display things that were reminders of her travels and family—plus lots of her favorite books—without making the space feel too cluttered. Making the cut were Frida Kahlo prints that bring back memories of her travels in Mexico City, and a collection of teapots from her grandma. “I think that starting with things that you love and thinking of how you actually live is a good way to build your space,” she says. “It usually comes together naturally and with less regrets if you start there.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: I’d say that it’s eclectic. I like a lot of different elements of different styles, so I just take what I like and try to make it work.

Inspiration: Casa Azul in Mexico City, the homes of friends and family who I think have great style, and a ton of interior photos on Instagram and Pinterest.

Favorite Element: My bookshelf! I think personal libraries are so important because it can tell you so much about a person. Ever since I was little, I was very intentional about keeping my books because I want to have a home where I’m surrounded by great stories. There’s just something comforting about libraries, whether they’re public or personal.

Biggest Challenge: Probably having to always balance what’s in the space. I’d love a regular sized sofa. I’ve overcome it by remembering how important it is to not feel squeezed into a space and to really be intentional with what I bring into it. I’ll have the space for something that my feet don’t hang off of one day!

What Friends Say: That my apartment looks like me, which is such a compliment.

Biggest Embarrassment: The litter box. I wish I had a space to stash it away and not have it in my living room. My cats always decide that they must use the bathroom when I have guests over or when I sit down to have dinner.

Proudest DIY: I made a vanity from an IKEA shelf in my closet. It’s not a huge DIY, but I really do feel like I’m utilizing my closet to its fullest ability.

Biggest Indulgence: My rent.

Best Advice: Just do what feels right for your space and lifestyle.

Dream Sources: New York and Parisian flea markets, Anthropologie, The Schomburg Shop.


Mirror — Target

Felton Tufted Loveseat — Target
Lush Velvet Pillows —West Elm
Yellow Ayo Sun Circle Pillow — Justina Blakeney x Target
Copper Nesting Tables — World Market
Wood Slab Serving Tray — Target
Glass and Metal Serving Tray — World Market
Rug — Amazon
Plant Stands/End Tables — Urban Outfitters
Pink Chair — Nate Berkus for Target
Face Pillow — Urban Outfitters
Mid-century Shelving System — West Elm
Gold Pots — Article
Face Print — Urban Outfitters (frame by Framebridge)
Secretary — West Elm
Basket — Target
Mirror — Target

Circular Table — Wayfair
Chairs — Bed Bath & Beyond
Shelves — IKEA

Iron Bed — Wayfair
Bedspread — Urban Outfitters
Euro Pillows — Article
Kidney Pillow — Etsy

Thanks, Naimah!

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