Before & After: A 323-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Was Transformed into a Cozy One-Bedroom

Before & After: A 323-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Was Transformed into a Cozy One-Bedroom

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Name: Michelle Hastwell
Location: Estepona — Malaga, Spain
Size: 323 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

My husband and I were looking to buy a one-bedroom apartment as a rental investment close to our home (where we live with our two teenagers, three rescue dogs, and cat) but we couldn’t find anything in our budget. We’re originally from the UK but have been living in Spain for nearly 20 years and although money does go much further here than in London where I’m originally from, I had totally disregarded studio apartments at first. Then a friend who owns a real estate agency convinced me to take a look at a particular place and the second I walked through the door I fell in love. Not with the dated ’70s decor, smell of mothballs, or cluttered state of the place, but with the space itself. It had so much potential and I was immediately sold.

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It needed a ton of updating. We hired a contractor to move the original kitchen and make a galley style kitchen along the opposite wall reusing as much of the old kitchen as possible to keep costs down. He also built a wall where the original kitchen was to create a separate space from the lounge area. This we turned into a tiny cozy bedroom.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Chilled beach vibes with a touch of boho

Inspiration: The beach nearby (a five-minute walk away)

Favorite Element: I’m torn between the high ceiling and natural light that streams in all day.

Biggest Challenge: When we bought the apartment, the owner’s wife had recently passed and he didn’t clear anything out of the place so we spent the first two weeks gutting and cleaning it. Imagine 30 years worth of belongings on the third floor with no elevator in August (which is around 95 degrees). On the flip side, we found some treasures that we upcycled and reused—for instance a marble top bistro table and chairs.

Proudest DIY: Turning the kitchen into a bedroom. My husband thought I was nuts to begin with but we did it!

Biggest Indulgence: The apartment itself! Although the initial idea was to purchase it as a rental, when it’s not being rented, I use it as my workspace. With two teenagers and four fur babies in our house, working from home can be loud and tricky so I take my laptop and camp out either under the awning on the terrace or if the weather isn’t so great (which is rare) on the dining table indoors. I can see the palm trees outside from every angle and it makes me happy.

Best Advice: Be open to possibilities! I’m so glad I listened to my friend about viewing this place as it was everything I wanted and more. Every time I walk in to the apartment I’m so proud of what we have achieved in such a small space.

What’s your best home secret? In a small space, things that do double duty are a bonus. Baskets are my go-to as they provide storage and look cool for blankets, knick-knacks, etc. They’re great and I mix up different shapes, colors, and sizes.



  • Dulux “Highgate” throughout the apartment



  • Table — Upcycled from previous owner
  • Ladder (on wall) — Rescued from the bin and upcycled with white paint and fairy lights
  • Curtains — IKEA


Thanks Michelle!

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