A 400-Square-Foot London Studio Uses All the Tricks to Feel Much Larger

Lifestyle

Name: Tiara Christian and 2.5-year-old Chinese Shar Pei, Sweet Potato Louise
Location: London, UK
Size: Approximately 400 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Sweet Potato and I moved to London from New York last summer and I  wanted to spend time experiencing different neighborhoods before jumping into homeownership. I left Sweet Potato in the states for a month while I searched for the perfect flat considering the uncertainty around Brexit, and we found peace living in a 400-square-foot mezzanine studio in the heart of Notting Hill.

Coming from a large apartment in Brooklyn, I took studio living (a British-sized studio at that) as a challenge to try my hand at minimalist living. Gone are the days of a walk-in closet the size of a small office, and this space forced me to be much more creative with how I organize and express myself.  Living in Notting Hill is lovely: SPL (Sweet Potato Louise) has her dog park across the street, I love hopping around to my local flower shops and bakeries, and together we enjoy walking through Portobello Market on the weekends. There’s so much to do outside that when we come home, it’s time to relax and recharge in a space that makes me feel inspired.

Our home style is boho-lux. Oh, haven’t heard of it? Great, because I made it up!  Boho-lux because our space is whimsical yet grounded. Due to the 14-foot ceiling height, I was able to go a bit grandiose on these 12-foot velvet chartreuse curtains and my Atkin and Thyme desk chair, which I love. As you keep looking around, your eyes relax and are surrounded with calming tones and textures all around, like my IKEA SÖDERHAMN three-piece couch wrapped in a faux leather butter pecan-tan cover and the rich brown cow-hide rug. SPL is also a sun lover and you can often find her showing the world how to properly day nap while nestled across from the large windows that lead out to the communal garden.

You can see more of her style on her blog, The Glory of Doing.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My home style balances a mix of black and neutral tones, yummy rich textures like velvets, faux leathers and furs, mixed metals, and colorful peek-a-boo surprises to balance things out. I aim for an understated, minimalist feel where each piece has a purpose and space to avoid the overcrowding of “things,” especially in a small space.   

Inspiration: I see so many amazing spaces on Apartment Therapy! I’m inspired by homes with good bones and plenty of character. Whether a studio loft with a unique layout or a bungalow with amazing skylights, I really enjoy the unusual and I like to try my hand at making it even better through the right decor. I’m also moved by Spanish arches, French doors, and very tall ceilings.

Favorite Element: My flat sits within a traditional Victorian house and my absolute favorite elements are the almost floor-to-ceiling windows. Natural sunlight is a blessing in cities that are famously known for rain! I’ve been lucky because my south-facing windows get sunlight all year long and large windows really help any home feel more spacious.

Biggest Challenge: One of my biggest challenges is also my favorite feature: the ceiling height! What people rarely share is that accessing huge lofty spaces takes work. My landlord provided a tall ladder which helped a lot but for some areas even the ladder couldn’t reach, I had to get creative to utilize every square foot. Another challenge are smaller, European appliances, which I’m not used to from past American apartments. My fridge is a “just for me” size and it challenges me to buy fresh food and use it pretty quickly or else I’ll run out of fridge space. Fresher is better!

Proudest DIY: This was the first year I didn’t do an extensive DIY to my rental. However, I did find great joy in installing the nail salon rack in the bathroom with extremely sticky double sided tape from the hardware store. I also added a collage of postcards from my travels to the column for a little flavor.

Biggest Indulgence: Until six months ago I had no idea how pricey custom curtains can be.  I splurged on this chartreuse velvet-looking set (a whopping £800) not only for privacy, but a gift to myself for downsizing and not repainting, which sounds fun… but isn’t my favorite hobby.

Best Advice: In studios it can sometimes get stuffy, so I really value air purifiers and opening the windows for good ole fresh air from time to time; plants also help! My other tip is to only place things you love on display. Most studios are open for guests to potentially see everything (including your laundry basket) in one glance. Choose pieces and set them “in a place of honor” as my mom says, that make you feel good, but also allow your guests to learn even more about you.

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