Making A Tiny Studio A Home

November 9, 2015   /   bynatalie  / Categories :  Personal, Uncategorized

When Keenan and I unloaded the first of our boxes into our new, empty apartment back in February of this year, I think we were both had the same thought; “How are our lives going to fit into this tiny space together?”

After the initial excitement of being given a bond, signing all the paperwork and celebrating buying our first property together, the reality had just hit that we were in fact moving into a 65m2 room together and calling it an “apartment”.

My heart raced as a looked around the tiny space that was about to become my entire life; love nest, home, office, bedroom, kitchen. I think a little film of cold sweat covered my forehead, and it wasn’t due to the heavy lifting. We were nervous.

Fast forward eight months and it’s hard to believe we ever lived anywhere bigger. We’ve been living more than comfortably in the home where we’ve created a kitchen and breakfast area, dining area, office space, living room and bedroom. It’s a home, inside a room.

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The breakfast bank we made using a couple of brackets and a piece of laminated pine from Builders Warehouse. The chairs are from Chair Crazy in Woodstock.

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We’ve used Scandinavian-style furniture because the simple designs and clean lines make the room feel more spacious. The dining table and chairs are from Mr Price Home. The chairs are actually from the outdoor furniture section and were a third of the price of indoor chairs.

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We used a simple work bench from Builders Warehouse to create a kitchen solution for storage and an extra work surface. We painted it white and added wheels.

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Film strip prints from Nifty250 cover the fridge and bring colour into the neutral space.

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In this house, there are almost no cupboards so everything is on display. It meant getting rid of a whole lot of stuff we didn’t nee. It also helps to be tidy.

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Mirrors are a nice way to create the illusion of a little more space. This collection of vintage-style mirrors is from @home.

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Keenan’s friend Caelyn Robertson painted this portrait of him for an exhibition and I bought it as a gift for him when we moved in.

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We’ve created “separate” areas in the space by using rugs and a room divider we built with the help of a couple of handymen. The rug in the living area is from Mr Price Home and so is the Scandi coffee table.

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The office space is where I spend most of my time. The hanging lights are from @home and the trestle table is from Builders Warehouse. The cork board is from Get Cork in Observatory. (I don’t know what to do about the cable situation in this house and it drives me crazy. It looks so messy!)

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We love plants and we have loads in our little house. They bring life to the space and add another colour to the mostly neutral colour palate.

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The cork board is my visual mood board and where I keep little reminders.

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I love the big New York loft-style windows, which allow loads of natural light to fill the space. It’s one of my favourite things about our home. We’ve kept the colour scheme neutral throughout the house, with pops of yellow here and there. This lamp is from @home and the Scandi-style couch is from Coricraft. It’s one of my favourite pieces.

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We built the room divider with materials from Builders Warehouse. We wanted to have something that would create a divide between the living space and bedroom but wouldn’t cut them off from each other completely. It’s given us lots of storage space too.

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There are pieces by our friend Lauren Fowler all over the house. We both love her work and we love her even more.

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In the bedroom we decided not to have built in cupboards installed because they would take up too much space. For folding items we installed shelves with brackets and laminated pine from Builders Warehouse. (We moved all our clothes for the pictures because we are using them for our Airbnb listing so we wanted to show the space the way an Airbnb guest would find it)

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For our hanging clothes we had our friend Gene Kierman install these clothing rails. He made the powder coated brackets and the pipes are just copper pipes from Builders Warehouse. We have to keep our clothes very tidy, but I love the way the rails look.

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Plants, art by Lauren Fowler and Keenan’s prestigious D&AD award, which just happens to perfectly match our home.

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The little dressing table is a pine desk I bought from a second hand store and painted white. The round mirror is from Mr Price Home. All the plants are from Starke Ayres.

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I buy all our towels and bedding from Whitehouse in Woodstock. The often have amazing specials.

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We love these lights which are from Superbalist. (Obviously we don’t only have white shirts in our closet. We moved our clothes for the Airbnb shots)

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I wish this is what our clothing rails always looked like!

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We’re really into plants, as you can tell.

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The bedroom is very neutral and actually quite big, considering it’s such a small space. I love plain white bedding. This unit at the foot of the bed is my grandpa’s old desk, which my mom converted into the perfect place for us to store socks and underwear. The lights next to the bed are from Superbalist. We hung them using brackets from Builders Warehouse.

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I love white bedding so much.


  1. It can be hard decorating a studio space. Keep the colour palate neutral, with pops of a single colour throughout. This will help to keep the space from feeling too cluttered and the uniformity of the bright colour will pull the house together.
  2.  Scandinavian furniture is a good option for small spaces. Its slim design will help save space and it looks beautiful. Mr Price Home and Coricraft both have stunning ranges at the moment for really affordable prices. Check out the Stockholm range on Mr Price Home here. The Bergen Couch we have from Coricraft is available here.
  3. Do it yourself. It can be hard to find affordable pieces that work for your small space, so make it yourself. We’ve spent countless hours and rands at Builders Warehouse and we’ve made a lot of the stuff around the house with help from our trusty handymen Clement and Tsepo from Cape Town Builders. Things like wall units, which can be pricey, hard to find and big, can be replaced with a few brackets and a couple of pieces of laminated pine.
  4. Plants bring life, colour and decoration into the home and they make you feel so happy. We take ours outside for watering and a bit of air once a week and they repay us with endless beauty. Delicious monsters grow well inside and so do ferns.
  5. Get rid of stuff. It can be hard but I promise you, once you’ve given it away you’ll never think about it ever again. I’ve gotten rid of more than 8 black bags full of clothes and shoes and we have given away loads of stuff we thought we needed, simply because we didn’t have space for it. And you know what, I can’t even remember what it was because I never even needed it in the first place.

Thanks to Alex du Toit, our friend and neighbour for the amazing photos of our home.

*Some (not nearly all) of the items in our home were sponsored as part of campaigns or trade exchanges. I estimate we’ve spent around R40 000 on small renovations, decor items, security upgrades and labour costs.

PS. Did you know that we are renting our apartment out over the festive season? Check out our Airbnb listing to book it.


  • Reply

    adick / 09 Nov

    wow, great work and write up. will be visiting whitehouse soon 🙂

  • Reply

    Lisa Fullstone / 09 Nov

    Such great tips, thanks. Your home is gorgeous, such a great use of space

  • Reply

    Amy / 09 Nov

    Gosh Nats, this looks incredible. What an amazing job! You’re inspiring me in my on-going struggle with decorating my place with limited funds and creativity 🙂

  • Reply

    Keri / 12 Nov

    Hi Natalie,
    Please could you let me know where you got the woven basket on your office desk, I’ve been searching high and low for something just like that.
    Thanks so much!

    • Reply

      natalie / 13 Nov

      I’m so sorry, it was actually a gift, so I have no idea!

  • Reply

    Caroline / 13 Nov

    Hey Nathalie, it’s fantastic what you guys did with your apartment. Great inspiration! What I miss: what does the bathroom look like? Would be very keen to see it’s decoration 🙂

    • Reply

      natalie / 16 Nov

      Hi Caroline! It’s actually quite boring at the moment, but I’m planning a little makeover, so I’ll post pictures once it’s done 🙂

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