A Tiny D.C. Studio Is a Smart and Stylish Use of Small Space — House Call

Name: Rachel Spikula
Location: Dupont Circle — Washington, DC
Size: 355 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Landing this place was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I looked at a few apartments in big buildings, but they didn’t feel right. I wanted to find something more distinctive in a smaller building and began looking for condos to rent. I almost overlooked the listing for this unit. The photos were unflattering—the furniture was set up poorly and was not to my taste—but I could see the potential. Also, the price was right. So right, that the site I was using to search popped up a notification saying the listing could be a scam. I was a little hesitant to contact the agent but thought “Meh, I won’t wire anyone any money.”

I set up a viewing and put in an application, still worried it could be a scam. But when I got a call from the agent telling me I didn’t get the place, I was gutted. I had already planned the layout in my head and fantasized about all the furniture I would buy. (I landed here via the West Coast and brought nothing with me so I was excited to start from scratch.) A few days later, I got another call from the agent telling me the original applicant dropped out and the place was mine!

What is your favorite room and why? I don’t really have a favorite room (since it’s basically one big room), but I have a favorite feature. It’s the fireplace. I love how it anchors the space and creates some interest by breaking up the rectangular room. And, who doesn’t love a mantel? I was able to save on furniture because I used the mantel area to add additional storage. I keep it decorated with fresh flowers and really like the look when the candles in the fireplace are lit.

My sister found and painted Lincoln’s bust.

(Image credit: Jenna Godfrey)

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? If I could magically change something about my home it would be the ability to move it with me. I would love to be able to go anywhere in the world and just plop it down—no searching, no sourcing, just everything in its right place and ready to go. But, while this would be nice, I would be missing out on another kind of magic. The magic of starting fresh on a new adventure.

Any advice for creating a home you love? To create a home I love is to cultivate an environment that makes me feel calm, supported, and inspired. For me, this requires taking responsibility for the objects that fill my home.

Everything I bring into my home has an energy, a past, a future. Before I bring something in I ask myself, “Do I need this?” “Do I love this?” “How does this object make me feel?.” I end up buying plenty of things that I don’t “need” but I always consider the circulation of these goods.

My favorite objects are hand-me-downs from my grandmothers, both of whom are deceased. I like to remember them every time I see the beautiful objects they passed down to me. For larger pieces, I try to buy second hand and invest in new things only if I would be willing to move them with me. I’ve done a lot of big moves and for me the right balance of “stuff” is about a car full of soft furnishings that I really really love and can take with me wherever I go.

And for furniture, I try to buy second hand and keep it in good condition to resell. If something is in great condition but doesn’t sell on Craigslist, I donate to organizations like A Wider Circle. They will pick up your furniture for free and deliver it to someone who can use it in their home.

Thanks, Rachel!

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