As faithful blog followers know, I sold my small business in 2015 and moved to Seattle for grad school.
I rented rooms for my first term, then fell in love with the tiny 280 square foot apartments in a 100-year-old apartment building in downtown. This, despite the fact that my first internet search of the apartment name returned this unsettling auto-suggest:
Undaunted (I love old buildings, what can I say), I applied. In December I moved into a 280 square foot apartment in a building that formerly served as housing for dock workers and was, for several years in the recent past, a featured stop on the Haunted Walking Tour of Seattle. (I googled it, apparently, there are stories about bodies in murphy beds and a feature on Unsolved Mysteries.)
Happy to trade a few ghost stories for high ceilings and solid wood floors instead of the prefab fiberboard-built micro-apartments popping up all over Seattle, it was my home for almost 4 years before I took off on world travels and eventually settled back into a Seattle suburb and then in the cottage in Saint Louis.
Click Thumbnail for Slideshow- Or Keep Scrolling for Full Descriptions
Since showing off decor and projects was such a fun part of maintaining this blog when I lived full time at Hawk Hill, I’d love to take a few minutes to show off my new 280 square foot space and some projects here.
It doesn’t get grander than the entrance to the building. (Literally. The entrance got some cash dropped on it by the builder that definitely didn’t make it into the rest of the building’s architecture!) I love the entrance and feel very “big city” when I get to say to someone I’m walking home with “this is my building.”
Past the entrance, the building is pretty utilitarian. My friends describe the vibe as “haunted hotel meets college dorm”, and that feels pretty accurate.
My first look at my apartment wasn’t what I dreamed. But even crawling over someone’s stuff, I knew it was good space.
And on moving day I got my first real look at the space. It looked a lot bigger when empty, but I stilled gulped at the idea of making a 207 foot living space work. (It’s about 280 total, when bathroom, hall, kitchen, and closet are added, but the single room that functions as bedroom, living room, dining room, and office measures 12ft by 17 ft)
Slowly I began to make it home.
Flowers helped. A lot. Especially in the weeks right after my move where I literally only had a mattress and a bar cart as furniture!
A 6 block walk to Seattle’s Pike Place market means being able to take advantage of very cheap flowers, and as a consolation for living in 280 square feet, I bought myself a big bouquet most weeks.
Honestly, this view from all my windows still kind of makes me swoon. As a midwestern transplant to Seattle, I’m absolutely in love with the ferries that traverse the Puget Sound. Watching ferries come and go while I make coffee in the morning makes the top 10 list of favorite things about my 280 square foot apartment. The blue smokestack in this photo is a cruise ship- they come and go a few times a week in the summer.
A tour of my 280 square foot apartment.
I’d been in enough studios to know to avoid the temptation to wall-off sections with partitions or bookshelves. I knew rather than sectioning the tiny studio apartment I wanted to focus on making a big statement in a small space, and a good way to do that would be to invest in one fancy statement piece of furniture. Enter: my Big Blue Bed.
I scoped Seattle Craigslist for about two weeks before I found a couple selling this ornate wood bed, natural-wood colored stain and smelling faintly of cat pee, for $150. 1 wash with vinegar, 2 coats of Zinzer 123 Bullseye primer (to get full adhesion of paint to the slick lacquer that was protecting the wood stain), and literally 5 or 6 coats of Benjamin Moore “Admiral Blue” and I had the big statement piece I was dreaming of.
With the manager’s permission, I painted the opposing wall in matching Benjamin Moore Admiral Blue to build a color theme. The large blue bed opposite the blue statement wall works really well, I think, to make the small studio feel balanced color-wise.
The kitchen is tiny and cute, though less than charming to cook in. I cannot imagine what it’s like cooking for more than one or, God forbid, WITH more than one in this kitchen. The pull out cutting board and cabinets that reach to the ceiling help a little with space issues, though.
You can see my kitchen has room for literally ONE appliance and I chose an electronic pressure cooker. Strange choice? Maybe, but I love this thing- and think I will probably do a blog post on it soon. An electronic pressure cooker can be used like a super-fast crock pot, but can basically do anything a pot on the stove can do: I make scrambled eggs, homemade chai tea, grilled cheese, even pasta in my pressure cooker on various settings.
Here’s the one I had in MO and actually had shipped from MO to myself in Seattle. It’s a little easier to navigate and clean than pots and skillets in my tiny kitchen, and feels a little safer in terms of navigating heat in a kitchen where it’s really easy to get too close to a hot pan or burner.
Tips for living in 280 square feet
One of my best tips for tiny living: Identify things you MUST have but don’t want to look at regularly (For me: microwave, printer, toolbox, etc.) and making hiding them a priority. I chose to hang clothes on wood hangers in an open area of my entry hallway, and instead to use the closet for a shelving unit that stored utilitarian ugly necessities.
For other uglies that I need access to daily: contact lenses, mouthwash, hair gel, etc, I keep my eye out at thrift stores for vintage liquor decanters, lotion/soap dispensers (which work great for hair gel), and wide bail-top jars.
The following section may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Some folks have asked me where my furniture came from, so I’ll list below:
Floor Lamp – Crosby Schoolhouse Floor Lamp – Black
Nightstand Lamp – Crosby Schoolhouse Desk Lamp – White
Foggy Forest wall hanging in my Bathroom – The Heart Of My Heart Wall Tapestry
Blue Whale tapestry hanging above bed – Blue Whale Wall Tapestry
Hot Pink Armchair – discontinued
Linen Loveseat – discontinued
Bathroom Storage Cart – Storage Cart – White – Room Essentials
Laptop Table in front of Loveseat – discontinued
Night Stand – Ikea Hemnes 2-Drawer Chest
Desk – Ikea Tabletop + 2 Industrial Style Barstools
Bed – Craigslist
Desk chair – Thrifting
Selling the contents of my large home in Missouri via a flea market booth, and rehoming my dog with a lovely family with teens and acreage made it possible to move to this gritty block in the urban neighborhood of Belltown in Seattle, where I stayed for 4 years before taking off on a year of travel, a year of Coronavirus quarantine, and ultimately ending up back in Missouri, this time on the other side of the state in a 1910 cottage urban St Louis, where Hawk Hill’s story continues.