We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Name: Denise Bayron
Location: Oakland, California
Size: 280 square feet
Type of Home: Tiny house, ADU
Years lived in: 2 years, renting
Denise Bayron is a knitwear designer and sewing pattern maker, but also an expert when it comes to turning a tiny house into a functional and inspiring home and creative workspace. She’s so good it, she actually won Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool contest in the Tiny category in 2021. “Living in a tiny house is the right choice for me,” she explains in her video tour. “It feels the most normal because I was raised in New York City where everyone lives in a small space.” This home — all 280 square feet — isn’t even the smallest home she’s lived in! The last place she called home was 180 square feet.
Denise’s Small/Cool Winning 280 Square Foot Oakland Studio | House Tours
Not only is her home lovely in terms of the way it looks, with neutral colors inspired by nature and natural textures, it’s also incredibly functional and organized. Some of the ways she maximized her small home’s space: She created a sleeping nook with a bookshelf that serves as both storage and a divider. She utilizes all the space under her bed for things like laundry, shoes, and even exercise equipment. She installed a long shelf high on a wall to make the most of vertical space. And perhaps most interestingly, one of the things she did to keep her small home feeling good is embrace negative space — there’s no art on the walls and no TV. “When I move through my space and I see intentional space between items, my eye is able to rest, and then psychologically I am able to rest,” Denise explains.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Describe your space: I wanted my home to feel like a light-filled atrium. My first goal was to create a functional layout by selecting the larger furniture pieces as a foundation. Then I added accessories and my plant buddies. What makes it special is that it is both a home and a studio. It is cool because of the location. It is tucked behind a larger house in the middle of a bustling city. It feels like an oasis with a tiny, glass house tucked in a garden. This home has become a gathering place for the people I love the most. I’ve been able to host friends around a fire even during the lockdown.
How does your home reflect you? My home reflects my desire to live sustainably, as 90 percent of the furniture was purchased secondhand.
My sofa was the most amazing find! I bought it (new in the box) off of Craigslist from someone who purchased it from West Elm but was unhappy with the color. Can you believe it?
Did you DIY anything in your space? I put up the shelves above the desk alcove for maximum use of the vertical space. I managed to get them up there while standing on a 6-foot ladder and balancing the shelves on my head.
I knit the blanket that is at the foot of my bed. I also designed the macrame plant hanger in the bathroom. My “favorite” is always the most recent project I’ve made. Right now it’s the cable-knit pillow on the sofa, which is one of my pattern designs.
How do you make your small space work for you and feel bigger than it really is? The large table, when folded, is only 8 inches in depth. When open, it is a large surface for drafting and cutting fabric. It also doubles as a dining table when friends come over. The shelving unit alongside the bed functions as a credenza, storage for my knitwear samples, and also forms a little bed nook for privacy.
My platform bed has a foot of clearance underneath it so that I can store my shoes, laundry, and even an elliptical under there! Further, I have a collection of custom-made hats. I hang them on the wall where they serve as decor while making use of the vertical space!
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.