Design

How This Maximalist Family Thrives in a 600-Square-Foot Apartment

Bridget Watson Payne San Francisco Home

Bridget Watson Payne, her husband, Bill, and their seven-year-old daughter, Mabel, live in a cozy one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Bridget is an artist, editor and author; and Bill is a special education teacher. They’re a family of color-loving maximalists, who make living in a small space more than work. “We kind of live on top of each other, but we’re all comfortable with that,” says Bridget. Take a peek inside…

LIVING/DINING AREA
A 600-Square-Foot Family Apartment in San Francisco

Sofa: Crate & Barrel. Ottoman: Wayfair. Rug: vintage, similar. Curtains: homemade with fabric from Britex. Bookshelves: Fenton MacLaren. Yellow table: vintage, similar. Butterfly chair: CB2.

On neighborhood shopping: When my husband and I decided to move in together 15 years ago, we walked around the city and fell in love with this area between Nob Hill and the Tenderloin. We love the wide diversity of people and how the sidewalks are never empty. There are cafés where you can sit outside and chat, and everything you need is within a block.

On the magic of windows: Our realtor mentioned she had an apartment that wasn’t ready yet. We convinced her to show it to us anyway. When we walked in, the floor was covered in tarps, there were paint buckets everywhere, and you couldn’t see anything except the windows. The light was flooding in and we saw the circular details, and even though it was basically a construction site, we instantly knew it was our place.

A 600-Square-Foot Family Apartment in San Francisco

Glass rack: The Container Store spray-painted gold, similar. Read Instead print: Book/Shop.

On living in a small space: Our apartment is 600 square feet, and we are certainly not minimalists! We make it work because I’m a bit of an organizational nuts. We tidy up every evening, and everything has a designated spot. Since our kitchen is so small, we actually store a lot of stuff in our living room. We keep our glasses on the gold rack, and the black desk drawers hold our silverware, napkins and linens. Inevitably, anyone who comes over and is looking for a fork won’t be able to find it.

On love letters: If there were a fire, we’d grab the vintage suitcases on top of the bookshelves. One is stuffed with all the letters I wrote to my husband in the early days of our romance; the other has all the letters he wrote to me. I was living in the East Bay and he was living in the city, so we only saw each other on the weekends, and got really into mailing each other letters. Yes, we’re actually old enough that we were writing letters on paper, although it was a slightly retro-affected thing to be doing even then.

A 600-Square-Foot Family Apartment in San Francisco

Green chair: vintage, similar. Blue chair: CB2, similar.

On the bookshelves: When Mabel was a baby, we put her crib in the corner of the living room. When she got bigger, we put up a plywood wall of bookshelves to section off a room for her. We love the bookshelves. One of the first things we had to figure out when Bill and I moved in together was what we were going to do with all our books! We ended up creating a elaborate organizational system: they’re divided into books that I’ve read, books that he’s read, ones we’ve both read, ones neither of us have, and within these sections, they’re all alphabetical.

On early dinner parties: It’s a little tricky hosting now that the living room space is smaller, but we like to have friends with kids over for an early 4 o’clock dinner. This way there’s plenty of time for relaxing, and no one is rushed to get home for bedtime. Our table has an extra leaf, and we use the various chairs we have stashed around the apartment. It basically takes up the whole living room, but we can snugly seat eight people. It helps that some of them are children.

MABEL’S SLEEPING NOOK (FORMERLY PART OF THE LIVING ROOM)

Paper flower: Tiffanie Turner.

On chapter books: Mabel is very proud that she now reads by herself for a half an hour in bed before lights out. She’s obsessed with Harry Potter. I’ve been warned by other parents that the books get longer and darker as they go on. I keep waiting for her to get to the point where she stops because it’s too scary. We’ll see, she’s pretty brave!

San Francisco House Tour

Bed frame: Target, similar. Bedding: Garnet Hill, similar.

On naming their daughter: Mabel is my great-grandmother’s name. We loved it, but we decided to wait until we met the baby to see if she could pull it off. We took one look and were like, oh yeah, that’s a Mabel. Her middle name is Peony. I have an artist friend, Tiffanie Turner, who makes huge paper flowers. When we were building Mabel’s room, we commissioned her to make a peony that would be the first thing you see. It makes me really happy.

KITCHEN
A 600-Square-Foot Family Apartment in San Francisco

On cooking: Bill and I have gotten good at cooking together in a tiny kitchen and not crashing into one another. With two jobs and a school-age kid, we do quick and easy stuff. Bill finds it relaxing to go into the kitchen at the end of the day and whip up dinner. He’ll make pasta or lamb burgers. We were really excited about asparagus season and had that every night for a few months.

A 600-Square-Foot Family Apartment in San Francisco

On Cook’s Illustrated: We subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated, the beautiful food magazine that’s been around forever. On the back cover of every issue, they have a drawing of all the types of some food — all the citrus, all the oysters, all the cheese… We loved them and decided to hang them up around the kitchen.

On a multi-tasking kitchen: We have a rule: no single-use things. If something has the name of a food in it — an egg slicer, a cherry pitter — you can probably just do it with a knife.

A 600-Square-Foot Family Apartment in San Francisco

Clock: Bai Design.

On keepsakes: The rose hooks in the kitchen are from my mom’s childhood bedroom. When I was first dating Bill, I was in graduate school and living at home with my mom in the East Bay. When I moved out, I raided the house a little and took these hooks with me.

BEDROOM
Bridget Watson Payne San Francisco Home

On close quarters: Our bedroom is right between the kitchen and the living room, so it has become part of the common hangout space. We have glass doors to our room, so it’s possible to get some privacy, but most of the time we’re all flowing freely through it. Mabel might feel differently when she’s a teenager, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

On color: My love of color is deep and profound. An initial regret about our apartment, is that because we rent, we can’t paint the walls. But I’ve come around to feeling good about this — the white walls make a nice backdrop and makes the home feel eclectic instead of overwhelming. I usually want everything in color, my clothing, my decor, my hair! I had it platinum blonde forever, but two years ago I went pink and realized this was the true me.

Bridget Watson Payne San Francisco Home

Yellow bookshelf: vintage, similar. Blue art: Daniel Garzi. Squirrel plate: Isabelle Samaras. Blue bookshelf: IKEA painted blue. Bed frame: vintage, similar.

On winding down: After we put Mabel to bed at eight, my husband and I try to get stuff done around the house for an hour; then from nine to ten, we hang out. Earlier in the week, when we have more energy, we’ll read. Right now, I’m loving Patti Smith’s new book, Devotion. By the end of the week, we just want to relax and watch TV. We’re into Drunk History — sometimes you just need a short and funny show.

Bridget Watson Payne San Francisco Home Tour

Desk: Vintage, similar. Green lamp: Living Accents.

On collecting art: As an art book editor, I’m lucky to work with lots of artists. The painting of the chair above my desk was the original cover of a book I did with the artist Lisa Congdon, one of my long-term authors. Lately, the art has been proliferating even more because I’ve gotten involved in Artist Take Action, an Instagram account that does an art auction every month with all the proceeds going to a charity. My own art has been auctioned, and it’s so easy and tempting to bid on things!

BATHROOM

On sharing a bathroom: When Mabel started school, we worked it out very carefully on paper: when everyone gets up, when everyone uses the bathroom, when everyone leaves the house. Our morning has a choreographed, predictable routine. It’s sort of like a ballet, everyone goes in order and it works.

On creating personal space: I’m an introvert, but I feel like my introversion has made an exception for my husband and daughter. Bill and I are pretty quiet, while Mabel is a boisterous seven-year-old. But over the years we’ve gotten used to a certain level of noise. With anyone else, I would probably be like, ‘get out of my space!’ but we have such a porous relationship with one another that we’re comfortable being together.

Bridget Watson Payne San Francisco Home Tour

Thank you so much, Bridget!

P.S. Many more house tours, including a New Hampshire cabin and a Brooklyn high-rise apartment.

(Photos by Lena Corwin for Cup of Jo.)

  1. I’m a big fan of maximalism in small spaces. It’s not easy to pull off without looking like a cluttered mess, but when it’s done well, like it is here, it’s always such a welcoming and vibrant space.

  2. I might just pin every single photo from this house tour. And I can totally see how they fell in love with the windows, especially the one in their dining nook. What a charming home!

  3. Elizabeth says...

    This is gorgeous inspo for tiny living! My husband and I just finished renovating a vintage Airstream, and we’re moving in two weeks from now. I play at minimalism, but I hoard books and papers, and my husband is an unabashed maximalist. I’m going to need some of these organizational tips from Bridget. :)

  4. We are a family of 5 people, 2 cats and a big white Labrador, living in an 850 square foot house. We have a large back yard which helps. But to manage and mother successfully in this small space I study how other people live in small spaces (love your design posts) and binge read about how to get rid of and keep clutter at a minimum. When we go to my parent’s 2000 square foot house, I am so surprised at how much easier it is to clean and how nice it is to be able to make food in the kitchen with more than one person. But I still love our small…basically tiny house. The hardest part is the dog likes to sleep on the sofa and so I have a covered-part sectioned off for him. He is a big boy so he needs a significant part of the small house and not to just be banished to a corner. Also…the cats are too afraid of the dog to go outside to use the bathroom these days, so we have had to bring in a litter box. The litter box is kept in the bathtub. We learned to keep it in there because if it is kept out on the bathroom floor, the cats kick litter everywhere and my kids end up tracking it around the house on their feet and into their beds. YUCK. So with the litter box in the bathtub, the litter stays contained and I clean it out once a day before evening bath time…spray some diluted bleach in the bath and move the box just for the evening until all 3 kids are in bed. It is a lot, but we aren’t going to get rid of the fluffy sweet family cats so this is what works best.
    I like the kids growing up close to me though. I can hear if someone gets sick in the night and I never worry about anyone breaking in the house as I can hear everything in every room. And our dog is a pretty loud barker.
    So we have a pretty crazy life in our small house. But I love that we have our gorgeous little Westelm dining table that I saved up for for a year. And we have guitars hanging in 2 rooms. We have only items that are useful on a frequent basis, or are beautiful or loved. Laundry is the hardest as it needs to be done in the shed and is easy to get behind with. But I read about the family of 6 who live in the white school bus and feel very connected. It is nice to not be the only ones thriving in a small space. We are a house of love and learning and I feel so incredibly grateful for this roof over our heads and the sweet eclectic neighborhood we live in. :) One day we will add on a bedroom and a second bathroom…maybe even an office for my wedding video business. For now, I’m happy with what we have.

  5. I love how they make everything work for them instead of fitting their colorful lives around the ‘constraints’ of their space.

    xx

  6. Leah says...

    This looks so homey and cozy and beautifully lived in! And all those shelves! <3

  7. Nat says...

    this is officially my favorite home tour EVER! Beautiful, colourful, cosy and real. Creativity & Love is what transpire from all the images. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  8. I loved this tour so much! It’s wonderful to see a family home that’s so colourful, aesthetically pleasing, organised and NOT minimalist. Thank you!

  9. mimi says...

    I grew up with exactly the same tile in our bathroom!

  10. LJ says...

    I adore this couple and their apartment. It feels very happy and cozy. :)

  11. simone says...

    What a gorgeously colourful and happy home, so many interesting things to look at, wow! LOVE the peony too!!

  12. Kathryn says...

    Suitcases of love letters! Relationship goals right there. What a treasure to cherish and pass down (and hopefully never have to rescue from flames). Alas, I just spent four years dating in San Francisco and any remaining the letter writers evaded me, but my hope in love (and the world) is renewed!

  13. Lavita says...

    Aah the Tender-Nob! Such a beautiful and magical neighborhood that I have very fond memories of. And such a warm and colorful home.

  14. Anna says...

    I really loved reading about and seeing this lovely family and their quirky apartment. In what seems like an “insta-perfect” world sometimes, their home seemed so genuine and personal. The books! The vintage furniture! The pictures! … So beautiful. And I adored their creative approach to needing a room for their daughter. A wonderful post. Thank you Cup of Jo!

  15. Jax says...

    I didn’t read the post at first, just looked at the pics, and I immediately went — “That’s a San Francisco apartment!”

    • Ally says...

      SAME!

  16. What a sweet family and space! I love these house tours. It’s fun to see how other people live (and maybe steal an idea or two).

  17. Well, I suppose now I’m going to have to stop bitching about my little tiny kitchen (which is actually bigger than theirs) and actually COOK something in it!

    When we moved from suburban FL to intown Atlanta (one of the best decisions ever), we gave up between 400-600 square feet of space. Our home suits us, but I’ve always thought it was small. But now I’ve got a new perspective: it’s not that small; we’re just not capitalizing on the space we’ve got.

    Thanks for the tour. Loved it.

  18. Mary says...

    I love the color in their apartment! It looks so bright and welcoming. Also, the idea of a plywood bookshelf wall to create a separate room for Mabel: totally inspired.

  19. Tamina says...

    Thank you for the home tour. I am curious to hear more about the plywood wall, how do you get in the kids room, how did you attach it to the floor/wall/ceiling without destroying anything in a rental, how well does it keep out noise?

    • Trish O says...

      I also wonder about this. I could not figure out the living room flow

    • M says...

      I was wondering the same… I would love if those home stories included a floor plan. Nothing overly professional- a sketch would do it just to get an idea how the rooms are situated.

  20. Gen says...

    I LOVE that you put up a wall and just MADE A ROOM! So resourceful!

  21. Helen says...

    Obsessed with that rug!! I did some research and Lulu and Georgia is selling one that looks so so so close to it! It’s the Lalita Rug I’m so excited to replicate this look.

  22. I love their home! Thanks for the wonderful tour. Whenever I hear of somebody named Mabel, I can’t help but think of an episode of Mad About You (was anybody else a fan of that fabulous sitcom with Helen Hunt, Paul Reiser, and a great supporting cast that was on for years back in the 90s?). This episode was about how they’re getting ready to have a baby and are going round and round trying to decide on a name, while everybody has their opinion, etc. At the end – I believe it was after learning this from one of their own mothers – they go in a totally different direction and choose MABEL. . . because it stands for Mothers Always Bring Extra Love. How sweet is that? It still gets me after all these years. :)

    • Jillian says...

      Yes, I make the very same connection when I hear the name Mabel. I smile every time.

    • Sophie says...

      I just heard that they’re doing a reboot of Mad About You!

    • YES! Remember how it was kind of controversial at the time (and now it’s kind of popular)?

    • Thanks, Sophie! I had no idea. Can’t wait to see the the new version. I wonder if Mabel will be in it? :)

    • Luna says...

      Every single time! lol

    • Mabel says...

      I’m a Mabel! And I grew up really disliking my name because I lived in a part of a world where that name is super uncommon and often mispronounced – it was embarrassing! And I got teased ALL the time.

      But I remember this Mad About You episode – it was the finale, no? And my mother felt so vindicated when she watched it with me aired! (Because I was so vocal about how I felt about my name…) But then their daughter grew up and was fighting with Helen Hunt about how much she hated her name and wanted to rename herself to Sonia – and said that it was also an anagram. And Helen Hunt’s character was like, “oh yeah? What is it!” “Some Other Name In Anagram!” That was my turn to whoop!

      I still get excited when I see another person called Mabel, but I’m still not crazy about my name, but have sort of grown to like it for its quirkiness :)

  23. Laken says...

    This inspired me to subscribe to cooks magazine. Its so rare for me to read a physical magazine anymore, but the prints alone seem worth it! Plus, how fun is it to get mail that isn’t a bill or an advertisement.

    P.S. Would love to see her week of outfits!

    • LJ says...

      I second this!

  24. Mary A says...

    I’ve got the same rose hooks from my mother’s childhood bedroom!
    Great apartment!

  25. I absolutely love your home and your family seems so wonderful! Thank you for sharing. . .

  26. K says...

    bookmarking this for future inspiration when I move back into my 500-square foot apartment

  27. Annie says...

    Love the one-use rule.

  28. Thank you for a wonderful post about a wonderful family! I love seeing how people create space within small space, and how they learn to bend and flow around each other. We’re a family of four living in a loft that’s basically one big room, so I respect and admire other families who find creative ways to make it work…while staying true to the design aesthetic that brings joy!

  29. Wendy says...

    How does Mabel access her little nook behind the bookshelf? It’s so mysterious! (And very Harry Potter—a cross between the bed room under the stairs, and platform 9 3/4!

    • Luna says...

      Yes to this!
      It’s actually doing my head in, the access point
      I loved your Harry Potter references too.

  30. Beckxoxo says...

    I love this so much. I feel like I could be Bridgets opposite. I have a predominantly black, white and navy wardrobe. I wear my hair in a neat blonde bob. I have a biggish house with minimal stuff. Something about these interview though just made me want to dive into their life. How warm and beautiful and cozy it seems. Absolutely lovely.

  31. Towely says...

    Really wanna know where that shower curtain is from………

  32. Laurie says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this home with us! We live in a 800 square foot house in a city with a tight housing market and it’s reassuring to see others make the same choices for the sake of city living. We walk everywhere and live out on our front steps, meeting everyone. It’s great for the planet and our kids’ social lives.

    But, my favorite part of a small house is when my son yells, “Mom! Where are you?” And from about four feet away, I say, “Dude. I’m right here. Always. Right here.”

    Oh yeah, and I also like it when we have to move the Christmas tree to get into the dining room. We put it on wheels.

    Small House Life!

    • Nicole says...

      800 square foot and a front porch we love to live on for me too! It has been a great choice for us both socially and environmentally, which are both priorities in my life.
      Cheers to Small Home Life!

    • Emma says...

      I’m very confused about everyone calling this space or 800square foot small. I understand this house tour shows a less than ideal layout, but just the square foot seem totally fine to me. Might be because I grew up in a family of four living in 850sqft with one tiny bathroom and one small galley kitchen and it never seemed small to me, but honestly, that is fairly average in so many places her in Europe.

      I’m not saying this to be negative, I just fell like calling your home small the way it is often used nowadays on every interior design platform seems kind of apologetic, as it is often said in the same sentence with a reason why this is necessary. It just always seems so apologetic.
      On the other hand hardly ever does someone apoligize or justify or gives reasons for having lots of bathrooms or playrooms or gyms or excessive storage space, as though this was the rule and not the exception.

    • Lottie says...

      “Dude. I’m right here. Always. Right here.” – haha thats brilliant!
      Love the Christmas tree on wheels – now i think they should always come on wheels! Cheers to small house life!

    • Susan Miller-Josselyn says...

      We are a family of three + two cats in 900 square feet and love it. We solved the issue of storage by not having many possessions.

      More importantly, though, where did she get the DRESS? I love the pattern.

  33. Elise says...

    I love this so much. This is one of the first house tours I can really relate to! My husband and I live in a larger space than this but LOVE color and don’t describe ourselves at all as minimalists. All of our walls are painted dark or bright colors and I just love it. We want to have one kid and the last part about Bridget’s introversion really struck me and made me hopeful that I could experience something similar.

  34. Grace says...

    “With anyone else, I would probably be like, ‘get out of my space!’ but we have such a porous relationship with one another that we’re comfortable being together.”
    This is so beautifully put. As a fake extrovert/true introvert, this is how I know someone gets me- when they have managed to break that barrier. I have never been able to articulate it quite like this.

  35. Lena says...

    Loved this! I’m absolutely fascinated by how families live in smaller spaces, and this one felt very well-loved and in lived in without breaking the bank.

  36. What a lovely and lively family!

  37. Dana says...

    What a loveable family and a real, cozy, lovely home. This is a really good one!

  38. Tamara says...

    Loved this! We’re a family of three living in a small (Melbourne) city apartment too, having resisted the Aussie tendency to do the big suburban house and garden, and we absolutely love it.

  39. Heather says...

    Sometimes you need to watch something that’s short and funny………..

    And that is why I have watched The Office 19283626 times!

  40. Julie M. says...

    They look so…happy! The ubiquity of minimalism was getting me down.

    • Congee says...

      I saw that too, what a sweet, happy crew. I like that they can stay organized and not be minimal. I’m realizing that for me it’s tiugh and I spend too much time moving unused possessions around. Love their color!

  41. Beth says...

    Thank you for featuring small houses and how they operate for families! Like many who live in big cities, we love living near the action but I’m wondering how we will make our small space work for us! You have shown how so many others do it successfully.
    However it would be great if you could show some floor plans. I sometimes find it hard to visualise where things are without an overall layout. Just a suggestion:)

    • Meghan says...

      I was just going to say this exact thing! I love these posts and seeing all the creative ways people style their apartments, but find it difficult to visualize how they all fit together!

    • Bonnie Hudson says...

      Yes Please! My husband and I and our 18-month-old will be attempting a small living situation so that we can afford to stay in the neighborhood we love. Any suggestions on layout or design hacks/ do’s and dont’s for a small space (especially with kids) would be so welcome!

    • Julia says...

      Yes! Would love to see a floor plan.

  42. Dana says...

    Love the happiness of this home; it’s joy and pleasure combined! Thanks for this post.

  43. riye says...

    Great post! Of course I’m a sucker for small spaces with tons of books. :-) (Probably because I have a tiny apartment with a ton of books.) I’m eating lunch now and trying to read the titles on their shelves.

    P.S. I love Bridget’s pink hair. So cute. Would love to try it but my hair is too dark and I’d probably end up with no hair.

  44. Cazza says...

    Cosy and happy, what’s not to love.

  45. Katie says...

    Really enjoyed this maximalist post. I love all the books.

  46. Cheryl says...

    I live in a Brooklyn 1-bedroom with my husband, 1-year-old and 45 lb dog and I think Bridget and her sweet family are my more stylish spirit animals. We’ve also divided up space using a bookcase (used for a mix of baskets with baby clothes and books) and shudder when a single-use kitchen gadget arrives as a gift. (I also have a secret stash of cooks illustrated covers that I’ve always wanted to use as kitchen decor!) My husband and I are constantly discussing the merits of moving, but we love many things about our diverse, relaxed neighborhood and walk-everywhere lifestyle. We’re due to refresh a few pieces and this has given me inspiration to embrace a touch more color and pizzazz! (And Mabel, Harry Potter is the best. Go at your own speed and enjoy!)

  47. Rachel says...

    I’m so happy that these posts are looking more real and less stylized. That’s an amazing apt that feels liveable and imperfect. Takes the pressure off!

    • Anna says...

      Yeah!

  48. Anne says...

    With six of us in our home sharing a bathroom I really appreciate this post! Our (working!) bathroom ballet is a masterpiece.

  49. Lindsey says...

    Cutest family EVER!

  50. Louisa says...

    3 years ago I was interviewing for jobs in SF (a dream job) and Boise. With 2 dogs, a husband, a kid and a normal income, we chose Boise. Seeing these photos, which are awesome, I know I made the right choice for us!
    Good for her, not for me! ;)

    • Mattie says...

      HA! This made me laugh! I grew up in Boise and it was a horrible, small minded town. Good on it for growing so quickly but *shudder*…good for you, definitely not for me! ;)

  51. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Can you source the light colored bookshelves in the living room? Are they IKEA Billy bookcases?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask! xo

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Hi Melissa! Bridget says they’re from Fenton MacLaren in Berkeley. They make pine shelves in standard sizes and also do custom orders.
      (The blue shelves in the bedroom and the orange ones in Mabel’s room are repainted Billy bookcases, though. :)

  52. Christy says...

    Love the posts with tours! I even purchased the “Read instead…” print featured in this one. Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, such a great print! thank you so much, christy.

  53. Purnima says...

    This is my favorite of the home tours you’ve featured. I felt like every nook and cranny “spoke” about the owners – all those books! all that art! – and Bridget’s explanation of the rationale behind each design choice was so perfect. Such lovely windows into the three personalities living and breathing in this space. Sometimes, I feel like Cup of Jo features homes of a certain type – soothing, stylish, but tending towards minimalism. This was a refreshing change, and proof that colorful, maximalist living can also be calm and contained in a small space.

  54. Joana says...

    I love her and her mind…!!! :-)
    I really enjoyed this tour and reading about their way of living.

  55. Amy D says...

    Bridget, I have a very old home with vintage tile countertops. I loath them because they are impossible to keep clean? Do you have any magic secrets to share by chance?

    • Ryan says...

      luckily I don’t have tile counters anymore but using a very large cutting board on top of the tile can help keep the grout clean. I hated that I couldn’t knead dough or roll anything out on the tile.

    • sunny says...

      I saw a solution to build a plywood counter to fit over existing counters for a rental on Remodelista. Tons of work, but not expensive if you are handy.

    • JoLynn says...

      I have an all white kitchen with snowy white English tiles. My arsenal includes Soft Scrub Gel with Bleach , Scrubbing Bubbles Foaming Bleach Spray cleaner and Magic Erasers!

  56. sasha lindberg says...

    What a super sweet family! I loved this peek into their lovely colorful and cozy home. One of my favorites so far.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad, sasha!

  57. Morgan says...

    Related/unrelated I would love to see CoJ feature mamas/families/living spaces/week of outfits/parenting around the world where there are 3+ kids.

  58. Carolyn M says...

    I’ve got a Mabel, too. Named after her great-grandfather’s aunt. <3<3

  59. Sarah says...

    Where is the whale print above the desk from?

    • Amanda says...

      I would also love to know! :-)

  60. K says...

    I love how she speaks of the morning bathroom ballet. That’s how I grew up: my brother, my mother and myself in one bathroom and we had it timed perfectly. My brother always was allowed in the bathroom in the time slot before my mom and I needed to dry our hair. If he ever got up late, I’m sure we blamed him for our bad hair days!

  61. Alycia says...

    Oh my gosh, I love Bridget so much. Her blog and Instagram are so bright and lovely. This is a great profile!

  62. Ro says...

    You had me until “our bedroom is between the living room and kitchen”! I feel like one would be painful for me.

    We are a family of four in 692 square feet, so this was really fun to see! It can definitely be done and I love the style here.

  63. Maia says...

    Love this tour! This is my ‘hood or very close to it and they are so right about everything you need being a block away. Great use of space and I like seeing how a couple and young child make it work living in SF.

  64. Blythe says...

    This post gave me an idea! It would SO LOVELY to talk to people about the various places they’ve lived. From first apartments, to cohabiting with a loved one or roomie, to moving across state/country, to bringing home babies or doggos. Where we’ve lived tells a story! This post made me reflect on my own 600-square-foot apartment – my time first living alone! Each place marks a little stepping stone of adulthood.

    Just a thought :) :) :)

    • sasha lindberg says...

      I love this idea!

      It’s just so interesting hearing how other people live, what they love about their spaces, how things fit into their current lives, and it’s fun to see an evolution there as well.

    • Thao says...

      Brilliant idea!! My husband and I have lived in 11 places in the ten years we’ve known each other – it’s been a ride. I would LOVE to hear about others’ homes / moves / life stages… so fascinating!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, thao, that’s so many places!

    • Kim says...

      Ha ha, Blythe, I feel you! About six years ago I moved to a new city to live near my then bf (now husband) I have lived in 11 different spaces since then! Three have been temp housing through work, but that’s still unpacking and moving.
      We just made a cross country move, and I was dead set on buying so we wouldn’t have to do it again, but the stress of trying to find a home so quickly eventually won out. I have moved around a lot, even before my relationship with my husband. I’ve always, always thought I’d done it all wrong, but I recently was talking to my SILs mother and she said, “Oh, you’ve had a life of adventure! I wish I’d moved around more when I was young.” That was a pleasant gift of a comment that I’ve treasured since. It’s funny how even though, that’s sort of the idea I’d had at 23 when I made my first big move, and in all that time and stress of moving, trying to maintain friendships, etc I’d forgotten about the adventure of it all. I agree, I love the stories of people’s moves and homes. Interesting stuff.

    • Kimberley says...

      Love this Blythe! I totally agree – having moved 12 times in the last 9 years, including 3 different countries. And I was recently thinking about that old saying that “renting is like pouring money down the drain” but Iike to think of it as seeing all the different places I might want to live without the committment. :)

  65. Denise says...

    I love all the books and the vintage desk. Those desks remind me of my grandfather. He was a clockmaker and had several desks like that filled with tiny tools. Fun apartment tour.

  66. aga says...

    Love this! Real and livable!

  67. Kim says...

    I love this place, the books everywhere (and the way they are organized!) her true me hair, everything. I’m curious how Mabel gets into her sleep quarters, though! I love the plywood wall with book shelves

  68. Hannah says...

    I felt kindred spirit-y when I saw the cooks illustrated covers in the kitchen!! When we first got married, my husband and I did that too!! ??? we weren’t able to take them with us when we moved, but I’ll always remember them fondly. Our daughter knows at least a dozen more types of mushrooms and shellfish than we did at her age because of those! Haha ?

  69. Wendy says...

    I would tell Bridget that painted walls are not all they’re cracked up to be. I own a home now and couldn’t WAIT to paint walls, but now wish they were off-white again! With white walls one can go crazy with color in furniture, drapery, etc and it looks great (like Bridget’s place), but with my colored walls, I feel limited, trapped even!

  70. Rebecca V. says...

    Loved this house tour the most! It’s so nice to see a space that really looks lived in. Thank you!

    • E says...

      DITTO!

  71. Kate says...

    Lovely! This makes my occasional-maximalist self happy! I’m also in a small SF apartment – a studio and desperately need to pare down my kitchen gadgets. I’m going to try using her food-in-name test for determining if I need something!

  72. RB says...

    I also live in San Francisco in a one bedroom tiny house (<600 ft!) with an almost 7 year old named Mabel…and a three year old! Living in a space this small with 4 ppl takes a lot of creativity and patience!

  73. Julie says...

    You can see the love between them! How beautiful. I think it must be so comforting for Mabel to have everyone so close by. ❤️

  74. Emily says...

    “I’m an introvert, but my introversion makes an exception for my husband and daughter.” I love that, and feel the same way about my husband and daughters.

  75. Lindsay says...

    Love seeing how families live in different spaces :) I’ve always lived in the suburbs in a house, so it’s kind of fascinating to see people live in small spaces in urban areas.

  76. Annette says...

    Love this house tour & this family. I feel like I want to go hang out with them. Thanks for sharing and got some great ideas for living in a small space!

  77. SN says...

    In fairness, avocado slicers are the ONE single use item we have in our kitchen…. my husband almost sliced off his finger trying to get out that pit. At the rate we eat avocados, it earns its keep :-)

    • Rebecca says...

      After requiring some avocado related stitches myself, I’m with you on this!

    • Alissa Moghtaderi says...

      I am married to a hand surgeon and he can spot avocado-related hand injuries from the moment a patient walks in the door! It is *incredibly* common and all the more so since avocado toast became so popular. We eat a lot of avocados and we don’t have an avocado slicer, but we have a very specific method for pit removal with a sharp knife and a firm thwak.

    • Carly N. says...

      I use a grapefruit spoon to get the pit out. Works very well and no stitches!

  78. Carrie says...

    I’m looking through this one thinking on what earth is this minimalism, and then I realized I *may* have misread the title :)

    Love what they’ve done. I feel like if the house had a choice in the matter, this is how it would have decorated itself.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I feel like if the house had a choice in the matter, this is how it would have decorated itself.” = haha agreed :)

  79. Kelly says...

    I love the idea of using vintage suitcases to store memories, letters, etc. I have an old shoebox in the back of my closet for notes, cards, photos that I want to save, but this would be such a nicer way to display it, without actually displaying it. :)

  80. Christine Schwalm Design says...

    Alton Brown on Food Network always says, “there is only one unitasker in the kitchen” while he holds up the fire extinguisher.

    My first thought was how small it seemed for 3 people; but then I realized that everyone has their priorities. For this family, it’s the neighborhood. It’s so important to live the way that makes *you* happy and not the way you’re expected to live.

    • Maria says...

      In Central Europe, a 600 sq feet apartment (equaling about 55 sq metres) is considered a fair living space for a three-person family! I know many families with more than one kid (and pets!) living in such conditions. But the arrangement is usually reversed: its the parents who sleep in the living room (usually on a pull out), and the kids have a room of their own. It’s a common concept that the kids need their personal space to study and develop, and that parents have to ‘suffer’ for the kids’ sake. As you might think, sleeping in a common room on a pull out strains many marriages!

    • Nikki says...

      When I was small, my family of six (yep, SIX) shared a teeny tiny two-bedroom, 600-square-foot apartment! Needless to say, we were all very close… in just about every way!

  81. LOVE! We are maximalists as well, and I feel like I’ve gotten so many good ideas after seeing Bridget and her family’s space!

  82. Annie says...

    I’m trying to figure out how Mabel gets into her sleeping nook! Is there a secret doorway?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes! there’s a separate doorway that used to lead into the living room.

    • Kim says...

      I should have read the comments!

  83. Sandra Langeneckert says...

    I love their space! It is so cheery, cozy, and inviting. I lived for years in small urban apartments. One thing I wish I’d realized….you usually CAN paint the walls as long as you are willing to paint it back to white when you move out. We did this with our last place and I was so much happier with color on the walls…and the landlords liked it so much they let us leave it when we moved. (We did check with the landlord prior to painting just to be on the safe side.)

    • Deborah says...

      Yes exactly! We just moved into a house with atrocious paint colors (think peach and purple on the same wall) and the owners didn’t want us to paint. Well, guess what. We painted. And if they have issue with it later, we’ll paint it back! Worth it to us to make that investment.

    • Elizabeth says...

      But my goodness, at this point they would have to move all the books in order to get to the walls. I think maybe accept the fact that the books and artwork served the purpose of colorful walls. They’re 3-D wallpaper!
      Just a fantastic post, cup of jo. This apartment tour is one of my favorites (and I am not a maximalist). So nice to see people living true to themselves and their living space extends that ethic.

  84. Eloise says...

    What a great space!!!!! And, any idea where Bridget’s dress came from?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’ll ask her!

    • Deborah says...

      I recognize it from Zuri – they have great dresses. If you love colorful patterns, you’ll love ’em. Have one myself. https://www.shopzuri.com/

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, these dresses are beautiful!

    • Leah says...

      My close friend Ashleigh started this company in Kenya! They are amazing dresses and people! xoxo

    • Julie says...

      So glad someone asked this. These dresses are amazing!

    • Eloise says...

      Thanks!! I was just *introduced* to Zuri, via “I Want to be Her,” last week. Seeing one of their dresses in a “real life” context (even if not in real life) makes me want one of their dresses even more!

    • AC says...

      https://www.shopzuri.com/ !!
      Wonderful dresses. I have one and use it as a tunic or a light jacket as well. AND you can finagle it into a skirt.

    • Christine says...

      I second (third?) the endorsement of Zuri dresses! Flattering, modest, well-made, washable, no need to iron, plus come in a range of prints from exuberant to restrained.

  85. This apartment tour is one of the few that looks really well-loved and actually lived in! I love the vintage furniture and all the books!

  86. t says...

    I am so grateful there are people in the world like Bridget and her family to add color and levity and joy and to balance out people like me (a bit serious and stodgy and in need of space and little stuff). What a good way to start tuesday. Thanks all!

  87. Cymbidy says...

    Amazing space! I love seeing unconventional apartments and smaller spaces on here. Also: great rule about no “single-use utensils” — we could use some culling of those in our own kitchen (avocado slicer anyone?).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      banana saver? :)

    • Cymbidy says...

      OMG we have a banana saver too! We need help.

  88. Laura says...

    Good on Mabel for reading Harry Potter! They’re like comfort food for me. I’m listening to the audiobooks right now while doing other tasks since I don’t *have* to fully pay attention since I already know what’s happening. I love it!