A Small Rental Condo’s Dark Kitchen Hides Smart Solutions

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Name: Nayana Anil and foster cats who come and go
Location: Emeryville, California
Type of home: Condo
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I moved to the Bay for work, after getting my Masters degree. My main motivation to look in this building was to have as short of a work commute as possible, so I’m pretty lucky to have found this great unit. I knew as soon as I walked in that this was perfect and I wanted to live here—a beautiful clean canvas, gorgeous ocean views, and the sound of the waves floating in through the patio! Living on my own for the first time, I’ve grown to understand my personal sense of style. A lot of my decor are trinkets picked up from travels or events in my life that have sentimental value. The juxtaposition of the pops of color from the curios over a calming neutral palette gives the space a sense of whimsy and nostalgia.

Some design decisions were both functional and aesthetic. As a baker, working with a teeny tiny kitchen with practically no counter space did a real number on my mise en place. Using a console table as auxiliary counter space saved the day. I do most of my work there, and it offers extra storage space! Having only two north-facing windows means the apartment doesn’t get a lot of light, especially in the kitchen. To make the space seem more airy, I covered the existing dark counters with removable white marble contact paper and the brown backsplash with white subway tiles.

I’ve lived here for two and half years now and most of that time has been shared with foster kitties. The cats live with me while they decompress from their shelter stay and get some much needed TLC, until they’re adopted. Although it’s pretty hard when they leave, it’s so rewarding to me to know I’m making a difference in their lives as they morph from shy and wide-eyed into playful little fur babies! And I’m an ardent DIYer and never miss up an opportunity to create pieces by hand. A lot of the art on the walls is my own, as are the macrame.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Clean California-cool cozy boho.

What is your favorite room and why? The living room. I spend most of my time here, whether I’m working from home or snuggling with a cat—usually at the same time these days. The open floor plan ties the living room, study, kitchen, and patio into a single cohesive space, so I have a great view of the marina from every corner! The patio door is open all day, so there’s always a gentle sea breeze coming through. The regular visiting ducks and the occasional hummingbird makes it double as a cat-io!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought was a beautiful labradorite crystal. I like to have crystals placed around the house in strategic places. The subtle glimmer when the light bounces off them gives me a spark in my step! The last thing I found were some wooden block stamps in my parents’s house in India. I “borrowed” a few of them the last time I visited LOL. I’ve found some great knick-knacks in my visits to India that meld so well into the aesthetic, while also keeping me true to my heritage.

Any advice for creating a home you love? It’s absolutely true that surrounding yourself with things you love creates a beautiful home. And it’s also true that it takes time to acquire them! So don’t try to rush the process. Go with your instinct, it’s never wrong.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

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