Stylish living in 700 square feet

A design-savvy couple figures out how to live (happily!) in a tiny San Diego bungalow

Small living design tips

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Small-home ideas: Flexible furniture, clutter control, and creative living spaces

You might expect a couple moving into a 700-square-foot home to worry about the limitations of having just one tiny closet, a bedroom barely bigger than a bed, and a single bathroom sink.

But the prospect of tight living quarters didn’t keep Lauren and Eric Wendlandt from buying this 1911 bungalow in San Diego. Nor did the never-updated kitchen and bathroom, which both needed major work; Lauren, an architect, and Eric, a designer, were game.

“It was like a bride and a wedding dress,” Lauren says. “We knew we wanted it.”

Small dining room design

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Flexible furnishings

When the square feet aren’t adjustable, make sure your furniture and fixtures are.

This dining room table can extend (into the living room) to seat 10 people. The pendant light can be lowered for meals.

Small living room

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Choose multi-functional furniture

Choosing pieces that can serve multiple functions is a must.

In the living room, the window seat stores extra blankets, and the subwoofer (at the far end of the couch) doubles as a side table.

DIY cabinet

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Go vertical for storage

If the kitchen lacks a proper pantry, get creative. The Wendlandts converted an ironing-board nook into a liquor cabinet, and mounted a wall rack to store their wine. 

small kitchen storage solutions

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Kitchen storage solution

If you're tight on pantry space, try using online grocery store shopping and delivery services―you won’t overbuy as much if you can check what’s in your kitchen while you’re at your home computer.

Small work space storage

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Control clutter

Keep open storage easy on the eye: Having only one little closet meant that shoes needed to go on shelves in the office. Lauren fashioned identifying labels for the uniform boxes using paper bags and a little Photoshop magic.

Don’t let paper pile up: Sign up for paperless and online billing, and block as much junk mail as possible (go to or Also, scan your receipts and shred the originals.

Bedroom storage solutions

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Maintain organization and tidiness

If it doesn’t fit, you don’t need it: When the dresser drawer doesn’t close, it’s time to get rid of some clothing. When a file drawer is at maximum capacity, it’s time to shred. “With our open shoe storage,” Lauren says, “if you want a new pair, you have to get rid of one.”

Make your bed: The room will instantly look less cluttered.

Outdoor living space

Photo by Daniel Hennessy

Live outside

The couple saw big potential for the neglected backyard (three times the size of the house), adding a deck, sandy “beach,” and sunken firepit. “From April to October, we never ate inside,” Eric says. 

Compact dining room seating

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Compact chairs

Pick armless chairs for a minimal footprint. Wrap Dining Chair, shown in white, $79;  or 888/922-4119.

pretty storage boxes

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Dress-up storage boxes

Fabric boxes can be as fashionable as they are useful. Bristol Storage Box, $59;  or 800/733-3532.

Modern plates

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Presentable plates

Keep on-display dishware in a neutral palette. Modern Dinnerware, from $3;  or 800/606-6252.

wall wine rack

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Vertical wine rack

Conserve pantry and counter space. Wine Tube, $115;  or 503/889-8545.

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