Decorate with your favorite things

Get some secrets to adding color and charm to even the smallest of spaces
Jessica Battilana

The tiny footprint of Cynthia Warren's Oakland bungalow, a modest 926 square feet, doesn't bother her one bit. "I didn't want a bigger space," she says. "This house feels cozy, and it had everything on my list ― wood floors, a fireplace, and a gas stove."

For Warren, a graphic designer whose work ranges from elaborate party invitations to special-event menus for restaurants like Chez Panisse in Berkeley, making beautiful things by hand holds endless appeal.

Each corner of her house displays evidence of her talent for creating an ambience both fanciful and romantic.

The intimate dining nook (with benches and a table of salvaged Douglas fir built by Warren's boyfriend, Marc Duncan) pays homage to Frida Kahlo, replete with photos of the Mexican artist, pressed-tin ceilings, and eye-popping hot pink paint. "This was the beginning of real color in the house," Warren says ― a trend she continued from room to room.

Simple collections, thoughtfully displayed, become art installations and focal points throughout the home. Industrial items are juxtaposed with the unabashedly feminine, travel souvenirs are grouped together for the feel of a far-flung bazaar, and even rusty old tools become a stylized collage.

As Warren says, "Arranging objects is my way of making something beautiful just for myself."

Steal 7 of Cynthia's ideas

Design:  Cynthia Warren Design