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Touring a 272-Square-Foot, Cleverly DIYed Apartment in Palms

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Welcome to a special Micro Week edition of House Calls, a new feature in which Curbed tours the lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes of regular Angelenos. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line with a few photos and details about your place.

Photos by Wonho Frank Lee

Who lives here?
Natasia, (26) Filmmaker, Arts Administrator and Fashion Assistant

What're the stats?
272 sq. ft which includes the main living space, a bathroom, and a small hallway with a closet. Not included in the footage is the small outdoor seating area.

What's the rent?
$728/ month

How long have you been here?
Since 2010

How'd you end up here?
I was in college living in an off-campus apartment with three roommates and decided to find a place of my own.

Was it hard moving into such a small space? Did you have to do anything to cut back or accommodate less?
I was in school living in a dorm-like situation, so I didn't have much. I moved in with only my clothes, books and an air mattress. I thought I was going to be moving to a larger, nicer apartment after I graduated, so I didn't do much in terms of decorating. When I finally did leave school, I realized that due to the state of the economy it was better for me to stay here for the long-term. I decided to make the apartment more comfortable, homely and reflective of my personal style.

Since I was underemployed at the time, I had to stretch the money I had. I got most of my big furniture pieces from Ikea and Craigslist, and dismantled free curbside furniture to build shelves, the rolling coffee table, and the couch bed (Yes, I built my couch bed myself). I also saved money by re-purposing old containers and boxes for storage, made most of the artwork myself, and used leftover props from friend's film sets as decor.

What's the best feature of your place?
The bathroom. It is a good size for such a small living space. I also love how responsive the apartment super is. Whenever there is a problem, he usually comes by to fix it right away, sometimes even on the same day.

What's the worst feature?
There is no kitchen. I had to "build" my own, so to speak. Luckily I don't cook much. I also don't get much natural light as I live in the back of the building on the bottom floor.

What are the upsides and downsides of having such a small place?
The biggest upside and downside is cleaning. On one hand, the space is so small that cleaning takes no time at all. On the other hand, I have to constantly be mindful of clutter or else it will overwhelm the place. I throw out/donate things constantly. It's especially hard since I work in the Film, Art and Fashion industries and get a lot of really cool stuff for free. It's tough trying to decide what to keep and what to throw out!

What's your approach to decorating?
When you basically live in one room, all you have are four walls. I dedicated each wall to be a certain space one would typically find in a house. One wall is my office, another my bedroom/living room, another my Kitchen/Entertainment center, and another my entryway.

This actually makes the apartment feel less cluttered since it forces me to keep certain things in specific areas and not randomly scattered. Before I had my microwave next to my bed, my computer next to the refrigerator, etc. and it just looked and felt chaotic.

I also try to use the entire wall up to the ceiling. When your eyes are drawn upwards, it makes a small space seem even larger.

Any crazy/interesting stories about your place or living here?
Apparently a woman was murdered by her jealous boyfriend in this building a few decades ago. He shot her in front of her children and barricaded himself in the apartment. The LAPD had to evacuate all the units surrounding the one he was in. I was told a particularly large woman lived in my apartment and the police had a difficult time extracting her through the window. I haven't found any written evidence to validate the story, but its crazy interesting nonetheless.

How's your landlord?
My landlords are brother and sister and they are really awesome. The neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and they have been very reasonable and accommodating when raising the rent on my unit.

If you could have any living situation in LA, what would it be?
A larger space by the beach with room to entertain would be wonderful.

· House Calls [Curbed LA]
· Micro Week 2015 [Curbed LA]