Today’s Sneak Preview takes a look at the 300 square foot studio space of Mary Lee. Yeah, I did a double take when reading the square footage too. 300 square feet? Really? Can anyone really live in that?

If you’re Mary Lee you not only can, but you find there’s even enough extra space to paint in. This efficient space is part art studio, part inspiration gallery, part home office, part cozy kitchen, part living space and all Mary Lee – in 300 square feet.

When searching for a home, most people look for something bigger, something newer, something with room to grow into. Mary Lee however, is not your typical gal. She was looking for a challenge – an opportunity to take a place and make it completely her own. No compromises. No frilly toothpicks.

Ever since watching a scene from An American in Paris, she’s dreamed of having a small, ingeniously configurable space – a place where everything was so well thought out that it had everything you needed precisely when you needed it.

In fact, it was this very scene right here…

Mary Lee doesn’t recall how old she was when she saw that scene, or when she first realized that she didn’t share the same style sense as most girls. But sometime in her early youth she found herself gravitating towards dark hues and navy stripes when it came to clothes and decor – while her peers preferred bright pinks and purples. Isn’t it fascinating to realize that we often begin to connect with our own unique identity at such an early stage in life?

Fast forward to last year and you may very well have stumbled into Mary Lee – as she scoured Austin for any space that had potential to be the remodel she was itching for. It was then, in an accidental and unexpected spot somewhere in central Austin where she encountered this tiny studio space – cramped, dilapidated, yet the perfect testing ground for all her ideas and visions.

When she moved in she went right to work – drawing sketches, putting together mood boards, hiring contracters, and scooting demolition debris from one corner to the next.

Mary Lee is an artist (someone this creative just has to be right?), and as I snapped photos of her condo she would often just drop these beautiful, concise quotes.

She would say things like…

“Living small forces you to organize and simplify your life, it makes you find out what you really need.”


“I don’t try to buy things that match. I find that if you simply buy things you love, it has a way of going together all by itself,” as she straightened the edge of one of the pillows she made.

I wish I had a recorder on me the whole time.

Her artwork is bold, and uses colors you find in harmony throughout her space. You can find prints like these on her site Mary Central Studio


I just know you’re going to love all the tricks and ideas Mary Lee applied to turn a restrictive space into something open and free. Look for it next week on Apartment Therapy, and until then see more of the radiant Mary Lee – glowing and in her element at home.



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