Inspiring Spaces: Robyn Hewitt’s Gypsy Chic Turlock Apartment
by Dana Koster
Robyn Hewitt’s apartment is bigger than a gypsy caravan, but not by much. At less than 500 square feet and just two rooms—the space is divided into an upstairs and a downstairs, with no distinct rooms beyond that—Hewitt admits she sometimes has to get creative when it comes to storage. What the apartment lacks in space, though, it makes up for in style. The building itself, which Hewitt found listed on Craigslist two years ago, features rich redwood ceiling beams, a grand, wrought-iron spiral staircase and an upstairs bathed in natural light. Though the owner says it was converted from a two-story garage, Hewitt suspects her apartment may have had a previous life as a water tower.
The first floor is Hewitt’s living room/office, and hardly anything in the room is purely decorative—in a small space, Hewitt says, everything has to have a function. To keep her musical instruments out of the way, for example, she hangs them on the wall, where they’re both easily accessible and visually interesting. An antique trunk doubles as an end table, cleverly providing storage both inside and on top, and the whole room is ringed in twinkle lights and colorful crepe paper banners to give a punch of color without crowding the floor with furniture or painting the walls.
The only space that’s purely decorative is the staircase, which Hewitt calls her “gallery.” With dozens of carefully-arranged framed photographs, crewelwork art, shadowboxes and paintings (most of which she scavenged from thrift stores or inherited) flanking the stairs on three separate walls, walking to the second floor becomes a visual indulgence.
Upstairs is her kitchen/bedroom, separated only by a dresser that Hewitt painted white on one side to create the illusion of room divider. There are windows on all four of the outside walls, and Hewitt’s penchant for vintage, gauzy floral curtains, handmade afghans and retro furniture really do make you feel like you’ve been transported out of the Central Valley—either into a bohemian caravan parked in a deserted meadow, or to the top floor of a Victorian apartment in 1960’s San Francisco. Either way, the effect is enchanting.
Inspiration Q & A with Robyn Hewitt
How would you describe your style?
I like to think I have kind of a vintage style that’s more “gypsy,” but it’s probably actually somewhere between “gypsy” and “Grandma.” I really like florals, which is apparent to anyone who interacts with me, either in my house or with my wardrobe.
What are you inspired by?
Vintage textiles are really inspirational to me—I have a collection of handmade vintage afghans and blankets. I kind of like things that are not perfect. I’d rather have something be interesting than perfect.
What do you really love about your home?
I love the staircase. I mean, how many places in Turlock have a spiral staircase? And there are windows in every wall upstairs, so I can sleep with them open in the summer and it’s like sleeping outside.
What was your biggest challenge?
The bedroom and the kitchen are the same room. Realistically, I can’t do things like cook bacon because my entire bedroom will smell like bacon.
What’s your best advice for people living in small spaces?
Get rid of everything that you do not love before you move in. Sell it, burn it, whatever it takes—you will not magically find more space to store things just to have them. You would be surprised how much larger a space feels when you have less in it.