Bella's DIY & Vintage on a Budget

House Call

Name: Bella
Location: Prospect Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts

I fell in love with this apartment as soon as I saw it a little over three years ago. It's located high on a hill that is steeped in history. The first Union flag was flown here on January 1, 1776 by order of General George Washington. In 1902 a castle-like monument was erected to commemorate the site. The views of the city are fantastic and it's a great place to watch the annual Fourth of July fireworks.

The apartment has just about every element I could have asked for: an eat-in kitchen, hardwood floors, high ceilings, French doors, pocket doors, a tiled fireplace with lovely mirrored mantel (unfortunately no longer a working one) and a separate dining room! The eat-in kitchen is especially fun due to the 1950s "update" of turquoise tile on the walls. Turquoise just happens to be my favorite color — how lucky was I to have stumbled upon this place! The sink and overhead cabinets are a vintage "Republic Steel" unit. I am thrilled that the kitchen does not have a lot of cabinets. I have an old, painted sideboard sitting under the windows and there are built-in shelves that hold my collections of vintage bowls.

The bathroom is quite small, but the wall paper is very fanciful, featuring a repeat pattern of peacocks and a lovely nude lady. The paper appears to have been chosen to match the pink and blue ceramic tile! Not quite as subtle as I would have liked, but it has proven to be a topic of conversation amongst my guests!

I've decorated the entire apartment using furnishings that have been purchased at thrift shops and yard sales for the most part. A few things were given to me by family and others I found in the trash. It's still rewarding (and even a bit thrilling!) for me to walk around the apartment noting the items that were once someone else's trash, that I'd gotten for free or next to nothing.

I try to buy as much vintage as possible, and again, only when the price is right. I am creative and make some things (the vintage sheet music kirigami dove, embroidery hoop and twig light fixture that hangs in my hallway, for example and the "bar" I made from an old dresser top which sits on a cast iron sewing machine base). I embellish others — I'm very fond of vintage ball fringe! — and paint and distress furniture. I painted a Goodwill brass chandelier in different shades of blue-greens, added some crystal prisms and mini lamp shades. My favorite places to shop include yard sales, small thrift and vintage shops, The Goodwill Store and The Salvation Army. I do spend a bit of money at Anthropologie, which is my favorite "real" store, particularly on furniture hardware. My curtains come from Target and a got a simple white-upholstered chair from IKEA.

I'm extremely proud of the fact that I have spent relatively little money on decor and have a unique apartment that has garnered much admiration. It's a work in progress, however. I still need some dining chairs and would like to add some small area rugs for warmth.

Thanks, Bella!

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