Location: Burns Park— Ann Arbor, Michigan
All of the furniture in my apartment is second-hand, except for four pieces (two wooden folding chairs on the porch, the taller wooden chest in the living room, and an Ikea floor lamp). I am proud of the fun, spunky, green living space I created, but it wouldn't have ended up nearly as cool if I hadn't felt inspired by your website along the way.
By renting and decorating this apartment I have really learned about going slow, being creative, and saving money. Nearly everything I purchased was second-hand, except for the furniture I mentioned above, the curtains, the striped rugs from Ikea, and my bathroom linens. I strongly believe that buying used is greener (though the spray painting may hurt my argument), plus you can get items of better quality for less money that create a space that is full of charm and personality.
I signed the lease on this apartment, a couple miles from the University of Michigan campus, after the previous signers had backed out. I was actually able to rent the apartment for $400 less each month than the going rate and I got the two bedroom apartment all to myself! The owners were excited to have a non-student renting, plus I was flexible about move in dates. They refinished the wood floors for me and I chose my own paint colors (even though the apartment had already been repainted white).
Once I moved in I did my best to let the space slowly evolve. I didn't have any furniture when I moved in because I had previously rented furnished apartments. While convenient for moving around, I had felt rather limited in my self-expression. With my own apartment to decorate, I literally consulted the apartment therapy website every day for ideas, and scoured the local thrift shops and Craigslist. I give swim lessons, so there is a bit of an aquatic theme running throughout the space.
Your website has been such an inspiration to me throughout the decorating process. I saved a ton of money, and learned about furniture refinishing, recovering, painting, and repurposing. My lease ends in the middle of August and I'm torn between selling everything and starting over, or keeping all my treasures!
My favorite finds:
• Two dressers and two bedside tables I found on Craigslist for $150 and bargained down to $100
• The $40 dining room table I refinished in ebony
• My $8 glass hexagonal table in the living room
• The Steelcase cabinets I bought from a publishing company for $25 each. I painted them off white, then put them on wheels so that they are easy to move around.
• The black 1960s modern mid-century sleeper sofa I found on Craigslist for $150. I already had a bulkier couch that had never quite felt right. Replacing it seemed indulgent, but I went ahead and replaced it with my current black set. It was a good decision because every time I looked at that bulky couch I thought about how it was a bad choice!