Location: Bellingham, Washington
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 12 years
"Maybe I'll move in next door to you," I kidded when I found out the tenant in the space next to my sister Kendall's light-filled, one-bedroom apartment would be moving out in the fall. She laughed,"Oh, there's a waiting list." People have been lining up for years to get into this small complex. But anyone coveting her unit best not hold their breath—she's been here for more than a decade with no plans to move. Smack dab in the middle of Fairhaven—a sweet "old-town" area—she is steps from cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants; a short walk to the town's waterfront; and positioned perfectly to hop on a bike trail within sixty seconds of securing her helmet.
Though a very livable size, Kendall actually was starting to feel a little cramped in the space a couple years ago, and debated moving. But, that location! It's just too good, so she launched into a total redecorating project instead. "I got rid of everything," she said. "I had a bed frame that took up way too much room, a completely worn out couch, a dining table that crowded my living room…I decided if I was going to stay, I wanted to make it a place that would work for me for several more years."
And that meant being more particular and purposeful choosing pieces than perhaps she had been in the past. The biggest challenge in the apartment for Kendall has always been storage. There is virtually none, so that played a huge part in the items she chose. "Anything I bought needed to be something I could put stuff under, in, or behind."
To that end, framed art and mirrors that sit on the floor and lean against walls hide a vacuum cleaner and electrical cords, a glass shelving until displays accessories and keepsakes that add personality, while a dresser that doubles as a TV stand stores extra blankets, DVDs, and assorted not-ready-for-prime- time type stuff. After nine months of patient shopping, Kendall created a home perfectly in scale with her space.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: A combination of vintage and modern. I like it to look clean, with either pops of color or interesting shapes and textures—like my side tables, for instance—I love all the angles and the mirrored surface.
Inspiration: When I started redoing my apartment, I wanted to choose things that I would have for a long time, so that was definitely driving my decisions. I really waited until I found items I loved.
Favorite Element: The Aztec Southwestern-style mirror in my hallway. I also really love the bull painting by Teil Duncan—that and another print I bought of hers were the first pieces of art I hung in my apartment as I redecorated. One day, I'd love to be able to buy one of her originals!
Biggest Challenge: Storage. I literally have one closet. One! I have a cabinet in the kitchen that I reserve for Christmas decorations, I put all of my shoes—the pretty ones, at least!—on built in-shelves in my hallway, and was determined to track down a dresser to use as my TV stand to give me a little more room for random stuff.
What Friends Say: My friend Holly (who lives with her boyfriend) says that if she could have an apartment all to herself, she would want it to look exactly like mine. Actually, when friends see my place, they ask me to help them decorate theirs—which I have since started doing. Friends are always surprised by how little money I spend on a lot of the things I buy. I'm always on the hunt for great deals, and can usually find them."
Biggest Embarrassment: I really don't like the cabinets and counters in my kitchen—it's a rental, so I just can't change anything. It's just not what I would choose.
Proudest DIY: The dresser I use as a TV stand in my living room. I found it for $135 at a local shop that sells salvaged and vintage items. It was a great size, and I loved the little gold keyholes in each drawer. It was originally brown, so, I stripped and sanded it, then painted it a deep, dark blue. I also replaced the knobs with ones I found at Anthropolgie for a more modern look. It was my first time doing anything like that, so I'd probably do a better job now, but I sort of like that there are some things that are a little "off" about it—adds character!
Biggest Indulgence: The couch. It's the most expensive piece in the apartment and took several weeks to have delivered, but it was so worth it. I love the tall back on it—I like to feel like I'm really sitting in something and that lounger is amazing. It is absolutely the best thing ever to be able to put your feet up and sink in after a long day.
Best Advice: Don't compromise on what you need and want, be diligent in your search, and wait for pieces that you love. Also, tell people what you're looking for! I'd been searching for a headboard for a while, but all the ones I came across were crazy expensive, and I was looking for a very particular style. So I told my friend Lindsay, who also has a great eye for decor, to be on the lookout. One month later, I got a call from her: "I found it—there's one left and the store closes in 15 minutes, so get down here!" She was right, it was perfect, not to mention twenty percent off the sale price.
Dream Sources: I use Pinterest a lot and pin a lot. I even created a '"lake house" board—one day, a lake house will be mine. I also follow a handful of brands on Instagram: One King's Lane, West Elm, Spruce (a local paper shop in Bellingham—I just really like their aesthetic), Safavieh, Veranda Magazine."
- Mirror: Pier 1
- Vintage sewing machine
- Glass shelving unit: West Elm
- Couch: West Elm
- Cream shag area rug: Home Depot
- Mirrored side tables: West Elm
- Coffee table: West Elm
- Pillows: Marshall's
- Blue side chair: West Elm
- Turquoise fan:
- Floor lamp: West Elm
- Small, gold side table lamp: West Elm
- Peach candle holder: Glassy Baby
- Hound's tooth throw: Target
- Sweatered cream throw: Target
- Painting above couch: Pier 1
- Black chest of drawers: refurbished
- White, textured side table: Marshall's
- Peach, translucent vase: Anthropology
- Gold algae picture: Target
- Square wood wall hanging (set of four): Target
- Wood floor boxes: Target
- Mirror with gold overlay detail: Pier 1
- Square mirror: vintage
- Bull painting: Teil Duncan
- Beach scene painting: Teil Duncan
- Table: West Elm
- Chairs: West Elm
- Salt and pepper shakers: West Elm
- Gold vase: Marshall's
- Headboard: Tuesday Morning
- Dresser: IKEA
- Bedspread: Pottery Barn
- Painting: Minted
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