Name: Kim, her boyfriend, and Kojo Nnamdi the boston terrier
Location: Mount Pleasant, DC
Size: about 575 square feet
Years lived in: rented, 7 months
When I first spotted Kim’s cozy apartment on flickr, I thought, ‘wow, this is Apartment Therapy!’ — the old Apartment Therapy that I fell for long before dreaming of ever actually writing for the site. Kim’s home is bursting with personal, thoughtful, creative touches. Not all of them are loud “look at me!” features, but all of them have a reason for being there whether it be for function or aesthetics, and— as evidenced by the decorative file cabinet, personalized switch plates, and vintage bottle caddy turned shoe rack —most are both.
Her apartment sits in bustling, eclectic Mount Pleasant, where mariachi music and loud basses mix with the smells of Heller’s bakery, gasoline, and the occasional waft of hipster cologne. However once you enter Kim’s apartment you forget what you left outside. Walls of windows and subtle, refreshing paint colors make the small apartment seem airy, peaceful, and removed. And the aromas of Kim’s culinary creations, such as the blueberry and lemon tart that she let me enjoy, certainly don’t upset the idyllic scene.
In addition to all the creative touches that Kim added to her rental, from the book page collage that she uses to mask peeling wood laminate in the kitchen to the sweet tray that she crafted for the coffee table, I was also struck by Kim’s ability to maintain that tricky balance between comfortably organic and impeccably neat. In part, it’s because Kim has managed to create a place for everything , even the mammoth rolling pin that she’s mounted neatly above her pots and pans with a pair of curtain tie backs, and the cheerful indoor garden that she’s helped to look quite at home in an awkwardly sharp-angled corner of the living room. Without looking the least bit cluttered or contrived, Kim has turned her rental into a highly personalized home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Style: Handmade, secondhand, colorful, clean lines
Inspiration: My two favorite places to be in and around are the post and beam house I grew up in (and which my parents built) in rural PA and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. They look very different, but they both make me feel peaceful and creative.
Favorite Element: The natural light and open kitchen
Biggest Challenge: The crazy angle of the front wall; we had to figure out how to fit everything into the room and not make the far corner too awkward. A lot of the credit goes to my boyfriend.
What Friends Say: Most people first comment on the light.
Biggest Embarrassment: I love to cook and bake, but we have really dingy pots and pans. (Also, since these photos were taken I’ve sold the ugly AC unit in the living room.)
Proudest DIY: Making a "deck" out back, which required that I get over my absolute terror of wielding the circular saw I rented from the hardware store downstairs.
Biggest Indulgence: The most expensive thing I've bought in here is the TV cabinet. I won it on eBay and then, uh, realized shipping it from Florida would cost half as much as I had paid for it. Oh well, I love it.
Best advice: "Spend the time, not the money” (except when it’s art or something you love, like cool cabinets from Florida).
Also, if you live in DC or Maryland, consider switching from Pepco’s standard (coal-centric) plan to one that offsets emissions with Renewable Energy Credits from wind farms. The people at Clean Currents are helpful, and it’s easy to switch. The kwh rates are generally cheaper than Pepco’s, too.
Dream source: Williams-Sonoma, Marimekko stores, and any well-stocked antique/thrift shop or local market. Last, I would love to go all “Supermarket Sweep” on the M Street Anthropologie. My boyfriend wants a Togo couch.
Hardware: Only a few original fixtures remain, and I stripped the paint off them and polished them with Brasso. Otherwise, what I added is from Anthropologie and Umbra. I covered some light switches with paper and drew on two with Sharpie.
Furniture: Craigslist (Crate and Barrel’s Martine couch, CB2 Trig console desk, chairs, stools, slatted table, filing cabinet, pair of dressers) Weil Antique Center (Mersman coffee table), Trolley House Emporium (plant table, dining table), Ebay (TV cabinet), Ikea (RAST bedside tables)
Accessories: I love knickknacks. Some are from the house I grew up in, but most of them are from thrift shops or my/friends’ travels. My favorites are the wool animals from Mexico, the mini yurt from Uzbekistan, and the yo-yo from a prisoner craft fair in Louisiana.
Lighting: Craigslist/Pottery Barn (couch lamp), Ebay (pink desk lamp), Target (bedside lamps), my dad (dresser lamp)
Rugs and Carpets: West Elm (Pebble Rug – feels great on feet but doesn’t wear well), Ebay (geometric rug)
Window Treatments: “Nantucket Bamboo Roman Shades” from Overstock.com
Bed: I made the headboard using insulation and upholstery foams, sweatshirt material, and some Nani Iro fabric. The bedskirt is an unused curtain that I pinned around under the mattress. Style&Co cotton sheets (often on sale and so soft); Ikea blanket; pillows from Guatemala, Uzbekistan, Miss Pixie’s, and Target.
Artwork: Having art on the walls is really important to me. I have been on Etsy since 2006, now buying instead of selling. I have prints from Lena Wolff, Lab Partners, Slide Sideways, Inaluxe, Esther Ramirez, Betsy Walton, Blanca Gomez, Kate Pugsley, and Becca Stadtlander. In the living room, the other art includes my boyfriend’s Smiths poster and secondhand prints, my grandpa’s stamps, a photo by a friend, a movie poster from Japan, and a papercut by a New Orleans street artist. The calendar is by Cats Let Nothing Darken Their Roar. Art in the hallway and bathroom includes a Lena Corwin print, an Irish sugar packet, and a little painting I did. In the bedroom are a Rob Ryan card, a Makelike poster, and a photo by Fernanda Montoro.
Paint: Valspar “Gray Gull” in living room, Valspar “Silver Screen” in bathroom, and True Value “Wedding Feast” on the bedside tables and the top part of my closet.
Images: Leah Moss
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