Name: Zach and Sarah Trover (with dogs Wilbur and Lola)
Location: Kansas City, Mo
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 11 months and 7 days
11 months ago, my husband and I were living in an old burlap loft in the industrial part of Kansas City. We loved life (and our loft) and spent our days making custom wooden walls and hanging a ridiculous amount of curtains. Life was grand until disaster struck and we needed a new place to live in less than a week. As chance would have it, we moved into a basement loft where an Apartment Therapy reader had recently lived and things were painted up and spic and span, meaning all we had to do was move in! What a sigh of relief — or so we thought.
When we first walked through this loft space upon move in, it felt bright and cozy and a little like a hotel in the sense that all we'd have to do is walk in and hang up our clothes to call it home. The idea of not having to spend hours painting or sinking money into another space (having recently invested quite a bit in our previous loft) was highly appealing and we were looking forward to simply putting our feet up and kicking back for a year. It was smaller than our last place (which came in around the 3,000 square foot mark) but was in the same neighborhood and most importantly — was available!
Our plan was to stay in the loft for a year while we worked on finding a place to buy and leave the days of renting behind. Although we're usually the type that have multiple diy projects going on at once, we decided we could knuckle under and just focus on work for the year and not worry about the headache and pricetag that comes with taking on multiple projects.
At first it was great, we had a weird amount of free time to enjoy the world around us without spending most of our time in paint clothes or covered in sawdust. After the first few months, we were itching to make the place our own and change things up. Determined not to spend a dime on the place and put all that we could in savings for the next year, we sucked it up and did what we could with what we have, which meant living with the things that bugged us and tolerating certain, oddities in the space.
For instance, the lighting in our livingroom is fabulous during the day, no harsh sun, though after 5pm, it's dark like a cave and some serious lighting needed to occur. Instead of spending the bucks on something new, we simply hung pendants that we already owned and dealt with the look. It's not glamorous, but we handled our dislikes by knowing the money saved was going to a good cause. The space came with the entertainment center built in, along with the tv in the bedroom, although they might not have been our first choice, they've worked out ok for our short stay. It's 11 months later and if we were going to stay in this space, we'd change just about everything (except the cedar on the bathroom ceiling — the smell post-shower is just intoxicating!) and although we thought we could live in a pre-designed space, we're glad to be going on to bigger and better architectural canvases. In fact... we've included a photo of our new home at the end of the tour, so stay tuned!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our style: Over the years we've lived in spaces that were strictly one label or the other (Mid-Century, Bohemian, exc). We've paired down our belongings and mixed our styles well enough that now we're a great mix of eclectic offerings with a modern twist (even if this home doesn't allow that to shine through... we've got one hell of a storage unit!).
Inspiration: We find inspiration from all walks of life. We might pick up ideas from music videos, magazines, internet travels or even clothing design. My husband and I have both been accumulating awesome photos of things that inspire us for years, we've just been waiting for a space large enough to put some of them to use!
Favorite Element: Concrete floors. Although they're cold in the winter, the smooth concrete floors allow us to have "things happen" and not have to have our flooring pay the price. From paint splatters to dog vomit, everything wipes clean and we never have to worry about stains or the maintenance of wood. If we got to pick a runner up it would be the garden-level windows. Hopping out them at 3am to take your dogs around the block is a snap, as is moving in/out!
Biggest Challenge: Not changing anything! Although the space was great, after a few months, you wish certain walls were painted a slightly different color or you could change a little of this or a little of that. We're sure it's a great space for someone who leads a busy life of work and night time social life, hopping around the KC scene, but for homebodies like us, not changing a thing.... let's just say it took a great deal of self control.
What Friends Say: Whoa, cool... where's all your stuff? And I could never have my laundry in my entryway, I don't know how you stay on top of it.
Biggest Embarrassment: The inability to change paint colors, add lighting or even change out the curtains. Wine and khaki... no thanks. But by keeping them, we saved a great deal of money (even if we did contemplate photoshopping in new window treatments to lessen the shame).
Proudest DIY: In this space our proudest moment was not-diying and rather finding a place for all of our stuff that we wanted to carry forward to the next space. Our headboard is made from the hanging walls from our last loft, the space under our bed holds layers and layers of oversized artwork that just doesn't fit and we still managed to get our spray paint rack inside and on display.
Biggest Indulgence: Cable TV. Although that sounds lame, we've always told ourselves it isn't needed because we're busy working on other projects. This time around, we ordered service and although we didn't spend our entire evenings watching it, we'll have to say it was nice to watch DVR-ed episodes of Mythbusters and How I Met Your Mother.
Best advice: Even if a space requires work, chose one that has a floorplan that best fits your needs. Even though the sky was falling (literally) in our last loft, we enjoyed the space 500% more because it didn't have any walls. My husband and I work a great deal from home and even if one person is cooking or watching tv while the other is bringing home the bacon — we're still in the same space if there aren't any walls to make us feel isolated and lonely. We'd also never... ever buy/rent a space that strictly has north facing windows. Although we had light, there wasn't enough it by the end of 11 months, we're ready for some sun!!
Dream source: Highway 127 Yard Sale. Although you probably expected us to list more high end dreamy sources, we'd much rather find someone else's junk and turn it into our treasure. The small joy of personalizing a piece is something you can't get from a catalog. Plus, the yard sale runs from Alabama to Michigan... hello awesomeness!
When we left our last loft space, we left a great deal of our resources behind. We had to ditch our stash of scrap lumber, shelving and racking had to go and many other large pieces, just couldn't stay. We furnished this space with everything we already owned with one exception — the living room rug which was found on Craigslist for $15. Stay tuned in the months to come when we dye it green!
Shopping from things we've collected over the years to fit into a space that's already been designed and decorated felt a bit odd, but we did our best to make it work. Our biggest challenge was finding places to stash all the things we wanted to keep, but just didn't have a home here. Every nook and cranny has something tucked away in it... just waiting to see the light of day once more.
Living Room: Our sofa (which I like better without pillows) came from a now closed Danish furniture store in Kansas City. We kept it in this space, even though it meant we couldn't have a dining room table because of the amazing deal we received on it. Plus, the foam is sturdy enough, it's the equivalent of 3 twin bed and is great for company!
Kitchen: The entire kitchen came from IKEA and it's made for a great workspace. There's plenty of counters and drawers for our needs and even though it means all of our small appliances are on display and our food pantry is around the corner in our home office, it's still been a nice place to work. It does however limit traffic flow and is more of a "one butt kitchen" and makes working together a little awkward.
Hallways: The art in our hallways are all from friends or are gifts we've made each other over the years. The bookshelf that holds our comics is from IKEA and has been with us in every home we've lived in. The long bench was found at a local flea market and will most likely be in every entryway we ever have (it was in our last one as well). The metal house hooks are awesome for hanging our keys and dog leashes on and are from Domesticity. They've been great in our landing strip and are a great combination of functioning design!
Bedroom: Our bedroom might hold odd things (normal people don't have flat files and random bookcases in their love nest, but in a small space, you do what you have to), but we like to keep it minimal. The duvet is Anthropologie, the lamp is Thomas O'Brien (as is the nightstand). The alarm clock is from Sony and I mention it because it's been the best alarm clock purchase I've ever made. I'll be sad when it dies of old age someday! The bowling pins were a wedding present, the mirror was the first Christmas gift I ever made for my husband (along with the owl painting for Valentines later on), the octopus is from Alicia Ross and my husband's latest pride and joy... the A-Team Van.
Thanks for taking our tour, we had wanted to show you this awesome fully designed and custom home that embodied who we are and what we love, but this time around, we really wanted to show that you can create a home in a place where you can't change a thing. It's one of the most common problems for renters and even if you can change everything (as long as you change it back when you move out) sometimes, it's not worth the money to personalize a space when you'll only be there for a short time. We're ready to say good-bye to this basement loft and helllllllllo to our new home — a Russian Orthodox church that needs a serious over haul! Stay tuned!
Images: Sarah Rae Trover