Name: Lindsey and Stephen
Location: Northern Virginia
Size: 882 Square Feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years
Two and a half years ago, when I moved into our apartment a week before we were married, there was no furniture. My then-fiancé and I had just moved to the area — me from my home in Seattle, him from California back home to Maryland — and I slept that first night on the floor, with a comforter and a desk lamp. It has been our joy to put our apartment together since then, with steals, deals, freebies, creativity—and of course, our beloved books.
The first pieces of furniture that we bought were our bookcases—that's what you need most when two bookworms marry each other. Then we pieced everything else together from family, friends, and Craigslist. We saved up for the things that meant the most to us, including the bed frame, headboard, framing, and a few accessories. We received framing for gifts, as well.
The ocean, and me missing it, was our main source of inspiration. So I started picking up things with a subtle nautical theme. For example, our bedspread is a white coral pattern on a taupe background; the nautical chart in the living room is a real navigation chart of the Potomac River, and the blue-and-white-striped pillows in the living room remind me of nautical flags. (The life preserver on the balcony? Not so subtle.) We mixed the maritime touches with my husband's family's Mid-Atlantic, midcentury furniture and lamps, and the traditional-goes-modern-and-floats-on-the-ocean style was born.
Starting from scratch was a difficult task. I was often overwhelmed with the idea that I had to stick to a style and plan, and so decorating was really a learning process as I read Apartment Therapy, House Beautiful, talked to my stylish friends, and reported for my own design stories. (An interview with one of my favorite interior designers, Graciela Rutkowski, helped me choose the paint color for the dining table.) I finally decided to just buy and acquire what I loved and trust that it would all come together in the end, and as our budget allows. There is a lot more that I would like to do in the future, but I know that by starting with the basics, and building on that, we're in good shape.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Modern meets traditional with some fish thrown in.
Inspiration: The beach homes of the Pacific Northwest and the traditional, Colonial style of Virginia, merged for a modern, hyperorganized lifestyle.
Favorite Element: The organization, which is why we're not afraid to show you our closets! Also, the framed menu boards from Starbucks— they remind me of home.
Biggest Challenge: Being patient with our budget, to acquire furniture slowly.
What Friends Say: That's a lot of books! Have you tried a Kindle?
Biggest Embarrassment: The sofas, which need to be reupholstered. And the walls— I insist on paint the next time we move.
Proudest DIY: The dining table, which I sanded, primed, and painted over many, many hours. And the sofa that I covered up with a paint drop cloth, instead of buying a slipcover.
Biggest Indulgence: The bed frame and headboard from West Elm.
Best Advice: Buy what you love, and the style will follow! And be patient with your budget. Almost every time I was patient, while having my eye on a dream object, an inexpensive version of the dream would come my way.
Dream Sources: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, West Elm, Baker Furniture, The Conran Shop, ABC Carpet & Home, The Container Store, West Marine
Resources of Note:
In lieu of thanking myself, I'm going to say, thank you Apartment Therapy!
Images: Lindsey M. Roberts
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