This Architect Made a Small Studio Personal, Despite Not Owning It

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Living room in studio apartment with lots of vintage finds. The plaster floor lamp was sourced from @hutchandhardware. The collection of objects on the Crate & Barrel glass-top table include a ribbed green Murano glass vase sourced from Chairish and an onyx bowl from @_themodernheirloom.
Credit: Keaton Cizek
My biggest DIY project for this apartment was mounting IKEA’s VIDGA curtain track system above the full-height windows. The sheers and blue velvet curtains are also IKEA, hemmed to a custom length by a local tailor. The Milo Baughman credenza was my first ‘serious’ furniture purchase, sourced from @eastsidemodern.

Keaton Cizek is an architect from Texas “specializing in high-end residential design.” He tells AT about the 650-square-foot Denver, Colorado, studio apartment he’s been renting for nine months with Vernon, the chihuahua.

Creating “home” is what I love to do, for others through my professional work and for myself in my free time. My upbringing was defined by the many times we moved house and I have continued the pattern since graduating college, so far moving six times in as many years. My apartments have somewhat served as design laboratories, the editing process seemingly unending — sourcing and reselling, arranging, and rearranging.

Credit: Keaton Cizek
The blue IKEA BILLY bookcase also serves as auxiliary dish storage and file cabinet. The sunflower blockprint is from @liliarnoldstudios.

This has provided an outlet for the ideas that accumulate through my perpetual scouring of Instagram, shelter magazines, design books, and industry podcasts for inspiration. When I was looking to move to Denver and found this place, I fell for its full-height windows and signed quickly. The layout has allowed for the functionality of a higher-rent one-bedroom apartment despite it technically being a studio.

Credit: Keaton Cizek
A translucent IKEA room divider separates office from living room in this studio apartment’s open area. Vintage architectural cladding product advertisements flank an aerial photograph of Dallas’s skyline with the Great Trinity Forest in the foreground.

I believe that we can surround ourselves with meaning through the things we live with, the spaces we live in, and the structure that contains it all. I heard it said recently that personalization is the ultimate luxury and I quite agree; I would love to own and renovate one day when I have the means, but as a renter I find so much joy in making an apartment feel like an extension of myself as much as I can. My place is full of the things I have acquired over time — some inherited, like my grandparents’ metal desk and my parents’ curvy brass lamp; some bought new, like my Crate & Barrel entry bench and IKEA dining table and chairs, and some sourced from vintage resellers on Instagram and in brick-and-mortar shops, like my pumpkin-orange couch and Milo Baughman credenza. Incorporating notes of my home state help me to feel grounded — one example being the aerial view of Dallas that hangs over my exercise bike, a gift from a favorite past coworker.

Credit: Keaton Cizek
This is the first apartment that I’ve had with a proper entryway. It’s extremely helpful to have a storage bench for putting on shoes (snagged on clearance from Crate & Barrel), especially with the salt/sand so easily tracked in during the winter.

As a gay man, my growing collection of queer books and art connect to something bigger than myself — a history, culture, and community. The larger of my two Gabriel Dawe prints was a gift I gave myself when I graduated architecture school and I credit its presence with my embrace of more and more color throughout my home over the intervening years. A similarly colorful Pyrex bowl art print that I purchased when I felt homesick in college hangs in my kitchen near flame-orange Le Creuset pieces gifted to me by my sister across several birthdays. The boots, hat, and fringed mask from last Halloween’s Orville Peck costume occupy places of honor in my entryway and bedroom, while relics retrieved from the construction sites of past projects populate my living room end table as accessories.

Credit: Keaton Cizek
The apartment’s open area with kitchen to one side allows for a six-seat dining table, which can also serve as additional prep space and laundry folding zone. The Parsons chairs are vintage in original fabric from @otherly_homes_dallas.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Art-centric, vintage with contemporary backdrop.

Credit: Keaton Cizek
The plaster floor lamp was sourced from @hutchandhardware. The collection of objects on the Crate & Barrel glass-top table include a ribbed green Murano glass vase sourced from Chairish and an onyx bowl from @_themodernheirloom.

What is your favorite room and why? I’m so proud of how far my living room has come, across all of the apartments I’ve had. It reflects my taste more than ever and the vintage furniture pieces that anchor the space in particular represent significant bets that I made on myself. The rug, sourced along with several other of my rugs from IG vintage rug dealer extraordinaire @themidcenturymodernproject, also represents a graduation from puppy phase for my dog, Vernon. It feels risky to splurge on higher quality, but the result has been really rewarding.

Credit: Keaton Cizek
The raw poplar sculpture is the only model I’ve kept from architecture school. The @adamnathanielfurman print of SOM’s Chase Tower colors the corner and nods to my Dallas roots. Velvet Euro shams from Rejuvenation were a recent splurge. The vintage art mirrors above the bed were a pair I reunited from two different Dallas-area dealers, @theeclecticdendallas and @recycled.restored.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I was struggling to figure out how to hang two unframed paintings on board without adding hanging hardware in my living room (one vintage French from reseller @requiem.collection, the other new from artist @sarahingrahamm) when I came across a 24” gunmetal picture ledge from CB2 on sale — problem solved.

Credit: Keaton Cizek

Any advice for creating a home you love? Making it deeply personal to you feels so much better than conforming wholesale to trends. Buying vintage and antique keeps more furniture out of the landfill, supports small businesses, and brings soul to your rooms — and it looks great next to new, too!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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