Amanda & Matthew’s Nest of Collectibles

published Jun 6, 2015
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(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Name: Amanda and Matthew (and Severus the cat)
Location: Ferndale, Michigan
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; rented

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While photographing Amanda and Matthew’s second-floor apartment, I tried to define the overall theme of their collection. I saw floral prints on oven mitts and furniture. I noticed animals – both stuffed and printed on textiles. There were bowls of Japanese candies and lots of colors. I finally asked, “What do you collect? Or what determines what you collect?”

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Amanda believes that useful items should also be cute/pretty/fun. Hence the cupcake teapot (and a coordinating tea towel). (Image credit: Mike Hetu)
(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

“Anything cute!” Amanda said. “I like animals and art and cupcakes, but I especially like things that are cute. Why buy something that has a function but looks ordinary? I’d rather have an object that functions but is cute too.” Like a teapot that looks like a cupcake. Or a drinking pitcher covered in plaid hens. Or a rug patterned with stylized owls. The fun everyday objects throughout Amanda and Matthew’s home made me smile.

In addition to cute and quirky housewares, the couple collects art. Amanda has a background in art history and studio art. Matthew has an appreciation for art. The couple’s collection of artwork is displayed throughout each room in the apartment. Some pieces are from local artists, while other art is from people they met while traveling abroad.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Whimsical and sentimental. I really love animals and cute things, and a lot of our furniture and decor are either gifts or things we’ve collected in our travels. I definitely attach memories and feelings to objects.

Inspiration: This is a really hard question. I think we just buy what we love and we really love our home. We’re epic nesters.

Favorite Element: Matthew’s favorite is the grouping of watercolor portraits I painted for Valentine’s Day last year. I don’t think I can choose one element! I’m really in love with our whole apartment.

Biggest Challenge: Getting the couch up the stairs. Also, there wasn’t a lot of closet space to begin with, so we bought wardrobes from IKEA, which made storage a lot nicer.

What Friends Say: The first time our friends come over, they usually comment about how the space genuinely looks like us! And they want a dressing room.

Biggest Embarrassment: Matthew’s dresser. (A note from the photographer and author: I didn’t photograph Matthew’s dresser. Sorry! Imagine a medium brown wood dresser that looked like it was missing the top drawer.)

Proudest DIY: The bedroom curtains! I told myself making curtains would be super easy, and then I put it off for a year. Sewing machines are more confusing than I remembered.

Biggest Indulgence: The cat. We indulge Severus constantly. (A note from the photographer and author: Severus didn’t like the sound of my tripod being adjusted, so he spent most of the photo shoot in hiding.)

Best Advice: Don’t try to do everything at once. We still add things all the time. Nesting is a process!

Dream Sources: We dream of owning works by famous artists.


(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Matthew loves the print of the soot sprites from Spirited Away. The artwork is from last year’s DIY Fest in Ferndale.
  • Severus Snape, the cat, has a Sistine Chapel place mat that Amanda and Matthew bought in Vatican City.
  • Amanda’s Aunt Vicki gave the couple the porcupine print. The other prints came from the Detroit Urban Craft Fair.
  • Amanda’s aprons: vintage and Anthropologie.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • The dining table, rug and chairs are all from IKEA, as well as the cabinet with the glass doors. The cabinet houses much of Amanda’s “cute collection.”
  • The bar cart is from Target. Most of the trinkets on the cart were either given to the couple or collected while on vacation.
  • Matthew’s friend, Nathan Bobinchak, took the photo from backstage at a theatre.
  • Amanda purchased the two oil paintings, the nude and the flowers, on a trip to Paris. The nude was painted by an old man named Fabian.
  • Amanda’s mom gave the couple the Roma textile before they went to Italy. They found the matching Venezia textile when they got to Italy.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Amanda’s grandmother gave the couple the blue couch.
  • Amanda garbage-picked the green chair.
  • The pink chair is one of Amanda’s favorite items in the home. While taking a drive with her grandpa, they stopped at a garage sale. Amanda spotted this chair and NEEDED it, so her grandpa kindly bought it for her.
  • Amanda’s best friend, Katy Hofman, did the hauntingly beautiful painting on the wall opposite the windows.
  • The craft table and the rug are both from IKEA.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • The shower curtain is from Urban Outfitters.
  • Matthew and Amanda created the underwater drawing/watercolor. Severus collaborated by chewing the edges.
  • Amanda’s grandmother found the Elizabethan cat soap.
  • Amanda’s mom found the curtains.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • The wardrobes and rug are from IKEA.
  • Amanda has used the white dresser since she was a baby.
  • The gallery wall: the photo of Severus was taken by Amber Hewitt during the engagement shoot; a print by Katy Hofman; an antique reproduction of a Harunobu print.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Matthew bought Amanda the San Francisco print for Valentine’s Day. The couple got engaged in San Francisco in November.
  • The curtains: Amanda’s DIY with IKEA fabric.
  • The dresser was $10 at Salvation Army.
  • Amanda’s friend Katy Hofman painted the Snow White-esque painting.
  • March snow engagement photos by Amber Hewitt.
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)

    T.V. ROOM

  • The ottoman is from Target.
  • The north wall has a copy of the retirement plaque Matthew’s grandpa got when he retired from Ford. It also has a print that was given to his grandma by her co-workers.
  • Amanda painted the watercolor of a personified food chain in high school A.P. Biology class. She was failing the class miserably. Her teacher took pity on her and let her submit artwork as extra credit.
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    Thanks, Amanda and Matthew!