Amie, Emma, and Francesca’s “Goodbye to the Dorm” Apartment

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

Name: Amie, Emma, and Francesca
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

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When these three met at University three years ago during orientation week they decided: “forget the dorm, let’s share an apartment together”. They found this 500 square foot downtown apartment on their only day of searching and they knew that they had to have it (especially after seeing the next one on their list). The apartment is a reflection of their very different styles: Emma likes boho-vintage-y stuff, Francesca would be at home in a Victorian parlor or a stuffy professor’s office, and Amie tends toward mid-century modern.

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Amie’s favorite element in the apartment: the living room rug. She saw it on the wall of an antique store for only $30 and stood beside it for ten minutes to make sure it would be hers. (Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)
(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

They really lucked out with a dishwasher, in-unit laundry, AC, and a great landlord. Living right downtown, close to the University, was a must for them- they didn’t want to spend a lot of time on the subway just to get to class or to go out. The neighborhood is a mix of run-down places and hip coffee shops. Everything they need is nearby: groceries, stores, restaurants, pubs, bookstores, etc. A few weeks ago the entire block was closed because of a big-budget movie being shot and they saw Will Smith go into their favorite frozen yogurt shop. “So that was pretty cool,” says Amie.

Over the past years they’ve slowly brought in some new stuff (goodbye futon, hello couch) and made it more their styles (“boho Scandinavian vintage fusion”, says Emma). The apartment is definitely still evolving. A great tip for three people living in 500 square feet is to carve out your own spaces where you can have things just how you like them. The loft bed in the room that two of them share turned out to be a great way for them to each have their own spot. Amie’s is underneath the bed and the fabric separates her bed from Emma’s desk. Francesca is the only one with her own room so that’s a place that is all hers.

The living room, which Emma lovingly refers to as “the family room”, is their favorite part of the house, especially with some candles burning and a record playing. They often bring their reading there and just sit together, enjoying the atmosphere.

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We all have very different styles so the apartment is a kind of fusion of that. Emma likes boho-vintage-y stuff, Francesca would be at home in a Victorian parlour or a stuffy professor’s office, and Amie tends toward mid-century modern with a lot of white, wood, and plants—although she fails at keeping anything more than succulents alive.

Inspiration: You know how when you’re playing the Sims, the nicer the house, the higher the mood points? We think the same goes for us, and that’s what inspires us to surround ourselves with pretty things. Also, Instagram and various design blogs are a constant source of inspiration.

Favorite Element:

Amie: I love the living room rug. I saw it on the wall of an antique store and stood beside it for ten minutes until an employee came around to get it down for me- I wasn’t letting it out of my sight.

Emma: My favorite element is the window seat- put a record on, open a good book, and you’re set.

Francesca: My favorite element is bismuth because it has the most stable atomic nucleus so when all other elements have broken down due to the universe’s inevitable heat death, bismuth will be the last to remain whole.

Biggest Challenge: There is really only one way to arrange the furniture in each room; we get restless because we like to rearrange things a lot. Also renting limits what we can do with the space like not being able to paint, take down the blinds, or take down the towel bar.

What Friends Say: “This doesn’t look like a student apartment” “Ooh, is that cake?”

Biggest Embarrassment: The constant plant death. Also the perpetual dirt on the windowsills from the plants we can keep alive.

Proudest DIY: It’s not really a DIY but putting together the cabin bed is probably what we’re most proud of- it took three hours but so far it hasn’t fallen down and only makes slightly frightening creaking sounds.

Biggest Indulgence: The couch- we absolutely could not live with a terrible futon anymore.

Best Advice: If you’re patient, you can get a good deal on things. You don’t have to finish your apartment all at once; we’re still tweaking things two years on.

Advice for 3 people in 500 square feet: Make sure you like the people you live with, carve out your own spaces where you can have things just how you like them, try to have different schedules so that everyone gets some time alone.

Dream Sources: West Elm, Anthropologie, Schoolhouse Electric, fancy antique stores, those restaurant supply stores on the Bowery in NYC (basically anything that will prevent our apartment looking like an Ikea showroom).


(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)


  • Couch: Ikea Karlstad
  • Rug: Antique Store
  • Chairs: Zehrs Superstore via Amie’s parents #glam
  • Window bench: Winners
  • Bookshelves: Ikea Billy
  • Light: Globe electric via (cord) and Ikea (shade)
  • Pictures: The Strand Bookstore
  • Glass side table: Ikea
  • Table: Sears
  • Pillows: Ikea, Sears, DIY
(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)


  • Table: Ikea via Francesca’s parents
  • Prints: Poppytalk
  • Shelves: Ikea
(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)


  • Furniture: Ikea
  • Lights:
  • Caribbean map: Caribbean
  • World map: Honest Ed’s
  • Globe: Winners
  • Desk: Ikea tabletop and legs
  • Black chair: Ikea
  • Chair: side of the road
  • Glass desk: Ikea
  • Cabin bead: Ikea
  • Bed: Ikea
  • Rug: Goodwill
  • Chandelier: Ikea
  • Under-bed light: Ikea
(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)


  • New Yorker calendar: Calendar Club
(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

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Thanks Amie, Emma, and Francesca!