Anna’s Small “Eclectic Glam” Apartment

published Nov 23, 2015
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(Image credit: Submitted by Anna)

Name: Anna
Location: Oak Park, Illinois

For a few long months after I moved into my apartment last winter, I dreaded coming home each night. I’d just lost a spacious dream apartment in a devastating breakup. I’d lost the sunny windows and the working fireplace. And I’d lost the man I’d planned to come home to for the rest of my life.

So opening the door to my empty new unit led to countless evenings of crying under the covers in my tiny bedroom. Eventually, I realized my bed would be my scene for a while. On Saturday mornings, I was going to be reading magazines in my pajamas instead of brunching with my boyfriend. On weeknights, I was going to be unwinding among my throw pillows with a podcast instead of cuddling with my ex on our old couch in our old apartment.
(Image credit: Submitted by Anna)

“I live here now,” I repeated aloud as I paced the short hallway between my new living room and bedroom.

When I finally accepted that these little rooms were my new home, I decided to make them as enveloping and healing as possible.

Even though I’m alone, I feel a kind of companionship now in my surroundings of carefully selected flea-market treasures, delicately feminine chandeliers (with dim pink light bulbs), and soft furry rugs . . . where my cat is waiting for me.

(Image credit: Submitted by Anna)

I’ve finally started looking forward to coming home to my apartment. Here are some details on what I love:

  • SIZE: One-bedroom, 527 square feet. It’s the smallest space I’ve ever had, but the nearness of the surrounding walls feels like a kind of hug.
  • TYPE: Apartment, rented. Trying not to lose the security deposit has actually led to some of my favorite ideas. Instead of painting (as I would if I owned), I added color—and texture—by hanging up a gallery of empty frames as a kind of wallpaper and stapling up curtain panels as an accent wall.
  • BEST ATTRIBUTES: Even though I scrambled to find this place during the worst season for apartment hunting (dead winter), I happened upon a third-story vintage unit with some ideal features: wood floors and old radiators; a perfect location in a quaint downtown with charming restaurants and grocery stores; and super close public transportation to nearby Chicago, so I can watch from my windows as the trains make their trips to the city all night long.
  • STYLE: Eclectic glam. There’s a little bit of industrial, a whole lot of antique, and just a whiff of old Hollywood style.
  • (Image credit: Submitted by Anna)
  • INSPIRATION: I discover the best ideas (and treasures) as I wander through flea markets and antique stores. But on a few recent staycations, I started noticing gorgeous interiors in several Chicago restaurants and hotel lobbies, so I’ve tried to translate those grand designs to my tiny apartment. And when I’m curled up at home, I love browsing magazines, but I actually prefer the (free) catalogs from Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, and IKEA for their unexpected inspiration.
  • FAVORITE ITEMS: Many of my belongings remind me of the past relationship I miss and the hopeful future I’m trying to create in my new home. To replace the DIY two-person desk I’d constructed with my ex, there’s the little antique secretary desk I found on Craigslist and painted black during the dark days after our breakup. There’s the antique farmer’s table that didn’t fit into our old apartment, but thankfully it hadn’t sold when I’d listed it on Craigslist. And then there’s the bare-branched tree that I dug up from my parents’ backyard a few winters ago. My ex pruned its unruly shape into a sculptural silhouette. And now, the tree arches over my living room, reminding me of the beauty and life still possible in something once left for dead.
  • (Image credit: Submitted by Anna)

    •FAVORITE ROOMS: I’ve gone girly in the apartment’s most intimate rooms. Closets used to serve as my hiding spot for a mess. But when I first glimpsed this apartment’s surprising walk-in, I decided to create a secret boudoir where I could indulge my love of shoes and my penchant for pink. I saved my favorite color, though, for the bedroom, and wrapped it in black contact paper to create a kind of comforting womb. Then I layered on soft fabric: window panels, a curtain in place of a bedroom door, and a wall of cascading curtains. Even the tufted chair received three agonizing coats of black fabric spray paint! My proudest achievement, though, is the 50 yards of brown tulle that I twisted carefully into a ceiling canopy, culminating in the center with a cluster of delicate black paper chandeliers. And when I lie under them each night, I’m happy to be home.

    Thanks, Anna!

    If this space looks a little familiar it’s because it was one of the entries in the 2015 Small Cool Contest!

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