Before and After: An Old 500-Square-Foot Rental Studio Is Now a Dreamy Paris-Inspired Pied-à-Terre
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Name: Heather B
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Size: 500 Square Feet
Type of Home: 1870s Italianate Architecture Home, studio apartment
Years lived in: 2 years, renting
After becoming an “empty nester” I decided to fulfill my dream of having a little getaway of my own. Luckily, we live an hour from the most fabulous city, Savannah, Georgia! I saw an ad on Craigslist, had the first showing the next day, fell in love, and signed the lease on the spot. That was in June of 2019 and for several months I just lived in the space and did not do any renovations.
I took my first solo trip ever to the magical Chateau de Gudanes in France in July 2019 and it is the inspiration for my apartment. The house I live in was built in the 1870s and has six units, mine being the only studio. We do have some interesting residents that cannot be seen but definitely heard. Savannah is the most haunted city in the United States, and I have witnessed some pretty bizarre things. The house is near a liquor store — ghosts and Southern libations make for the best people watching ever!
When COVID hit I was no longer working as an interior designer and I have spent the last 14 months redoing every inch myself, on a budget. It has become my home and the space where I feel 100 percent my truest self. Some days I write, go on long walks, and work on projects. Other days are spent in my PJs watching foreign films and pretending I am in France. I know that this time will not last forever and I am making the most of every minute!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Thrifted Parisian Chateau Chic
Favorite Element: The tall ceilings, 10-foot windows, original unpainted millwork, and the shutters.
Biggest Challenge: I did this all on a budget since I pay for it on my own. It is literally perfect except for the occasional Palmetto Bug (fancy word for BIG COCKROACH) and the “bumps” in the night. I have asked the resident ghosts to kindly not appear in my apartment.
Proudest DIY: Painting the countertops, cabinets, and putting the backsplash stickers on.
Biggest Indulgence: Having a pied-à-terre to stay in three to four days a week is the biggest indulgence and having a husband who supports me always. Also an abstract floral painting by Alyssa Perry. So worth it and it speaks to my soul; it was so reasonably priced.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? It has become my creative haven; I am more inspired there than anywhere else. I started writing in November 2020 and have had three pieces published, a lovely pandemic surprise.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Cire Trudon Ernesto Candle, which is used at the Chateau and transports me instantly. Mersea Voyager Hand Soap, lotion, and room spray are so divine. Kitchen products from Vivi et Margo; everything is sourced from France and is so dreamy.
French treasures and antiques are from The Huntress NY, such an incredibly beautiful store! So many finds in every price range. My favorite soap by Hudson Made NY, called the Worker’s Soap, is sold there. I wish they made it in a fragrance spray!
Jamie Beck’s gorgeous photography prints from her Isolation Creation Series; they are stunning and very well priced. And I am always on the hunt for thrifted finds and treasures and during COVID I found so many things on Etsy.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Invest in a capsule wardrobe! It makes life so much easier, especially when you have one small closet. Have a signature home scent and buy thrifted whenever possible. Find a landlord who will let you upgrade and refresh your apartment; sometimes they will pitch in. I have the best landlord who said I could do anything I wanted. Since the entire apartment is now pink, I have no plans of ever leaving! Living in a small space makes you realize how very little you really need.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? When thrifting NEVER hesitate on buying something you love; it will not be there when you go back. If you love something you will find a way to make it work. If it makes you smile or evokes an emotion go for it! As my two friends Karina and Jenny say, “embrace the imperfectly perfect”; it does set you free.
PAINT & COLORS
- Walls — Benjamin Moore “East Lake Rose”
- Daybed — Walmart
- Daybed bedding — Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Teen
- Custom pillow covers — Etsy TurquoiseTumbleweed
- Gallery wall — Penguin Painting by Ashley Surber
- Abstract floral painting by Alyssa Perry
- Photography prints — Jamie Beck Isolation Creations
- Chateau photographs — Shopthechateau.com
- Ceramic flowers — The Paris Market
- Feather wreath — One Fish Two Fish
- Vintage accessories — Shopthechateau.com
- Gold cross — Barbara Biel
- Mantel — Bust planter Anthropologie; Chateau Etching — @livingafrenchlife; Vintage macaroon tin — Tapley’s Mercantile Savannah, Georgia; Postcards — Chateau de Gudanes
- Art — Jamie Beck Isolation Creation; Vintage Parisian Prints Etsy
- Dining table — World Market
- Books on dining table — “Chateau Life” (Assouline) and “French House Chic” (Amazon) by Jane Webster
- Free dining chairs painted with Krylon Super Maxx Glossy Black Spray Paint. When in doubt spray it black!
- Rug — Walmart
- Bench — Repurposed painted with chalk paint and accented with Rub n Buff Antique Gold, which can transform ANYTHING!
- Florentine candelabra — Tapley’s Mercantile
- Florentine tray — Etsy BeeVintage41
- Candle — Cire Trudon Ernesto
- Vintage Ginori teacup and saucer — Etsy
- Notecards — Rifle Paper Company
- Countertop paint — Giani White Diamond Kit
- Kitchen cabinet paint — Rust-oleum Black Chalk Paint
- Backsplash tiles — Peel and stick Etsy SnazzyDecals
- Dish brush — Vivi et Margo
- Chair photograph — Jennifer Pogmore the most beautiful photographs
- China in open shelf — my Grandmother’s
- Art above the sink — Prints by Alyssa Perry
- Tea box — World Market
- Cutting boards — HomeGoods
- Hand soap — Mersea Voyager
- Floral teapot — World Market
- Mercury glass cabinet knobs — Etsy
- Headboard — Target
- Euro shams — Pottery Barn
- Lumbar monogrammed pillow — Pottery Barn
- Vintage quilts
- Bed skirt — Ashmont Bed Skirt
- Table at the end of the bed — World Market
- Rattan chair — Anthropologie
- Faux throw — Pottery Barn Teen
- Book on table — Summers in France by Kathryn Ireland
- Bedside tables — Hobby Lobby
- Antique swan planter — YES Antiques Savannah, Georgia
- Succulents — Stump Savannah, Georgia
- Dresser — Vintage Thrifted and Painted
- Lamp — HomeGoods
- Easel — Hobby Lobby
- Art on easel — Jamie Beck Isolation Creation
- Market basket — Vivi et Margo
- Gold arrow — The Huntress NY
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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