In Partnership With The Home Depot

Before & After: A Chicago Renter Turned One Narrow Space Into a Living Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen

updated Aug 8, 2022
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Credit: Photographer: Sarah Crowley

We’ve all been there: that moment in your twenties when you feel like an adult, but your home feels like a mishmash of everything you’ve thrifted, inherited from your parents, and rescued from the sidewalk. It’s not quite a dorm room, but it’s not not.

That’s how Samantha and her roommate felt about their Chicago apartment. “Our furniture style could best be described as ‘nonexistent,'” she says. “It was a disjointed mix of hand-me-downs and whatever was cheapest when we had our first places.” And they didn’t even have a kitchen table!

Credit: Photographer: Sarah Crowley

Samantha wanted to give their home a more cohesive, modern aesthetic that better suited their lives and personalities. Looking through The Home Depot’s online collection, they found a huge selection of stylish furniture and decor. With affordable, on-trend designs, The Home Depot lets you reimagine your entire space and stay on budget. Here’s how they did it.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

Set a Neutral Foundation

When you’re establishing your first grown-up home, think of your anchor pieces — things like rugs and larger furniture — as not-quite-blank canvases. By choosing neutral hues, you’ll have a cohesive base that you can dress up with different trends, textures, and accent colors for years to come. “Functionally, the furniture we had did the job,” Samantha says. “But now I actually enjoy looking at the space.”

Samantha opted for earthy neutrals, with a beige jute rug and a rich camel faux-leather sofa. The white TV stand has leather pulls that reference the sofa, and a white open bookshelf in the entryway keeps the small living area feeling airy and bright. But that’s not all it does.

Before & After: Samantha’s Apartment Gets a Grownup Look

Glow Up While You Grow Up

Metallic accents (like the bookshelf’s gold frame) bring subtle sophistication to a space. They’re like a great pair of earrings or the perfect bracelet: shiny accessories that help the whole look pop. Samantha leaned into the sparkle with gold nesting coffee tables and a gold floor lamp, which add elegance without taking up too much space. A glam bar cart helps link the living space to the dining area, while a gilded mirror helps reflect light.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

Get Smarter About Your Space

When your stuff is a hodgepodge, it can be hard to arrange it all in a functional way. For Samantha and her roommate, that meant a lot of dinners on the sofa, because they didn’t think they had space for a dining area. But with intentional planning and a few smart purchases, they made their layout more functional and open.

First, they positioned their new area rug just under the sofa, a trick that creates the illusion of space. They added richly textured orange velvet ottomans, which are a small room’s best friend: seating, storage, and decor in one. They put the bookshelf toward the entryway for better flow in the main living area, which then left enough room for a minimalist dining table and crisp white chairs — plus that lovely bar cart. And because everything was chosen to coordinate with everything else, the whole look feels smooth and clean.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Amanda Wolfson Davis

“It has a cohesive vibe and a more grown-up feel now,” Samantha says. “It matches where we are in life.”