In Partnership WithThe 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.

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.”