Chris’s Sunny & Small Student Apartment in Ann Arbor

published Oct 11, 2011
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Name: Chris, Master of Public Policy Candidate at Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Size: 390 square feet
Years lived in: 2 months, rented

As a busy grad student, Chris takes a no-nonsense approach to decor. His space is tiny at only 390 square feet, but feels much more spacious because of his take-no-prisoners approach to clutter and excess.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Because of his minimal style, Chris appreciates and is intentional about each item in his home. From the artwork throughout, to the small ladder used as a nightstand, to the fabulous DIY kitchen island, he’s not afraid to showcase functionality while keeping a strong sense of personality in his home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: A good home doesn’t require a lot of space. It just needs a well-curated collection – as a Brooklyn friend put in – of whatever you like and need. For me, that’s a home with a modest collection of books, plenty of cooking equipment, and space to both relax with and entertain small groups of friends.

Inspiration: European travel, the watercolors my Mom paints of fruit, Apartment Therapy’s Small Space Solutions, and the Copenhagen rentals on

Favorite Element: In the kitchen, the large basin of the presumably-original ceramic sink provides plenty of space for washing sheet pans as well as big pots and pans. This ceramic fixture extends beyond the basin to include a surface for drying dishes, up above the sink, which slopes toward the basin so that water drips into the sink. A dish rack fits nicely on this surface, without needing a tray to catch water. In the bathroom, the delicately small floor tiles and the vintage built-into-the-tile-wall ceramic soap and toothbrush holders feel comfortably classic.

Biggest Challenge: Storing a lot of cooking and baking equipment in a small kitchen with minimal cabinets and just one drawer. Thank goodness for my butcher block storage and a shelf above the sink to hold glasses and plates.

What Friends Say: Your garden apartment really has a garden, and the large window shows it off!

Biggest Embarrassment: Putting up with a leaky air conditioner for a week. Traditional window air conditioners take moisture from the air and drip it out the window, but these units hardly fit into the odd-shaped openings of my windows. So instead, I tried I using a free-standing, portable air conditioner, designed to evaporate water out a hose vented through the window. I think these units usually work fine. But mine was not functioning properly, and was leaking copious amounts of water onto my floor. Still, I tried to put up with it for a week, collecting the water in several ridiculous ways, before I finally replaced the unit.

Proudest DIY: I built my butcher block counter table to fit around a kitchen radiator in my last Chicago apartment, so originally the table didn’t have its bottom shelf. Since this apartment doesn’t have a radiator, my brother suggested adding a bottom shelf, which has been critical for storage in this small kitchen. The table’s base, made of black steel pipes from a hardware store, holds the butcher block surface over two pine shelves, which were cut at local lumber yards and oiled to take away the raw look and ease cleaning.

Biggest Indulgence: Holding out for the right sofa on Craigslist. It didn’t cost an incredible amount of money, but it took more time to find than I would care to admit. I also bought two vintage lamps: a desk lamp from Etsy and a floor lamp from Circa Modern.

Best Advice: Consider buying pre-made picture frames, but asking your local framing shop to mat, or at least mount, your art. This costs significantly less than custom framing, but still presents your art well.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Chris!

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