This Travel Journalist’s First ‘Big Girl’ Apartment Is a Cozy, Colorful, Maximalist Mix

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Name: Rachel Center
Location: Glover Park, Washington, DC
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 667 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I am a travel journalist current living in Washington, DC. I’ve been in DC for four years now and this is my first big girl apartment. I was previously in a shared row house, which was cute as someone who was new to DC, but after nearly two years and legit 10 different roommates later, it was time to branch off on my own. I’m originally from San Diego but have lived in Monterey, Madrid, and London and my apartment definitely reflects that. My place contains a hodgepodge of items I’ve collected from my travels, flea markets, and Craigslist. I also have loads of items from major retailers such as World Market, Anthropologie, and HomeGoods too. It’s an eclectic mix not just in origin, but also color. My apartment is a burst of color. I’m by no means a minimalist, so you’ll find a lot of things in my apartment and most of them will be brightly-colored.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is my living room because it’s the most decorated place in the apartment. All of my most special and unique decor pieces I have collected over the years, including homages to the cities I’ve lived in, are in there. As such, I feel most at home/me in the living room. Plus, I feel like all the most lovely apartment moments happen in there. Having my morning coffee at my dining table, where I put out fresh flowers every week, curling up on my couch late at night with some tea and a cozy blanket watching TV, etc.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Maximalist, colorful, vintage, boho

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? It would probably be the thin walls and floors. I live in an old building so that is to be expected. When my neighbors are home I hear pretty much everything, from singing in the shower to their microwave going off. I’ve gotten used to it to an extent but sometimes it’s just too much. If I could magically transform the innards of the walls and floors here to concrete, my apartment would be perfect.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I purchased for my home is a giant Chinese fan from the Melrose flea market in LA. It’s relatively ginormous and super fragile. Probably one of the more impractical purchases I have ever made but it was only $20!! It’s hand painted and definitely has some wear and tear but it was too beautiful and unique to pass up. Not to mention it matched my apartment’s color palette pretty perfectly.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I would say choose pieces that you absolutely love, fit your style to a T, and feel the most you. That has always been my guiding principle and in my opinion, the key to creating a place that you love and that you can call a home, not just a house or an apartment. When you first start decorating, if you don’t find pieces that you really love or speak to you right away, just wait. The last thing you want to do is buy something and later find the perfect decor piece and think damn, I already spent money on that side table or framed print that I’m not 100% into. Unless that thing is something you urgently need, of course, like utensils. There are only so many options when it comes to utensils.

This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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