A Small Rental Apartment Has the Cutest DIY Kitchen Bar

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Name: Tori Hartstein, my boyfriend, Gary
Location: Mid-City — New Orleans, Louisiana.
Type of home: Quadplex
Size: 880 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: We moved to New Orleans after two and a half years in New York, knowing no one and very little about the city. Our neighborhood wasn’t even on our radar when we first started looking for apartments. Added challenge: we didn’t have a car when we first moved so we took a small fortune’s worth of Lyft rides to get around. It was only after talking to the friendly drivers and asking for local’s advice that we decided to give Mid-City a shot.

As soon as I saw our apartment I told Gary I thought it might be the one and it was! We scheduled another viewing so Gary could see it too and ended up signing the lease right then and there. We just got all the right vibes from the apartment and our landlord (who truly is the best). The natural light, double balconies, and the fact that it’s *not* a shotgun (somewhat of a rarity in New Orleans) are our favorite elements. Plus, it’s over 100 years old so it has all the historic charms we love like tall ceilings, lots of windows, and wood floors.

What is your favorite room and why? The office/guest room. When we moved I kept my job, but transitioned to a work from home role. I was so used to going to an office everyday that staying home all the time made me go stir crazy. To combat this I took on a million home projects. Gary loves to joke that I’m not the best at finishing what I start (and he’s right) so completing the office took FOREVER. Maybe it’s the fact that it sat in a state of half-painted, all furniture-pushed-to-the-middle-of-the-room chaos that made me appreciate the final result so much. It just feels like we breathed a whole new life into the room.

Now it’s a peaceful little oasis. It’s private and cozy and leads right out to the back balcony where we can sit and relax on our rocking chairs. Our last apartment was a studio so we didn’t have much space to offer friends and family when they visited. They’d sleep on a small pull-out couch that was essentially at the foot at our bed. It feels incredibly nice to offer them a private, comfortable space now.

The oval framed mirror is another example of the historic charms we love about our home. The standalone sink isn't the greatest source of storage though. The cabinet was another Craigslist find that we jazzed up with mismatched knobs.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Colorful, cozy, natural light-filled

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? An art print from a local benefit, Just Cause, where all proceeds went to Planned Parenthood.

The kitchen bar is our proudest DIY. It’s definitely not perfect (we never sanded the edge of the wood and we mismeasured the spacing of the wall brackets), but it was our first major project together. The stools were a thrifty Craigslist find that I repainted—they were black before!

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t aim to recreate what you see on Pinterest (although it’s a great source of inspiration). Seek out unique pieces that speak to you and don’t rush!

The print above the bed is the first piece of art I truly invested in. The artist is Lili Arnold.

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

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