A Cheerful & Colorful Cozy Rental in Massachusetts

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Anna and Zan Winchell, and mini-labradoodle, Pennylane
Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 2 years

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Anna and Zan’s apartment is one you walk into and immediately know they have had fun designing it and making it their own. The spacious, two floor rental apartment is filled with natural light and white walls that are jazzed up with thrifted finds, gallery walls filled with light-hearted artwork, mementos from travels, and bright pops of color as cheerful as the couple who call it home.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Anna and Zan are unfazed by DIY projects and have decorated their apartment on a dime—a task involving patience, luck, the help from in-laws who love to hunt yard sales, and a good amount of elbow grease to transform their thrifty finds into pieces that feel right at home in their space.

Anna, a second grade teacher and blogger behind Dear Friend Blog, has a penchant for interior design—drawing inspiration from Instagram and fellow bloggers. Having just celebrated their one year anniversary, it is obvious the space is filled with love, not just because of the objects but also because of the joy Anna and Zan exude, along with their darling pup, Pennylane.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Colorful cozy, and mostly second hand.

Inspiration: I draw on inspiration from all over the place. I love reading blogs and I love following so many people on Instagram with beautiful homes and style. I’ve always been into decorating and design. I remember sitting in Barnes and Noble as a little girl and reading through all the home style books and viewing the architecture layouts. I love seeing how other people style their homes and when it came time to design ours I just brought in things I loved and had fun with it.

Favorite Element: We love the light in our apartment and the big windows! The rooms in our house are south facing, which means we get the best light year-round. We also live on the second floor and being up high makes our space often feel like a cozy tree house.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Biggest Challenge: We don’t have a lot of kitchen storage so we have to store our food in the back stairwell. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer so we have to be mindful of what we’re keeping there and how it reacts to temperature. We also have a lot of space right now for just two people, which leaves a few empty rooms on the third floor. We hope to grow our family someday and wouldn’t mind staying here, so I know we will be thankful for the space when that time comes!

What Friends Say: Lots of friends comment on our living room map—they love it and so do we! So much of our home comes from other people’s old stuff. Zan’s dad loves to collect from yard sales and we’ve collected on our own and with his help over the years. His parents live in the same neighborhood as we do, which is nice. I mentioned I was looking for an old map one day and the next day we had one! And it’s fantastic!

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Biggest Embarrassment: Our stove is so old! You have to turn at least two burners on at a time so that they’ll light properly. Our kitchen is pretty dated in general, but we try our best to make it work.

Proudest DIY: I am proud of my gallery walls, both in the bedroom and in the office. I psyched myself out and was so scared to put them up, but now that they’re finished I couldn’t be happier with them. (Also, as a tip, I used command strips to hang the frames, which made it less stressful!) Zan’s would have to be the copper pipe pot hangers in the kitchen. He completed those a few weeks after we moved in and they’ve been essential for storage in our small kitchen!

Biggest Indulgence: Honestly, almost all of our furnishings have been thrifted or gifted and we feel really lucky about that. We have plans to buy a nice set of linen sheets as a first anniversary gift to each other—an indulgence for sure and we’re pretty excited about it.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Best Advice: Fill your home with what you love. It seems so simple, but it makes spending time here all the more special. I look around almost every day and say out loud, “I am so in love with our home.”

Dream Sources: Anthropologie, West Elm, Terrain, Brimfield Antique Fair

(Image credit: Emily Billings)
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Anna, Zan, and their pup, Pennylane, in the airy second-floor living room. (Image credit: Emily Billings)

Thanks, Anna and Zan!

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