A Shabby Chic St. Paul Apartment

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Name: Katherine Harris
Location: Highland Park; St. Paul, Minnesota
Size: 850 square feet
Years lived in: 9 months rented

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As a professional photographer, Katie has a keen eye for design, finding inspiration in vintage kitchens and old farmhouses. Most of all, Katie leans heavily on the philosophy that decor need not be expensive. To Katie, meaningfulness trumps all else, with the majority of her furniture being gifts, hand-me-downs, and local purchases. In a short nine months, Katie’s decor philosophy and convictions have served her well in completing this space, despite having started fresh with nearly all of her furniture since her last move.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)
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Katie’s entry is a super small area. When the door opens, this narrow wall immediately greets visitors. Katie dressed it up with an assortment of small art pieces. (Image credit: Emma Fiala)

In addition to Katie’s style being undeniably shabby chic, there is a strong undercurrent of positivity in every room. When not doing what she loves, Katie surrounds herself with what she loves and evidence of those things.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

As a photographer, Katie has an ample supply of photos and has picked her favorites to display—photos of favorite places, family and friends fill frames and hang from clips throughout her space. From the pillow on the couch that reminds her to smile to the inspirational reminders on her walls, Katie’s apartment is a bright and happy haven ready to help her take on whatever life throws her way.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Shabby chic

Inspiration: Old farmhouses, 1950s kitchens, floral fabric, and chalkboards.

Favorite Element: Photography. I am a photographer by trade and love incorporating that element into my home decor. I am deeply passionate about what I do and adding personalized items to my home.

Biggest Challenge: Furnishing my space. I moved after previously selling most of the furniture I owned including my bed. In a matter of a few weeks I had most of my home furnished by the generosity of a Bible Study friend who wanted to get rid of some furniture and others who sold me things at great prices. I love that my home is full of pieces that others have loved before me.

What Friends Say: My dear friend Courtney and fellow St. Paulite says, “Katie’s home is very thoughtfully put together. Everything in it has meaning and purpose, and form follows function. It’s a wonderful reflection of her personality and excellent taste.”

Biggest Embarrassment: When I moved into my apartment I didn’t check the water pressure beforehand. The pressure was terrible, temperature inconsistent, and sometimes the water would shut off entirely. As a result, it took six months for the management to finally fix the plumbing. I’m grateful it got handled, but I probably should have done that before signing a lease. Oh, the joys of renting.

Proudest DIY: I am quite proud of my dining room table and chairs. Several years ago I was driving and noticed this table near the road with a “free” sign on it. In excellent condition and from an expensive furniture store, I knew I had found the perfect find. Upon taking it home I painted the legs and thrifted chairs a pale mint color. The chair seats needed new covers and I simply cut up an unused Target shower curtain for that. The table weighs a ton and the top needs to be re-finished, but it has served me very well over the past several years and was one of the only pieces of furniture I already had when I moved into this current apartment.

Biggest Indulgence: My bedding, it’s from Pottery Barn. I don’t own any expensive furniture. I prefer to indulge in experiences: dinners with friends, travel, and really good Malbec.

Best Advice: I think you can make any place, grand or small, home. You don’t need a huge budget to make a beautiful space. If you’re wanting to fill your home with meaningful items, you have to purchase meaningful items. I love supporting fellow, small artists, and other photographer friends by displaying their work in my home. I adore mixing older and newer pieces, finding that my best thrifting experiences happen when I shop often and go off the beaten path. The thrifting in the Twin Cities is excellent, but I have found some of my favorite pieces in smaller towns where the shops are less expensive and the merchandise less picked over.

I also feel our homes should be very personal spaces with things that bring joy and tell a story. I love seeing photos all over my apartment of the people, places, and memories I hold dear. It’s okay to mix Target and IKEA with Etsy and thrift store finds. Our homes should be a reflection of who we are. It’s okay to love simple and even conventional things. Ultimately, it’s best to just be happy with what we have. Someday I would love to own my own home and have a family, but in the meantime this one-bedroom apartment is perfect for my life right now.

Dream Sources: I would love some Orla Kiely wallpaper and an even larger collection of Fire King Jadeite dishware, but am very happy with what I have. It’s been so fun to put together this place!



  • Floral “K”: Anthropologie
  • “Home sweet home” block: Hobby Lobby


  • Couch: Craigslist
  • Shelves: Amazon
  • Remaining furniture: thrifted, DIY, hand-me-downs
  • Lamp, clock, and faux fur rug: IKEA
  • Watercolor painting print: Beth Allen Art
  • “Agree” watercolor painting: Amanda Reed, Reed Written
  • Photography print: From a boutique in Fargo, ND
  • Metal “K”: Anthropologie
  • Pink painted sign: purchased from a vendor at The Junk Bonanza
  • Frames: thrifted, antique, or Hobby Lobby
  • Berry crate calendar: crate is from Anthropologie
  • Framed picture of girl: The Black Apple
  • Harvest moon photograph: Nicole Ubben
  • “H” photograph: Mara Oakvik
  • All other photos: taken by me {The Jadeite Shutter}
  • Pillows: handmade {fabric from local shop, Crafty Planet}, Target, and Home Goods


  • “Sings My Soul” print: Fancy That Design House via Etsy
  • Green card holder: Salvation Army
  • Gold frame with “Apt Rules”: hand-me-down from grandfather
  • Table and chairs: thrifted. Painted and recovered by me.
  • Wooden ladder: vendor at The Junk Bonanza
  • Ledges: IKEA
  • Painting: Beth Allen Art
  • “Be Still” Print: Katie Daisy on Etsy
  • Party fans: Paper Source
  • Frames: thrifted or repainted with chalky spray paint
  • Headboard chalkboard: Junket


  • Growler: Dangerous Man Brewery in Northeast Minneapolis {it’s a great place, check it out if you’re ever in Mpls}
  • Utensil crock: Tele-Fun brand {found at Salvation Army}
  • Spoon rest: Cost Plus World Market
  • Aprons: handmade, The Kitchen Window, vintage, and Williams-Sonoma
  • Bread box: antique, found at The Junk Bonanza
  • Sifters: antique
  • “7”: vintage, found at Hunt + Gather
  • Green tray: CB2
  • Mixing bowls: vintage-inspired Pyrex from Target
  • Black cat clock: Gift shop at the Minnesota History Center


  • Canvas: custom design from CanvasOnDemand.com
  • Dresser lamps: Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic for Target
  • Blue tufted chair: antique
  • Bunting: DIY
  • Artwork: thrifted, frame repainted
  • Mirror: thrifted and repainted
  • Furniture: thrifted or hand-me-down
  • Bedding: Pottery Barn
  • Antlers: DIY by me
  • Frame: IKEA, portrait by Mara Oakvik


  • Magazine container: Salvation Army
  • Rug: Cost Plus World Market
  • Shower curtain: Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic for Target
  • Mirrored, “b”: thrifted
  • Radio/MP3 player: Anthropologie
  • Artwork: Hobby Lobby
  • Glass bottles: thrifted and collected from Stillwater, MN to Ireland


  • Frames: repainted with chalky spray paint
  • Gray photo clip board frame: handmade by Mara Oakvik
  • Photography: taken by me {The Jadeite Shutter}

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Thanks, Katie!