An Organic Modern “Urban Tree House” in Indianapolis

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Name: Leslie Lewis
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Size: 630 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; rented

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The big windows are Leslie’s favorite thing about her apartment. A corner unit with a great view of downtown Indianapolis, the light streams in, illuminating a cozy home full of unique (and mostly vintage) decor.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

She’s amassed her collection of art, furniture and objects over the years, piece-by-piece, from sources like Craigslist, West Elm, local antique stores, auctions, and even furniture made by her dad. Despite the amount of items in the space, this home is far from feeling too crowded thanks to Leslie’s artful eye for arranging. Her home is the perfect example of how to patiently assemble an elegant apartment without spending a ton of money. The result is an artful, calm oasis made even cozier by her adorable furry companions.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Warm, feminine, and refined.

Inspiration: Mid-century/Danish modern aesthetic with some bohemian and industrial touches.

Favorite Element: In the apartment itself, I love the windows. The last place I lived, I only had north-facing windows, and now I have light that streams in from the south and east. I also have an awesome bird’s-eye view of downtown Indianapolis, and it makes me feel a little bit like I’m living in an urban tree house.

Biggest Challenge: My desire for change…when I see someone else’s space that might be completely different than mine (say colorful and bohemian), I start to think, “I should repaint all of my walls green and hang dream catchers everywhere!”

What Friends Say: That my space has a lot of wonderful stuff in it without feeling cluttered or overwhelming. That every piece and arrangement feels thoughtful and intentional.

Biggest Embarrassment: My place is hard to keep clean—being downtown and keeping windows open whenever possible means grit is always floating in, and I sometimes do a poor job of managing it. There are only so many times a gal can clean the same windowsill without starting to curse it.

Proudest DIY: Although I aspire to be crafty, I don’t know that I really pull it off, so my proudest creative accomplishment in my home is just the decorating risks I take. Opting to permanently hang my favorite kimono in my bedroom. My mismatched set of dining room chairs. My off-center art, etc.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Biggest Indulgence: The first (and only) real designer piece I ever bought is the Paul McCobb dresser in my bedroom. I won it at auction here in Indianapolis—the first time I’d ever bid in an auction–where I kept nervously outbidding myself until the auctioneer halted the bidding to assure the “girl in the back” that she was still in the lead and could put her paddle down. My dream indulgence is a black Eames recliner, but it will likely be years before that happens. And a SMEG fridge. And a George Nelson pendant lamp. And…And…all of the pretty things.

Best Advice: Use Pinterest (or some other similar tool) to explore your tastes and define your vision for your home. Whenever someone asks me to help them decorate their space, I advise that they start a collection of inspirational images to help guide the process. And then…thrift! Buying things new is fine, but you can often get much more interesting and economical pieces second-hand. Indianapolis has some wonderful stores where I get my stuff—Midland Antiques, Society of Salvage, and Flux are my favorites.

Dream Sources: Design Within Reach, the MOMA Store, Scandinavian Designs, AllModern, Blu Dot, H&M Home (because the closest one is in Chicago), Form + Function, JoyBird, Archiproducts, Leah Duncan, Schoolhouse Electric, Aelfie for rugs and textiles, Heath Ceramics, Modernica, 2Modern, Ferm Living, and so many more that I can’t list without being excessive.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)
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Entry (Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

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Thanks, Leslie!