Name: Kaelie, Andrew, and Zootie the cat
Location: Top of the Tower, Heritage Hill; Grand Rapids, MI
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented
Tyler from the Musical Chairs House Tour texts me on a random Saturday: “I have a referral for you!” His friend Kaelie and her husband live in a “sweet Heritage Hill apartment.” I email Kaelie and once we determine a day, she suggests I photograph their home in the early evening to capture the best light. Plus, Andrew finishes work at the barbershop downtown at four o’clock. Andrew, barbershop, downtown... I put the pieces together: Foremost!
When I lived in Heritage Hill, I passed Foremost everyday on the walk home from work downtown. When I wanted a good haircut with a perfectly sculpted fade, Foremost was an easy stop on the way, and Andrew was always the barber who cut my hair. So when I show up at Kaelie and Andrew’s apartment, we share an “A-ha! You!” moment.
“This is our birdhouse,” says Kaelie — a medieval birdhouse. The third-floor apartment has a turret, thirteen ornate swag lights, lots of gold accents (like mirror frames, art, and a cat vase), a back balcony up in the trees, wood floors and furniture, and a throne with devil head carvings on the armrests. “I won’t buy new furniture,” she explains. The dark, moody, medieval style is paired with retro quirks like velvet paintings and a curved sofa. Plants and contemporary illustrations add freshness.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Gothic Dusky Earth-Toned Castle House
Inspiration: Castles, forests, hobbits, Gothic architecture, mid-twentieth-century thrift finds, doing shit right the first time.
Favorite Element: Swag lamps, the bedroom, and the round shape of the living room.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping it clean! The age of the house means that dust settles almost immediately after cleaning. Also the bathroom is hard to work with because of the strange layout and the lack of a window.
What Friends Say: I am often complimented about the way I organized the space and worked with the uniquely shaped rooms. The interestingly shaped peaks are tied together by the many and varied swag lamps. All of the colors flow nicely together.
Biggest Embarrassment: The pink couch. It’s extremely comfortable, and great for a hangover. But the color is disgusting! It was Andrew’s grandparents’ couch, so we got it for free. I love the shape, but I really need to get up the gumption to reupholster it.
Proudest DIY: It’s hard to pick just one thing. At least 25% of each room has my personal touch. I rewired all of the lamps to conform to their specific position. I crocheted the big white rug in the bedroom out of clothesline rope. I painted every single square inch of the apartment with the exception of the living room. I even fixed several plumbing issues myself! I feel like I should be in line for the Tenant of the Year Award...
Biggest Indulgence: The lamps — I have thirteen of them! Each vintage/antique lamp fixture averages $40, plus the restoration supplies for each cost about $30. I have found some deals, but I’ve also been known to splurge on a lamp because I had to have it.
Best Advice: Work with what you have. Be creative about how you spend your money. And above all, do it yourself! YouTube is the best resource for teaching yourself how to do literally anything, even things you never thought possible.
Dream Sources: Game of Thrones, Hogwarts, and Middle-earth.
PAINT & COLORS
DINING & SEWING ROOM
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Thanks, Kaelie and Andrew!
And thank you to Tyler for referring me to Kaelie and Andrew.