Kaelie & Andrew’s Turret in the Trees

published Jul 11, 2015
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(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

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!

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

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.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

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.


(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Dining/Sewing Room: Glidden Matte Wild Truffle and Martha Stewart Matte Gull
  • Kitchen: Benjamin Moore Semi-Gloss Sweet Vibrations
  • The rest of the colors in the house are custom colors, matched to colors I had used before and didn’t know the names of. I usually like to use matte paint to make the walls soft and calming, except in a places of high humidity (bathroom), and places I need to wipe down on a regular basis (kitchen).
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Double pineapple swag: eBay
  • Mirror: thrift
  • Table: left in Andrew’s possession by a former roommate
  • Cat vase: repurposed wine bottle, a gift from Kaelie’s friend Lane
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Art: by friends of Kaelie and Andrew, plus some of their own pieces
  • Sink skirt: DIY (sewed from an old bed sheet and made using a piece of thick gauge copper wire to form a curtain rod to the shape of the sink)
  • Shelves: DIY (2x4s cut and stained, shelving hardware from Home Depot)
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • High Life mirror: Allegan Antique Fair
  • Copper pot hanger: inherited
  • Hanging copper produce basket: eBay
  • Cat painting: a portrait of the couple’s cat Cash done by Andrew
  • Utensil hook: DIY (piece of trim from Home Depot, stained, hooks applied, and mounted to the wall)
  • Spice rack: Changing Thymes in Grandville
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Antique glass top Woodard’s table: inherited
  • Sewing table and chair: IKEA
  • Cat bridge: designed and built by Kaelie’s father
  • Round mirror: inherited
  • Wall accoutrements: collected over the years from antique stores, the frames have all been thrifted
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Indoor/outdoor grass: remnant from Lowe’s
  • Rope lights: salvaged from Kaelie’s parents’ trash pile after they switched to LED Christmas lights
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Couch: inherited
  • Computer table: designed and built by Kaelie’s father
  • “Dumbledore’s Chair”: Salvation Army
  • Dart cabinet: designed and built by Kaelie’s father
  • Devil chair: Allegan Antique Fair
  • Swag lamps: eBay, antique stores, and Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
  • Cabinet with lion handles: designed and built by Kaelie and Andrew
  • Desk: inherited
  • Art: antique stores, inherited, and Wanderer illustration by Scott Wygmans
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)


  • Rug: DIY (crocheted by Kaelie out of clothesline rope from Meijer)
  • Laps: eBay, thrift store
  • Dresser: antique store
  • Chair: Goodwill
  • Plant shelf: Target
  • Plant hanger: macraméd by Kaelie’s mother
  • Throw pillows: DIY (from old shirts!)
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)

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    Thanks, Kaelie and Andrew!

    And thank you to Tyler for referring me to Kaelie and Andrew.