Laura’s Heritage Hill Menagerie

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Name: Laura
Location: Heritage Hill; Grand Rapids, Michigan
Size: 768 square feet
Years lived in: 8.5 years; Rented

Laura lives in a 102-unit apartment complex in Heritage Hill, the historic district east of Downtown Grand Rapids. Her two-bedroom rental is filled with plants, colors and animals. Guests will discover tiny deer in a winter-themed wreath, wall-mounted heads of a rhino and giraffe, lots of pugs and even a miniature Brachiosaurus roaming among succulents.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Laura, a dental hygienist by day and illustrator by night, uses her artistic eye to curate the colors and quirky trinkets throughout her home. I’ve known her for many years and have witnessed the evolution of her interior design style. And over time, her DIY projects and styling have become more and more clever.

Laura has reupholstered furniture and sewn new pillow covers (with nature motifs to relate nicely to the plants throughout her home). Wine glasses and birch tree limbs are transformed into candleholders. Mason jars are filled with snowy landscapes. A hand-me-down media stand is updated with hand-painted gold chevrons.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Urban eclectic with natural and thrifty DIY elements. I like mixing my space with pops of color and patterns. My style has really evolved over time — from college dorm chic to what it is now. I love changing up the look of my place, so I never get bored.

Inspiration: Anthropologie, Pinterest, design magazines, nature, mid-century modern, vintage.

Favorite Element: All of my plants. They really add life to my place, especially in the winter months. I don’t have a green thumb per se, so it has taken some trial and error in finding plants that can thrive. I’ve found succulents to be pretty easy.

Biggest Challenge: Not having enough storage space or a walk-in closet. Also, my kitchen is really small with barely any counter space, which can be challenging when cooking with lots of ingredients.

What Friends Say: The space is creative, cozy, and has a lot of great little touches. They love how my home looks a little different every time they visit.

Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen. I can’t change the look because it’s a rental, but the linoleum floor and counters are very dated. Whenever I clean the floor, it still looks dirty! Plus the edges of the floor and counter are peeling.

Proudest DIY: The chair in my bedroom. I reupholstered the cushions with a brighter color fabric. The previous cushions were a lovely 1970s orange and mustard. That was my biggest sewing project.

Biggest Indulgence: I’ve had a couple of roommates in previous years, but now I have the second bedroom to use as I please. Currently, it is my studio/office. It is so much nicer having an extra room for my desks.

Best Advice: Make your home a place you love coming home to. It should reflect who you are and it should have character. Designing your home won’t necessarily happen overnight — it took me about eight years to get my place to where I am really pleased and happy with it. So, be patient.

Dream Sources: Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, CB2, Room & Board, West Elm and IKEA.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Resources of Note:


  • Silver deer mounted head: HomeGoods
  • Framed Art prints: Target and DIY
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Wreath: DIY

  • Mirror: Michaels
  • Bookcase: Target
  • DVD case: Target
  • TV stand: Inherited with updated DIY design
  • Navy love seat couch: IKEA (bought from moving sale)
  • Lamps: Target and IKEA
  • Futon: Inherited
  • Coffee table: Inherited with DIY table runner
  • Pillows: Target, IKEA, DIY with IKEA fabric, UBU
  • Chair and ottoman: Meijer
  • Mini animal heads: DIY
  • Canvas art: Urban Outfitters
  • Side tables: IKEA
  • Faux fur blanket: Target
  • Clock: Target
  • Rug: Target
  • Mason jar globes: DIY

  • Dining room table: Inherited
  • Table runner: Target
  • Cabinet: Thrift store
  • Paper mache animal heads: Anthropologie
  • Bar cart: IKEA
  • Clock: Target

  • Kitchen shelf unit: Target
  • Dog canvas print: Christmas Tree Shops
  • Cookie jars: Target
  • Shelf: Target
  • Microwave stand: Target

  • Bed: Inherited
  • Bedding: IKEA
  • Dresser: Inherited
  • Mid-century mod chair: Inherited
  • Pillow: Target
  • Frame collage: Thrift store
  • Lamp: Target

  • Desk: Target
  • Office chairs: IKEA
  • Bookcase: Target
  • Frames and prints: IKEA and Barnes & Noble
  • Pink side table: Target
  • Globe: Target
  • Type writer: Thrift store
  • Horse head: HomeGoods
  • Lamp: IKEA

  • Shelf stand: Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Shower curtain: Target
  • Rugs: Target
  • Mirrors: Target
  • (Image credit: Mike Hetu)

    Thanks, Laura!

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