Liz’s Well-Edited Half of a Durham Duplex

updated Mar 11, 2020
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Name: Liz
Location: Old West neighborhood — Durham, North Carolina
Size: , 590 square feet — 1 bedroom
Years lived in: 6 months — rented

When faced with a move from a 1,000 square foot house to an apartment nearly half the size — and over a thousand miles away — Liz took the opportunity to pare down her collection of vintage and thrifted possessions (as seen in House Call: Liz’s Durham Digs). Her skillful editing has resulted in a home that is interesting but clutter-free and put-together but comfortable.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The move also was a big shift for Liz in that she went from homeowner back to renter, meaning she has had to work with things such as her “unpaintable” white walls. Her keen eye has allowed her to make the most of these challenges: she has created order with a smart layout, cohesion with color, and airiness with white curtains and lots of paper lanterns.

Liz, of course, is the best person to describe her home and style:

The first time I visited Durham, I had two and a half days to find a place to live. It was Easter weekend and pickings were slim. This duplex was the last place I looked at — it was a Craigslist longshot that turned out to be cleaner, cheaper and closer to all of Durham’s “good stuff,” and I wrote a deposit check that night.

It’s situated just behind 9th Street, Duke’s eclectic campus corner, and a mile or two from a revitalized (but not too revitalized) downtown.

I love any excuse to edit and purge my stuff, and downsizing to a space almost half the size of my house was probably more exciting than I should admit. Most of my furniture was found over a few years of obsessively combing Craigslist and thrift stores, but I’m not above throwing in some Urban Outfitters (see: my couch. Solid wood and half-off? HELL yes.) or IKEA to keep it affordable and interesting. Even though I had started to buy more quality stuff, and amass some pretty unique older pieces, it was refreshing to have to reevaluate everything again.

I think this place is still my style, but distilled. The duplex is very efficient — no hallways, no awkward nooks. And the size has pushed all my stuff together more, where I would’ve naturally spread it apart, making everything a bit cozier (in a good way).

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

How would you define your style? Mid-Century Comfortable. I love the lines of MCM stuff but realize that sometimes it works better as sculpture than actual furniture.

Inspiration: Homes that look stylish but accessible at the same time — I want to be inspired visually, but also get the sense that real humans live there, humans who maybe put their feet up on the coffee table once in a while, or don’t use coasters, or are too lazy to oil the scuffs out of their wood furniture (<- me).

Favorite Element: The furniture I’ve collected over the years. It’s all about the hunt.

Biggest Challenge: The usual renter stuff — unpaintable off-white walls, unremovable and awkward built-ins, etc. Though, I loved working around these elements, as well.

What Friends Say: That they hope I don’t die suddenly, but if I did, could they have first dibs on my chairs?

Biggest Embarrassment: The fact that I don’t own it. The transition from owner back to renter was strange but well worth it.

Proudest DIY: While I have insane amounts of respect and envy for those who can DIY, I’m more of a curator than a fixer-upper.

Biggest Indulgence: Getting rid of (donating or selling) perfectly nice old furniture when something more interesting/useful/perfect/pointy-legged comes along.

Best Advice: Constantly re-evaluate. Creating a home is one of those journey-vs.-destination things — you’ll hopefully never be done, so you might as well enjoy the process.

Other Inspiration: Anthropomorphism, packing suitcases, mixing high and low

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


    • Theater seats, turntable cabinet: Second Home Furniture in Norman, Oklahoma
    • Couch: Urban Outfitters
    • Coffee table, bedroom dresser, kitchen cart: IKEA
    • Desk, dining table: Bill’s Used Furniture in Norman, Oklahoma
    • Club chairs, dining chairs, bedroom credenza: Oklahoma City Craigslist
    • Bed: Walmart
    • Bedroom side table: Goodwill

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Liz!

Images: Liz Fabry

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