A Rental Home’s Tiny Bathroom Shows the Power of a Cheery Shower Curtain

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Some of my all-time favorite furniture pieces. My couch and coffee table are both from the 1960s, and came from a furniture resale store back home in Michigan. My Herman Miller Eames chair was a recent Facebook Marketplace find. I had wanted one forever and couldn't pass up a good deal on this orange beauty!

Name: Elizabeth Pattyn and one female roommate
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Type of home: Apartment
Size: About 900 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I have lived in Boston for about six years now, but moved into this two-bedroom apartment when I first started grad school two years ago (I’m studying theatrical set design, and am looking to graduate this May!). This has been the first apartment I’ve fully decorated myself, which luckily my roommate (another grad student who I met through a Facebook housing group) doesn’t seem to mind at all.

We had a pair of these mid-century chairs in my house growing up, and my parents let me take this one with me when I moved into my apartment. So aside from being very comfortable, it also has sentimental value.

I don’t know much about the history of my apartment, but it is an older building, so it definitely has some quirky architectural features. Although there are certain things I wish I could change (odd door placements and “boob lights” galore), it also has some beautiful moldings and hardwood floors that ultimately sold me on the place.

My bedroom also doubles as a workspace, and I'm glad to have enough space for both. My desk was a hand-me-down from my older brother, but I changed out the drawer pulls to fit in a bit more with my other decor. I also drew the birds framed above my bed...sometimes you just need some cheap, DIY artwork!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Colorful, mid-century modern, Bohemian

After much searching, I found a bookshelf that fits perfectly in this tiny hallway alcove. It's a great place to style pretty books and trinkets, and adds some much needed color to the space.

What is your favorite room and why? Though I am honestly very pleased with every room in my apartment, I think that the living room is probably my favorite. It includes some of my most prized mid-century modern pieces, and definitely sets the tone for the apartment when you first walk in. It functions well as a comfortable space to relax after a long day, and also a welcoming spot entertain friends on occasion.

The living room is what you see upon entering my apartment. There's my new DIY-framed print above my television. I've been collecting furniture and home decor since high school, and found that mid-century cabinet (that I now use as a TV stand/media console) at an estate sale back in the day for only $50.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I found a large-scale print of a 1930s photograph on Etsy that I thought would make a wonderful statement piece above my TV. The print only cost me about $35, but I didn’t have the money to afford custom framing. Instead, I picked up an old frame at the thrift store, spray painted it gold, and cut a mat myself to fit inside. The project took me a full afternoon to complete, but it was definitely worth it in the end!

Switching out the artwork on my kitchen wall grid is a fun and easy way to change up the space. The vintage Costco cart was a Facebook Marketplace find--it works perfectly for extra storage in this small space.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My biggest tips would be to shop secondhand and invest in quality where you can, so as to keep cheap, “disposable” furniture out of the landfill. Over the years I have definitely learned to value sturdy, well-made pieces that I love and will last me many years to come. Some of my best finds have come from estate sales, thrift stores, and Facebook Marketplace for very reasonable prices, so quality pieces can certainly be affordable on a student budget if you take the extra time to look around.

Though my bathroom is quite small, I still wanted to give it a fun pop of color and pattern. I know that this shower curtain is a favorite here on Apartment Therapy! I also changed out an outdated handle on my under-sink cabinet for a sleek, gold style. Such a small, easy change really makes a huge difference.

Otherwise, I think that it’s also important for a home to reflect one’s own style and personality. I really don’t pay much attention to trends, and simply decorate with pieces that catch my eye and bring me joy. Don’t feel that you must conform to a single design aesthetic—have fun mixing and matching decor from a variety of styles and eras to create something personal and one of a kind!

I have significantly downsized my collection of small decor pieces over the past year or two. Curating objects on display really gives each piece room to breathe and be appreciated.

This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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