A Couple’s Simple Apartment Shows How Warm and Cozy Small Living Can Be

A Couple’s Simple Apartment Shows How Warm and Cozy Small Living Can Be

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Name: Allison, my girlfriend Laura, and our cat Rhiannon
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Size: About 400 square feet
Years Lived In: 8 months, renting

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After living in a number of rentals over the course of our early twenties, my girlfriend, Laura, and I were looking for a space we could call home for more than a year. Aside from the hassles of moving we were ready to have a space to really make our own without the compromise that comes from college living or sharing with  roommates. We landed our space in April last year and moved in, in September and have signed on for another year already.

Our space is small but mighty and in the eight short months we’ve called it home we’ve painted the bedroom, installed some custom shelving, and our cat has napped on every surface. Though my project-focused mind is dreaming of a day where I can retile a bathroom or replace old laminate countertop, our rental is perfect for what we need.

“Our small home has allowed us to purge the unnecessary from our closet and come up with unique ways to use our living space that allows it to be multi-functional without appearing chaotic.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy, collector, simple

Inspiration: Countless hours of scrolling through house tours like this one, oh and of course our old faithful, the IKEA catalog.

Favorite Element: My favorite element of the apartment is the simple wooden plant stand that sits in the sun-filled entryway of our living room. As with most great finds it was free, and I found it in the basement of my grandparents’ house, unused. My grandfather gladly let me keep it and it’s been home to many of my thriving plants ever since. I asked my mother about it recently and she says it was in their house growing up in the ’60s and ’70s so I’m happy to have given it a second life.

Biggest Challenge: In the company of many renters in urban centers we have the challenge of making our living room into our living/dining/office/ entryway room. Despite its small footprint I think we’ve done a great job at visually separating the utility of the room while blending those elements together to make it a cohesive and livable space. We’ve hosted guests on our couch and air mattress, thrown a sizable birthday party, and continue to work, eat, and take a nap or two in this little space so it’s really served us well.

Proudest DIY: The shelf above the headboard is not a massive feat in design or installation but it has added a lot to the bedroom. The bedroom also features much less attractive brown carpet that can’t be removed so by painting the room white and adding the shelf to bring the eye up (or at least that’s what HGTV told me) we’ve brightened up the room a ton. Plus, shelves are versatile and can change whenever you want, and it hasn’t fallen on my head in the middle of the night yet so I’d say it’s a success.

Biggest Indulgence: Since our home is still relatively new to us and comprised of a lot of used and IKEA basics, we haven’t splurged too much yet but our couch has seen the wear-and-tear of cat scratches over the years and if I was to indulge in new furniture that would definitely be the piece to replace.

Best Advice: Use your oddities as accessories! The IKEA catalog is a handy tool but is never going to show you a truly personalized home. I feel like this advice has been given again and again but I find the homes that feel coziest and like they have the most personality have those unique items on display, whether it’s a family heirloom or my kinder surprise animal figurines; those touches make your space feel like your own.

What’s your best home secret? Cleaning a little bit throughout the week instead of letting chores pile up. Easier said than done, and honestly I have not perfected this but living in a small multipurpose space has really made me embrace how much effort goes in to keeping it all work.



  • Sofa— Sears (No longer available)
  • GLADOM Side Tables  — IKEA (No longer available in yellow but they carry green and black)
  • VEDBO Armchair — IKEA
  • POANG Armchair — IKEA
  • MOSSLANDA Picture Ledge — IKEA
  • GERSBY Bookshelf — IKEA
  • Ladder Shelf — Mine is from IKEA (who would have guessed) but it is no longer available, here’s a similar one from Wayfair
  • Candle on Mirror — Foxhound Collection
  • Dining Table and Chairs — Kijiji (known as the Canadian Craigslist; the table is IKEA but I bought it used, the chairs were upholstered by the previous owner and thrown in for free when I went to pick up the table!)


Thanks Allison and Laura!

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