This Rental Apartment’s Vintage Mint Green Kitchen Is Only One of the Amazing Finishes Within

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Credit: Erin Kelly
The dining room is the heart of my home. Almost everything in this room is vintage, so it's full of character. It's also the room that brings me the most joy because I frequently host brunches and dinners and fill my home with life.

Name: Quelcy Kogel and my dog, Julep
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 1,575 square feet
Years living in: 10 years, renting

Credit: Erin Kelly
My dream kitchen falls more into the Shaker style, but I embraced the vintage cabinets and sink in my rental and matched them with minty green paint and vintage kitchen accents.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My apartment was listed for rent as a “handyman special,” meaning it was cheap, there was a lot of space, and barring anything structural, I could do whatever I wanted to it. It also meant there were a lot of “quirks” that most renters probably would not touch with a ten-foot pole. I, however, fell in love with the tall ceilings, the natural light, and the window views. I ripped out carpets and ceiling tiles, chipped away layers of paint to reveal original wood and tile, painted every other surface, and made it truly my own.

Credit: Erin Kelly
The corner of the bedroom features a large Anthropologie mural. I have the floor cushion for my meditation practice, but let's be real, it's really Julep's corner.

My home very much feels like a reflection of me, and I love watching new guests take in my collections and see what sparks their curiosity. I live here with my furry kitchen assistant, Julep, a seven-year-old Australian Shepherd Lab mix who makes this place truly feel like home. This apartment has been the backdrop to so many milestones in my life, including the opportunity to write and style my first cookbook, “The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook.” The heart of the book is cooking and baking for others, and preparing gluten-free recipes is a way to make a more inclusive menu. We shot many of the scenes here, including the dessert spread in my bedroom because the wall textures and light were so good.

Beyond the book and my blog (With The Grains), cooking and baking for others is a big part of my “why.” The size of this apartment enables me to collect the vintage pieces and props I use in my work as a food and prop stylist, but it also enables me to put those pieces to good use. I love styling my table differently every time, and I love the connections that have emerged around my weathered, wooden table.

Credit: Erin Kelly
I can't imagine this home without Julep. She knows my routines and accompanies me from room to room, then nestles into a nap.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Like Mary Poppin’s Carpet Bag

Credit: Erin Kelly
I'm a sucker for old books but vowed to start using them or passing them onto better homes (ie: donation). The dining room mantle features a collage I made from a book of pastoral and urban French scenes, all in black and white. It's fun to gaze at a scene and live vicariously while drinking wine or eating a croissant.

What is your favorite room and why? The dining room is the heart of my home. I love the deep wine-colored accent paint and the chipped, layered decay of the original (to me) walls. What I love most of all is hosting people and bringing my home to life with a beautiful table, a thoughtful menu, and refills of coffee and champagne. Julep always assumes her position under the table in case anyone drops a bit of brunch.

Credit: Erin Kelly
In the fall and winter leading up to the pandemic, I spent a lot of time clearing my home of excess, so that it truly does bring me joy. The biggest investment and update was this green, velvet sectional. When the orders hit to shelter in place, I was so grateful for this comforting space.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last addition to my home was a BIG one, both in terms of investment and scale. After much research, I purchased the Denver L-Shaped Sectional in Emerald Green Velvet from the newly opened Anthropologie Home Outlet. My previous couch had cost $20 (!) at a flea market and had matched my “Belgian Waffle” yellow walls perfectly. I loved it, but after ten years, the wear and tear took a toll, and I was ready for a different look for both the couch and the walls. Admittedly, I was a little emotional when the movers carried it away to donate it, but I said a thank you and hoped it would serve someone else as well as it had served me. Being cocooned by green, velvet was an affirming consolation.

Credit: Erin Kelly

More vintage details in the kitchen. The work table and chairs were flea market finds.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I like to evaluate home in terms of, “is this [object, opportunity, relationship, etc.] a ‘hell yeah!’ or a ‘hell no?’” In this way, I can protect my energy for what truly brings me joy and fulfills my purpose. It may start with a forest green, velvet sectional, but this philosophy extends to life and makes strides toward sustainability, too. If we truly respect the objects we amass, we desire for them to be valued. This means investing in more quality pieces that will grow with us, not buying into trends for trends’ sake. For my style, that means aged, vintage pieces. I debated newer coffee tables, but my gut landed on paying a little more for an antique wooden trunk from Rustfarm (via Etsy).

Credit: Erin Kelly
This is the bedroom, and the view I see when I wake up in the morning. This is my maximalist attempt at minimalism. The bright and open nature of the space helps keep me calm.

Picking up the trunk led to a beautiful exchange, a shared appreciation, and a piece that brings me joy every time I use it. (It helped that the owner had two Aussies. Herding dogs always bring me joy.) Valuing objects also means releasing them to someone who will value them rather than hoarding them in an unseen corner or trashing them. I’m a huge proponent of Goodwill and feel so fortunate to have a resource in Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, which was a daily errand for me this past fall and winter. In short, buy less, buy better, and always buy for you, not who you think you should be.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.