This Renter Convinced Her Landlord to Remodel and the Result is a Modern and Stylish Apartment

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Name: Heidi Rolf, Claude the 20-year-old curmudgeonly chinchilla and Bellatrix (5) the sultry, screamy, long-haired black cat
Location: Akron, Ohio
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 8 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I absolutely love my home. I’ve spent many years transforming the space on my own and with my landlord’s help to make it a safe space to work, rest, and decompress—as well as a space to entertain (I love having themed cocktail parties, i.e. “Stranger Things,” “Glow,” etc). When I first moved in I was 22 and all my furniture and belongings came from my childhood room, dead relatives, or the literal trash. I loved working within the limitations of what was available to me, but fast forward five years and I realized I didn’t like anything I had done anymore. It was fine, and it was cozy but it wasn’t really me. I said to myself, “you’re a grown ass adult with a job, you can buy things!” So I did. For the next two years I invested in furniture I’d keep for the long run, donating all my old pieces as much as possible. I mapped everything out using InDesign, browsed dozens of sites until I was sure I found the right items, looked at probably thousands of rugs, and then somehow convinced my landlord to remodel for me.

My kitchen and dining room were dark and they were small separate rooms, but we talked about it and decided to update it by knocking down a wall and getting new cabinets and refinishing the floors and painting. It completely transformed my space into a very open floor plan, far better for parties and just living in general. I was very lucky to have his investment—and trust—because he also let me design the remodel. The unit also has great bones. I’m in a small building with only six units, and I have three outside walls, which makes it feel more like a house. It’s two-bedroom, two-full bath, with hardwood floors. I have one of those fully pink-tiled vintage bathrooms that I really love. There’s tons of natural light too. It’s the best. I’ve lived here long enough to slowly accumulate apartment mates that are all my friends. I often lament that some network hasn’t picked us up at a sitcom.

My only actual roommates are Bellatrix Lestrange the Wizard Kitten, and Claude. Bellatrix is a 6-year-old old rescue black, long-hair domestic cat. She spends her time in the apartment flopping around, screaming dramatically, and attempting to destroy my grownup furniture (this is why we can’t have nice things Bellatrix). Claude is a 20-year-old Chinchilla who semi-recently retired to a custom built mid century modern cage that he in no way appreciates. I got him when he was 12, and am his fourth owner. He is cantankerous and squawks a great deal.

My style is modern with some quirk here and there to it. All the rooms are painted white or gray but then have pops of bright colors. There are tons of blankets and pillows, because while I wanted a clean bright space I still wanted it to be cozy. I try to only keep what I will use, and have designed the space to be very functional so that it’s easy to use the things I have.

What is your favorite room and why? Probably the main living space, which consists of the kitchen/dining room/living room. This is where we remodeled. I love it because I got to pick everything out and make it exactly how I wanted. There are lots of big windows, natural light, and I love being able to be working in the kitchen but still talk to anyone visiting, or watch a dumb movie while I’m doing so. I have accumulated a lot of art that I really love looking at as well. It feels like an extension of my brain. It’s very restful to be in this space.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I believe the last big deal thing I bought for my space was my coffee table. I use it to store all my color-coordinated weights and my favorite illustrated books. I also always sit on the floor and eat at my coffee table.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Modern-eclectic, cozy, airy.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Take your time curating pieces that you really are going to love. Don’t rush in a desire to get everything settled right away (like I did in the beginning). Also be practical, don’t get furniture your pets will destroy. Create a space that can really be lived in.