A Seattle Apartment Shows How to Make a Rental a Personality-Packed Home
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Name: Mackenzie Schieck and cats Franklin and Louisa.
Location: Madrona — Seattle, Washington
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 9 months, renting
If there were ever a year to put extra effort into making my home feel special, this has certainly been the one. Being self-employed, I’m used to working from home, and being home, a lot. (I develop food and lifestyle content—writing, photography, and food and prop styling—and I also do digital marketing writing.) But of course, the pandemic is taking that whole “from home” part to another level. I’d only just moved into this place in November (they tore down the gorgeous building I lived in previously), and I’d hustled and finished all the big decorating early this year. However, I’ve really had the urge to fine tune and make the most of every square foot over the last couple months.
I typically ask a lot of my living room, and it’s taken several furniture arrangements to get it just right, but I think the space accepted my challenges like a real champ. I’m actually surprised by how much room I was able to create behind my gold couch for a reading nook—aka the spot where I listen to podcasts and drink my coffee—and I love that it feels totally separate from the rest of the room. The oversized ottoman, topped with a comforter and pillows, is exactly the right amount of cozy I require for watching TV. And when I’m feeling fancy, I perch on the gold couch. I don’t feel fancy very often, but my cats, Franklin and Louisa, constantly have their fancy pants on.
I’m also high fiving all the apartment gods for securing me a place with an actual deck. That I can see an actual body of water from. This is the first time I’ve had outdoor space since I’ve had my cats, so I really had my heart set on making a catio happen. To do this, I lined the deck railing with trellises and secured them with simple zip ties. Franklin’s been loving a new space to sniff around while Louisa is still lukewarm about it. And with all the plants, it feels like a green little oasis for me. Kinda like the outdoor version of my reading nook! So, while I’m reeeeally looking forward to a time when I can pack my back deck and living room with friends (and their fancy cats, if they want!), I feel pretty lucky to have what I have in the meantime.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I think my style is all the styles, balanced. I love to pair really ornate and flowery things with modern elements, hard textures with soft, solid colors with patterned pieces, and so on and so forth. I don’t like anything all the time or all over, so I tend to mix it up within a space at any one time, as well as over time by swapping things in and out and rearranging furniture.
Inspiration: Lately, it’s all the homes I’ve photographed over the past couple years. I have definitely borrowed elements in my own home from every single tour I’ve done for Apartment Therapy.
Favorite Element: I love my plant-filled reading corner, aka the cozy corner. Also aka the Franklin Forest. My first Christmas with Franklin and Louisa, I discovered Franklin’s deep love of greenery. He basically spent the entire month of December under the Christmas tree, so I knew I’d need to create a little green area for him after I took it down. So, the semi-circle I created with the plants does two things: it creates a separation from the entryway, but also creates a cocoon-ish situation for Franklin—he loves laying on that little black and brown rug, and in the cat bed that’s nestled into the plants. Louisa actually loves that cat bed too—sometimes they have to battle it out.
Biggest Challenge: Getting the furniture arrangement right in the living room. Unless I have other rooms to work with (in my last place, I had two “living”-type rooms), I don’t like a single seating option taking up the entire living room, and it took a few tries to finally figure out how to create that little reading nook in addition to a cozy TV-watching spot, and places for guests to sit and chat.
What Friends Say: I didn’t get the chance to have very many people over before the pandemic hit, but the thing I tend to hear a lot in all my places is, “It just feels good in here.” Which is always exactly what I’m going for.
Biggest Embarrassment: I don’t know if I’d say it’s an embarrassment, but the kitchen floors, cabinets, and countertops aren’t what I’d choose. But, ya know, stuff like that is always a part of renting. I did put up temporary white backsplash “tiles” which made a HUGE difference.
Proudest DIY: The back deck/catio! It ended up being so much easier than I thought to attach the trellises with plastic zip ties. Franklin is super into it (so far, Louisa could take it or leave it), and with all the plants, it feels like a tiny little oasis. Also, I can see Lake Washington from the bistro table, so one of my biggest fantasies has come true: to be able to see water while I drink my morning coffee.
Biggest Indulgence: Plants. I’m getting better about keeping green things alive, but it doesn’t come naturally to me, so it takes a little extra cash here and there to replace ones that go south. It’s so worth it, though. I don’t know how I went so long without realizing how wonderful it is to have plant life in the home. And now I just can’t stop.
Best Advice: Everyone always says this, but it’s because it’s true: be patient and live in your space for a while before you make big purchases so you know how you’re going to use the space first. And don’t be too rigid about what you think you want things to look like. Also, when decorating a room, I always say to start with something you love. It could be a pillow, a painting, a piece of furniture, etc. For me, once I commit to that particular item, I start to come across other things that work with it and build off of it, and the room just starts to take shape. In this apartment, it was my gold couch that started everything.
Dream Sources: Honestly, I feel like I’ve gotten all my newest ideas from all the spaces I’ve seen on Apartment Therapy. And of course, there are a whole bunch of Seattle shops that I’ll do a weekend crawl of when I’m in need of things and inspiration: Fleurt Collective, Anders, Glasswing Shop, RetroFit Home, Prism, Digs—just to name a few.
- Lamps — Target
- Hanging planters — Urban Outfitters and Young Flowers
- Geometric buffet — West Elm
- Gold couch — Wayfair (I have also seen it on Overstock)
- Ottoman — Urban Outfitters
- Small round black table — Urban Outfitters
- All rugs — Target
- Black rectangle ottoman — Target
- Desk (for TV) — Urban Outfitters
- Shelf above TV — Cost Plus World Market
- Temporary wallpaper — Target
- Blanket on gold couch — Anthrpologie
- Round pink pillow — Anthropologie
- Green palms pillow — Fremont Vintage Mall
- Black planter next to kitchen door — The Palm Room
- Oversized ottoman — Couch
- Back cushions on oversized ottoman — Urban Outfitters
- Duvet cover on oversized ottoman — Urban Outfitters
- Pink faux fur pillow — Urban Outfitters
- All art above oversized ottoman (excluding “Spring Dress” art) — Target
- “Spring Dress” art above oversized ottoman — Clare Elsaesser
- Mirror above oversized ottoman — West Elm
- Vintage window — Ballard Reuse
- Turquoise side table — Target
- Small lamp on side table — Cost Plus World Market
- Pyramid cat tree — Wayfair
- Bed linens — Urban Outfitters
- Throw blanket — Urban Outfitters
- Vintage windows — Ballard Reuse
- Chair with white cushion — A friend of my dad’s in college made it
- Curtains & hardware — Anthrpologie
- Flower art next to window — Urban Outfitters
- White macramé plant hanger — Collectanea
- Black plant and pot next to window — West Seattle Nursery
- Gold macramé wall hanging — Collectanea
- Black, white, and gold flower art — Urban Outfitters
- Lamp shade — Cost Plus World Market
- Clothing rack (“S” hooks separate) — Urban Outfitters
- Armoire — Craigslist find
- Cat cubby on top of armoire — Wayfair
- Woven plant stand — EcoVibe
- Geo Abstract art above bed — Angel Walker via Minted
- Pendant above bed — Urban Outfitters
- Mustard chair — Ballard Consignment
- Flower photograph above dresser — Aran Goyoaga
- Dresser — West Elm
- Bedside table — Urban Outfitters
- Full-length mirror — West Elm
- Fan — Vornado