Theresa's Tiny Treetop Apartment

Theresa's Tiny Treetop Apartment

Jason Loper
Oct 11, 2010

Name: Theresa dela Vega
Location: Roscoe Village — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 525 square feet
Years lived in: 1½ — rented

We first got a glimpse of Theresa's little apartment when she submitted photos to the 2010 Small Cool contest. That was back in April and Theresa has made a number of changes since then. These changes have helped Theresa take her designs up a notch and also make more use of her limited space.

Theresa's apartment is a little one bedroom unit on the second floor of a storefront building. One of the first little quirky features I loved about it was the step up into the apartment at the front door. Inside, Theresa is working with a limited 550 square feet — of which she has made tremendous use. The main room is nicely divided to include a living space and also a dining area. (You may have seen the post about Theresa's sweater upholstered dining chairs over at Re-Nest.)

The reupholstered dining chairs are just one of the many thrifty tricks Theresa used to decorate her apartment. An old sofa is refreshed with a patterned fabric and wallpaper scraps transformed a bland coat rack and light switch plate. Theresa's apartment is a great lesson that cute, livable design can be achieved on a very limited budget.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Old school vs. New School with a touch of Hello Kitty.

Inspiration: hands down! I'm really glad a former colleague (thanks Leah!) introduced me to the site. I would also say my mom — every time I go over to her house the basement has been rearranged, like mother like daughter.

Favorite Element: As far as the apartment itself, I really enjoy the natural lighting. As far as favorite furnishings, I found a glass top table at a garage sale that stores my board games as well as displays my fun photo booth pictures.

Biggest Challenge: Bike storage, I used to prop my bike upside down on a bookcase and I've thought about hooks on the ceiling but I rent and I'm short so that wouldn't work. Now I just embrace the display of a bike in my bedroom.

What Friends Say: "What's different about your place?"

Biggest Embarrassment: My bathroom — the cracked tile floor, the mismatched knobs under the sink, the toilet paper holder fixture that I have to hide with a shelving unit.

Proudest DIY: I refinished a dresser that I had as a kid. I sanded, spray-painted and put new knobs on the dresser. This was my first sanding/paint job and was so pleased that I was excited to start on more projects. I recently rearranged my room though so the dresser is no longer on display but is now in my closet.

Biggest Indulgence: I own 2 pieces of original art purchased from the tenant that lived in the same unit prior to me.

Best Advice: Think outside of the box, use what you already have and be resourceful, repurposing things puts a fresh spin on things.

Dream Sources: A warehouse of vintage gems from all my favorite thrift stores.

Resources of Note:


  • Kurt Halsey

  • OrangeBeautiful

  • DIY- recycled images from calendars


  • garage sales

  • estate sales

  • thrift stores

  • craigslist

  • hand-me-downs

Thanks, Theresa!

Images: Jason Loper

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