A Small Rental Apartment Is a Great Example of Styling Vintage Finds (and the Mini Backyard Is Precious)

published Sep 8, 2020

A Small Rental Apartment Is a Great Example of Styling Vintage Finds (and the Mini Backyard Is Precious)

published Sep 8, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Ryan and Emily Smith
Location: South Yarra — Victoria, Australia
Size: 969 square feet
Years lived in: 12 years, renting

Ryan and Emily (plus cute dog Eve) are a creative couple that have created a vintage-style home in their two-bedroom rental, which is situated in a quiet pocket of inner-city Melbourne above a business. Emily is a toy designer, while Ryan has taken a year off to study and work on his vintage clothing store, Buffalo James, on the side.

House tour cover

Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox

Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter

Their apartment is filled with treasures and trinkets they’ve collected over the years, from a shared love of travel and flea market and vintage finds. Larger, modern furniture was chosen to suit the space and also to accommodate their dachshund Eve—such as the comfy low couch in the living room and their low-lying bed.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A road trip from Mexico, up through Southwest Texas, through the Nevada desert, stopping off in Palm Springs, and Anaheim before jumping a plane to Hawaii. 

Inspiration: Our travels across the USA. We’ve stayed at so many different places, from boutique hotels and people’s unique Airbnbs to spaces in the desert and kitschy side-of-the-road motels. We like to bring a piece of all our adventures home with us, and live amongst these memories.

Favorite Element: The various prints around the apartment—all either collected in our travels, family heirlooms, flea market finds, or gifts from friends.

Biggest Challenge: Nursing along this old 1920 building, which needs a lot of TLC.

What Friends Say: That they know people who spend thousands of dollars on stylists to achieve this sort of look, so they’re impressed that we’ve built this up over a decade of travelling, thrifting, and collecting.

Biggest Embarrassment: The dents and marks on the walls that we can’t do anything about—but you get that when you rent a century-old building with fragile horse hair plaster!

Proudest DIY: The backyard—cobbled together from cuttings from Emily’s mum’s garden and side-of-the-road finds. They have matured and grown into this hidden pocket we get enjoy throughout the year.

Biggest Indulgence: The enormous, comfy, very-low-to-the-ground-for-our-dachshund couch from Lounge Lovers, which we barely managed to fit up the stairs.

Best Advice: Let your style evolve with your life. We’re constantly adding, changing and revising. Our apartment continues to reflect our inspirations and experiences. Also–hold onto the things that mean a lot to you, whether it’s a souvenir or something handed down from family… to see or use something every day keeps memories alive.

Dream Sources: A year long Route 66 road trip hitting every Savers store in the USA—but with zero shipping costs back to Australia.



  • Credenza — Vintage, from Chapel Street Bazaar
  • Haunted Mansion print from Disneyland (in thrifted, sprayed frame)
  • José Guadalupe Posada print — From National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, IL.
  • Mirror — Kmart
  • Steamboat Willie Lego
  • Other items on/above credenza thrifted on our travels
  • Couch — Lounge Lovers
  • Armchair — Moran (family heirloom)
  • Large print — 1968 map of Disneyland bought at a flea market 20 years ago
  • Print above armchair — Original “The Nymph” by JH Lynch (family heirloom)
  • TV stand — IKEA
  • TV — Samsung ‘The Frame’
  • TV Speakers — Kanto YU6
  • Coffee table — Made by Ryan
  • Skull cushion — Made by Emily
  • IKEA cushions, thrifted pots etc.
  • Shelves — Bunnings
  • Record player and system — Built with various bits from Emily’s Grandpa, Gumtree, and Hi Fi Exchange, Clifton Hill
  • Marshall speaker from Myer


  • Black chest — Family heirloom – Ryan’s grandparents brought their things to Australia from Holland on a ship in this trunk
  • “Weird Weird Weird West” Print — Carolos Hernandez/Burning Bones Press, bought at Spare Parts Ranch Candy in Marfa, TX)
  • Bulbs print — Natalie Jeffcott, a gift for our engagement
  • Watercolour painting of Eve by our friend and wedding photographer Elissa R Photography (Houston, TX)



  • Hearts, crucifixes, framed photo and horse show — Bought on our travels through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
  • Kokedama — Bunnings
  • Hanging fern — Freedom, basket thrifted 
  • All items and pots on shelves behind the door thrifted, except the Cars sugar skull from Disneyland
  • Record collection was Ryan’s dad’s, passed down to him.


  • Desk — Old door and trestle legs made by Emily’s late father
  • Rug — Ishka
  • Chair — Saarinen Executive Chair, Salvation Army (SCORE!)
  • Lamp — IKEA
  • Print —  The Night Sky which is a map of the sky of Marfa, TX – we had a photo shoot with Elissa R Photography the night before our wedding; the photo came out amazing so we got the night sky print of that night.
  • Toy guitar — Mattel (from Pixar’s Coco)
  • Vintage clothes and Sheriff Woody toys all thrifted


  • Fire — Decofire ‘Milano’ gas fire pit
  • Gray tiles — IKEA
  • Chairs — Bought at tip shop in Goolwa, South Australia

Thanks Ryan and Emily!

Share Your Style: