Live in a city apartment? Chances are, you鈥檝e got a few spaces that you don鈥檛 quite know what to do with. They鈥檙e definitely not closets, and they seem like rooms鈥 but still, something鈥檚 off. We all have them, and I鈥檓 excited to share how I transformed two of mine into cozy, colorful spaces for hanging out.


Just two months ago, we kicked off a brand new series in partnership with Lowe鈥檚 that centers around an apartment makeover. *MY* apartment makeover, to be exact. Now we鈥檙e in the home stretch 鈥 the final countdown 鈥 and I couldn鈥檛 be more excited about the results thus far. (P.S. You can check out my inspo process by following my Pinterest board.) Today, we鈥檒l tackle the den and the 鈥減orch.鈥 I鈥檒l refer to it as a porch throughout this post, but let鈥檚 be real 鈥 it鈥檚 a glorified platform that happens to be attached to my apartment. These final two pieces of the puzzle show how just a few easy steps and coordinated style notes can truly transform even the smallest of spaces.

If you鈥檝e been following the series, than you know that my husband David and I have a thing for all things blue, green and teal, and love finding ways to bring the outdoors in. Five years ago, we decided to leave New York for San Francisco, specifically in search of a city that celebrates the natural beauty that surrounds it. So, when we found an apartment with a porch that opens onto a small den that leads into the kitchen, we were SOLD. Or whatever the equivalent of 鈥渟old鈥 is in renter鈥檚 terms ;) The thing is, the porch door opens into the apartment, making it difficult to figure out what to do with this little amount of space.


Follow along to see how a few small style moves totally transformed these two tiny spaces.



First thing鈥檚 first: You need to define your space, and decide what you want to make out of it. If it needs to be a space for storage, make it that way. If you love the idea of having a cozy TV-less nook that鈥檚 separate from the living room, do that. If you get a dog, you鈥檙e going to need a place for his stuff as well. For us, we wanted all three of those things in one 鈥 and we wanted to be able to leave the door open on nice days. Oh, and this room is basically an extension of the kitchen, so that needed to be taken into account as well. We took the color of the dining chairs and found the closest paint shade possible for the walls, then riffed off of that color to bring the rest of the room together in a coordinated way.


1. Paint the wall. As you can see in the before and after shot above, the move that packs the biggest punch is painting those beige walls. We used a deep teal from Lowe鈥檚 HGTV HOME鈩 by Sherwin-Williams paint collection (specifically GS 20 Intense Teal SW 6943).


2. Update your lighting. I鈥檝e always hated the light that this room came with 鈥 in fact, I think it made me want to be in the room less because I didn鈥檛 love the vibe. On our first inspo trip to Lowe鈥檚, we came across an awesome collection of vintage-inspired lighting by allen + roth, including this mini pendant light. The hammered quality on the glass makes the light these give off slightly dappled, which adds warmth to the room.


If you can鈥檛 update the lighting that鈥檚 hard-wired into your apartment, consider adding string lights. A strand or two of these babies is an easy to warm up the vibe of a room without having to contact an electrician.


3. Choose larger statement pieces as decor. It may seem counter intuitive, but large pieces of art or decor can actually make a small room or space feel larger. Behind the couch, we hung up a tapestry I found in India more than 10 years ago. It actually hung in my college bedroom senior year, and I rediscovered it at my parents鈥 house this past Christmas. I knew it would go perfectly with the color palette of our apartment. We also found this pair of vintage wooden skis at Alameda flea market. They鈥檝e been leaning against the wall of this room for about three years 鈥 now they鈥檙e finally on the wall! Gotta love mixing the old with the new.


4. Coordinate your textiles. Since the centerpiece of this room is a GIANT textile, it鈥檚 important to coordinate all your pieces. We found a mix of blue, green and white throw pillows to add to the mix, as well as this cozy throw from Lowe鈥檚.


5. Patterned rugs FTW. It鈥檚 hard to get away with a bold graphic pattern in a large room, but it does a great job of anchoring the space in a small room. Plus, how awesome is the pattern on this wooly graphic black and white rug? I love it! And Turkey does too.


6. Be smart about storage. Because of the door in the middle of the room and heater on the left side (you can see it peeking out in the photo above), we鈥檙e somewhat limited in the storage department. A dresser is a great way to organize more than just clothes 鈥 this one houses table linens, paper plates and napkins, extra bike parts and odds and ends that belong to our pup, Turkey. We鈥檝e also designated a zone on the top of the dresser for the dog-related things we need to access on the daily.


7. Add shelving. If the dresser doesn鈥檛 quite house everything, add a wall-mounted shelf. It鈥檚 a great addition to a cozy corner!


8. Bring the outdoors in. If you鈥檝e got a door you can open, open it and literally bring the outdoors in. Since this door opens into the room, we chose to use a lightweight bench as our coffee table. It鈥檚 super easy to move when we want to open the door, which conveniently brings us to the outdoor portion of this home transformation ;)



So, you signed a lease for an apartment that boasts outdoor space. And guess what? That sun-drenched porch would be better described as a landing or a glorified balcony. Well, fear not 鈥 we鈥檙e going to show you a few simple ways to breathe life into what little outdoor space you have.


It鈥檚 a little unfair that the before shot was taken on an overcast day and the after shot on a sunny one, but hey 鈥 weather鈥檚 weather, and this updated porch is a whole lot brighter! When it comes to outdoor space, it鈥檚 tough to update when you鈥檙e a renter because you can鈥檛 refinish the wood or add anything permanent. So, this is all about adding pops of color and styling your little heart out.


1. Make brightly-colored planter boxes. You need to figure out how exactly you鈥檙e going to add color to your space. Because I鈥檓 a renter and our porch was built with unfinished wood, painting the actual porch was not a possibility. We had to figure out how to add pops of color without making any permanent changes. Planter boxes to the rescue! We created boxes that would work atop a porch railing, hanging off the edge of the balcony or in a window. Check out the video below to see how it鈥檚 done.

wood cut to desired size

鈥 sanding block

鈥 paint brushes

鈥 paint

鈥 drill

鈥 screwdriver

鈥 flowers



1. Figure out what size window boxes you have space for. Get each piece cut to size at Lowe鈥檚. You鈥檒l need four long rectangles and two small squares for each box.

2. Sand all pieces of wood.

3. Grab three long rectangles of wood and drill holes that are a 陆 inch each from all four corners of the wood. That鈥檚 four holes per piece. When drilling, place a buffer piece of wood underneath, so you don鈥檛 damage your work surface.

4. Use a drill or screwdriver and screws to attach the long pieces of wood to the short, thick end pieces. Leave a gap at the top of the box so you can slide the base piece in.

5. Once you鈥檝e screwed in the wood to make the perimeter of the box, slide in the bottom piece and screw down into the thick ends of the box.

6. Drill four holes in the base piece of wood for draining.

7. Paint with your favorite colors using outdoor paint.

For paint, we used a few colors from Lowe鈥檚 HGTV HOME鈩 by Sherwin-Williams collection: FF 07 Tame Teal SW 6757; FF 16 Jay Blue; GS 20 Intense Teal SW 6943; and FF 09 Amaryllis SW 6591.


We love how they look sitting right on top of the railing, especially against that bright blue sky.


You can also use these plant hooks to hang your planter boxes off a railing, window or balcony.


2. Turn barstools and a tray into a caf茅 for two. That鈥檚 right: We鈥檙e going to turn this little landing into a picturesque perch for a morning cup of tea, afternoon Arnold Palmer or early evening cocktail. Because the space is so small and narrow, actual chairs and tables won鈥檛 do the trick. We used three bar stools 鈥 two small wooden ones at a slightly lower height than the bright yellow metal one in the middle.


Top the yellow stool with a tray, and boom 鈥 a caf茅 table is born. A sweet little breakfast scene, coming soon to an Instagram near you.


3. Add large potted plants. Considering we have tons of leafy potted plants in every room, of course we鈥檝e got some grade-A leafy lovelies on the porch. We found these super lightweight large resin planters at Lowe鈥檚, and used Rust-Oleum spray paint to paint them colors that coordinate with the space. It鈥檚 no secret that rain has not been showing up around these parts. If you鈥檙e a California dweller, it鈥檚 important to remember to water your plants 鈥 even the outdoor ones. We stocked up on a couple of old fashioned watering cans, available in silver, red and green.


We also recommend considering cacti and succulents instead of water-hungry plants. They look just as lovely and happen to be drought-friendly.


4. Choose an unusual doormat. Is it weird to swoon over a doormat? Yes. The answer is yes 鈥 but it鈥檚 okay. I accept my truth. I love this allen + roth semicircle doormat. Its shape makes me think of sunshine and rainbows, and who doesn鈥檛 love those things? It鈥檚 a perfect accent for a sunny outdoor space.


And there you have it: two rooms totally transformed with just a few small but impactful changes. Three cheers for coordinating color palettes, patterned textiles and sunny afternoons.

This post is a collaboration with Lowe鈥檚.

Styling + DIY Production: Anjelika Temple, Kelly Bryden, Brittany Griffin
Photography: Chris Andre