A Room-by-Room Guide to Making Your Apartment Look Like a Grown-Up Lives There
How many times have you said to yourself, this is the year I’m going to finally decorate my apartment? Each year since my husband David and I moved here five years ago, we’ve vowed to reserve a few weekends to actually put art on the walls, figure out where to store our champagne flutes and unpack those last finicky boxes (yes, we really had boxes that hadn’t been unpacked since NY in 2011). But we’ve never found the time. Until now! :)
I’m pleased to report that our “this is the year we finally make our apartment a home” resolution finally happened! Earlier this year, we kicked off a nine-part series in partnership with Lowe’s to transform our dull and drab apartment into a beautifully styled and coordinated space that reflects both of our personalities. Even if you rent (like we do), there are tons of simple, DIY ways to give your space more style without investing too much. Check out the video below to see how the apartment came together, and read on for a room-by-room guide on transforming *your* apartment, home or studio.
Is it even possible to transform your space without just tossing everything you own? If you’re a renter, can you customize your home without saying goodbye to your security deposit? The answers to both are YES. And you can do so in a coordinated, personalized and eclectic way. My apartment is living proof of that fact!
We’ll go ahead and show you an epic before and after to really drive this point home.
BEFORE // BEIGE + BORING
AFTER // COLORFUL + COORDINATED
Scroll on to see how it all came to life.
PREPARE YOURSELF (AND YOUR APARTMENT!)
First things first, we cleaned up the house and took a cold hard look at some of the items we haven’t used in years. We donated about a dozen giant bags of clothes and household items to Goodwill! Then we hit up Lowe’s to stock up on tons of paint, tools and coordinated decor pieces. If you haven’t gotten lost in a paint chip section, you haven’t lived! But for real, I was mesmerized by all the colors and suggested color palettes in this section of the store. I ended up gravitating towards Lowe’s HGTV HOME™ by Sherwin-Williams Paints, mostly because they offer a ton of different pre-curated color palettes that make it easy to coordinate colors room to room.
My husband David and I pored over all the paint samples I collected and came up with a color scheme. We love spending time outdoors so we were naturally drawn to different shades of blues and greens. We kept this consistent throughout the house to make sure the whole space was coordinated. And also so that when we listen to that 1999 dance classic “Blue” by Eiffel 65 we can think of that week when our entire apartment was painted… blue ;)
I also created an Apartment Makeover Pinterest board to gather interior design inspiration, to save favorite products and to see how it might all come together.
Now, onto the rooms!
That’s right, we started with the hallway, which can totally be called a room if you live in a small apartment. Personally, I’ve always loved the idea of having a mudroom, so I was determined to turn our entryway into one. We started by painting this small section of hallway a dark oceanic blue — this let us define this part of the hall as a “room.” Then we installed a coat rack, piled up a couple shoe racks and added a rug. Instant organization, and it makes the apartment feel cozy from the moment you walk in. You can check out all the design details and DIY tips right here.
Next up, the bathrooms. Even though we live in a one-bedroom, we somehow lucked out and ended up with two full bathrooms. This is crucial because we almost always have houseguests.
For the guest bath on the left, we wanted to take a very minimal approach. The less clutter, the better! The big challenge in here was actually finding space. This bathroom didn’t come with a mirror or any shelving, so we added a mirror and shelf! We also added an extra towel rack, which is a great place to hang up clothes if you want to steam out any wrinkles. On the right is the master bath, aka the rainforest.
I wanted to create a nature-infused space to start the day. I wanted it to feel lush, green and alive — hence, the tropical rainforest theme. We put plants EVERYWHERE. On the window sill, on the wall and on the shelves. We also added on-the-wall jewelry storage to keep everything within arm’s reach. Check out how to make your own handy dandy wooden jewelry organizer here. It’s as simple as sanding, drilling and painting.
From the bathroom, we moved onto the bedroom. I’d say this has been the most overlooked room in our apartment. Because no one else sees it, it tends to be really messy most of the time. And honestly, it looked more like a dorm room than a place where a pair of married thirty-somethings live. We upgraded to bright white nightstands and, to create more space, we installed wall sconces instead of lamps.
The biggest transformation here is definitely the headboard. We picked up a basic white headboard from Lowe’s and used paint to color block it. Above the headboard, I hung up garlands that made up the photo booth backdrop at our wedding three years ago. I’ve been saving them with the hope that someday they’d work their way into our decor. Bonus: They’re totally earthquake-friendly, which is key here in SF.
In the bedroom also happens to be the closet. A beautiful, rainbow-organized place filled with patterns, prints and a whole lot of plaid. We upgraded my wire hangers to wooden ones and added a shoe rack to keep the floor space organized as well.
THE LIVING ROOM
Now onto the living room, which is now a straight up art gallery! I’ve been collecting art for well over a decade, and have never really hung it up. So we decided to make the most of this space and create a gallery — I could stare at this wall all day; it really is the highlight of the entire transformation. To add more dimension, we added small shelves, geometric wire accents and a wall clock. As you’ve likely gathered, I’ve got it bad for power clashing, pattern mixing, whatever you want to call it. Patterns and me are tight, and my home is no exception. I made sure to coordinate colors and patterns in a way that still felt comfortable and homey, not busy and cluttered.
Then we took selfies on the floor because this patterned rug makes a boss photo backdrop. And yes, my husband is a really good sport.
Our office was possibly the biggest pain point in the apartment. I’ve had these dreams of a dedicated creative zone in our apartment, but this room usually ended up being more like a storage unit than a workspace. The thing is, this space needs to be a storage area, as well as a place that welcomes creativity. Thankfully, that’s what shelves, bins and racks are for. To organize DIY supplies, we spray-painted mason jars to hold pens, pencils, paint brushes and more.
We also got actual office chairs! They match, they have wheels and they look dang good in this bright white work space.
The centerpiece of any apartment is the kitchen. It’s where gatherings happen, where you set up shop when you’ve got a crazy deadline and a ton of work to do — it’s the heart of your home. So naturally, we wanted to create a centerpiece-worthy wall to match. We also mixed a ton of different textures on the table to create a coordinated and unusual look. Polka dots, stripes and pottery all made it onto the table.
This geometric statement wall was a crazy but totally doable undertaking. The key is painting a different color each day so you’ve got ample dry time to create seamless color blocks. Check out the full tutorial here.
Very serious painted walls call for very serious family portraits, don’t you think? ;)
Off the kitchen, we’ve got a weird amount of space that we turned into a little den leading to the porch. For such a small room, the before and after transformation was totally extraordinary. To make this room feel bigger, it’s all about large statement pieces of decor. We brought in a graphic black and white carpet, a huge Indian tapestry, an antique-style pendant light and hung a pair of vintage skis on the wall. Our “coffee table” is actually a bench that came with our dining table — it’s great for pulling up extra seating to the table.
The other side of the den is Turkey’s palace, as it were. A lime green crate, a dresser filled with treats and even some succulents and greenery to liven up the place! We also installed a shelf above the dresser to house books and other knick-knacks.
And finally, my porch! Okay, porch might be a generous term, but it’s ours and it’s outside, so we love it. We built these bright window boxes to hang off the balcony to add color and life to this space. We also created a little cafe scene by grouping three bar stools together.
The key here is lots and lots and LOTS of plants! :) We spray painted these giant planters teal and coral to bring even more color to the porch.
Turkey, everything the light touches…
All in all, our apartment feels totally transformed thanks to teaming up with Lowe’s! It finally feels like us.
Be sure to check out the whole series for more deets on each room we designed. And hit up your local Lowe’s to see what inspires your own coordinated home makeover!
This post is a collaboration with Lowe’s.
Styling and Production: Anjelika Temple, Kelly Bryden, Brittany Griffin, Anita Yung
Photography: Chris Andre
Video Direction and Production: Michael Sullivan, Katie Booker, Cody Towner, Justin Gallagher