You know what’s tricky?
Trying to furnish your apartment through Craigslist when you don’t own a car.
Also, focusing on work when what you really feel like doing is checking out vintage chairs and area rugs on pinterest.
After living mostly in studios (and a lot of Indian, Indonesian, and Cambodian hotel rooms) for the last four years, Joe and I are feeling pretty inspired to get set up now that we’re in our new (1 bedroom!) place. In January we sold most of the furniture we acquired when we first moved to Portland, as a lot of it was hasty Craigslist purchases that ultimately just didn’t feel right. (I’m a believer in either changing or letting go of what’s not working. This applies to life as well as home decor.)
For our new pad, the vision is to create an atmosphere that’s cozy and calm but also has a lot of style and pops of colour. Cohesive and eclectic.
We also want to find as many sweet second-hand deals as we can, so we can bring some new things into the mix too, like bedding, throw pillows, and a couple of these nightstands:
which I just discovered and which are low enough to go with our (Ikea) Malm bed. Finding nightstands under 22 inches high is surprisingly difficult. We’ve been on the hunt for the last year! Most are designed for regular beds with high headboards, which is the opposite of the Malm. Someone needs to create a line of nightstands for all the low-bed sleepers out there. This is a million-dollar idea, I swear.
But back to Craigslist. You might find an item with serious potential, like this $45 coffee table:
But realize that because it’s located in Beaverton, a suburb 25 minutes southwest of Portland, you need to coordinate with the seller a time to see it that corresponds with renting a Getaround car in your neighbourhood, with a backseat big enough for the table’s 54 inches in length.
But you’re liking that narrow mid-century look, and it’s freshly painted, says Hanna, the seller, with gold on the drawer pulls and leg bottoms. $45 is a steal, you decide. Beaverton mission must happen, before someone else nabs it. Even if the soonest you can get there is 9 pm on a Tuesday night in the pouring rain.
The coffee table is now in our living room, on top of this second-hand jute rug from West Elm. (These are the Craigslist photos, not our apartment.)
The chair on the right here was a $10 find just a few blocks away, no car needed. It’s now in a corner of our bedroom.
This is the sort of thing we’ve been up to since moving—tracking down good finds, checking measurements, visualizing if something will work, and then either passing or making it happen. There’s still a lot on our to-do/wish list, but the place is starting to come together. Especially with the recent spontaneous addition of a lavender plant on top of our fridge and a big-leafed tropical called a monstera deliciosa next to our living room window. I must admit I feel pretty wistful about all the houseplants in beautiful pots I gave away when I moved to Korea four years ago. I don’t even remember which friends got what plants, but I had vines, ferns, a massive jade and others that I’d nurtured over the span of seven years. It’s the tradeoff of living in other parts of the world, this starting over, the rebuilding after. But so worth it.
Here’s what we’re working with:
The Living Room
Top floor of a 19th century Victorian house = angled ceilings everywhere. This gives the place tons of character but also limits your useable floor space, which can make the layout a challenge. We were a little worried these crazy living room angles were going to make it feel too enclosed, but they don’t at all. Just the right amount of cozy.
That weird triangle window on the left looks out to our patio. We’re trying to coax Cleo into making the area below it into her sleeping zone, which is sort of working, until about 6 a.m. when she starts scratching at our bedroom door and crying to get in.
The wallpaper is grasscloth, which gives it a cabin-esque feel. My preference would be white walls, but we love the place, so no complaints.
One of our biggest priorities when we were manifesting a new apartment was a kitchen that had a decent amount of counter space (vs. our old one, which had basically zero counters) and was open to the living room. We want to hang out and cook at the same time. If Joe’s making us roasted veggie and chipotle quesadillas, we want to be able to chat while he’s doing it, not be calling out to each other from separate rooms. Same for when we have friends over. This kitchen is open and has tons of counter space. And a dishwasher. It’s so. much. better.
For us having a bedroom, period, is a novelty. No more bed-in-the-living-room situation. And this bedroom is big!
The doors lead out to the patio.
That’s the door to a pretty substantial walk-in closet. Lots of floor space and a long hanging rod, but the whole thing is awkward because the back wall is so sloped. We’re making it work. (And a dresser’s on the list.)
Another priority was having some sort of outdoor space, ideally private. This has it all. Lots of room for a table, chairs, planters, and a few friends. Wrought iron hooks are already hung, so I’m seeing some hanging flowers and succulents in my future. It’s partially covered too, so has a mix of shade and sun. Pretty stoked for morning coffee out here in the summertime.
When our friend Bryan who helped us move in saw the bathroom, he said “It’s so seventies,” which I hadn’t really noticed, but I think that’s because I was so stoked, again, about the counter space. I’m sure I sound like I’m obsessed with counters, but our old bathroom had a pedestal sink with no counter, no cupboard, nowhere to put anything. This one is the opposite. There are so many drawers we don’t know what to do with them. A good problem to have.
This is the original clawfoot tub. As I wrote that just now I suddenly thought of how that means people have been bathing in it for a over a century, which is kind of out there. Apparently this floor of the house was originally servants’ quarters. That’s a lot of history.
And that’s a serious claw foot.
Okay, there you have it. Our new place, the bare ‘before’ pics. We plan to keep adding to it gradually over the next few months, so I’ll share a few updates and photos here as it progresses. I’ve also got some other fun posts in the works that have nothing to do with home decorating, but all involve creativity. Coming soon!
Happy February, everyone!
ps. Some great tips on shopping for vintage on Craigslist, by one of my favourite designers
And more tricks for finding good vintage pieces in second hand stores
Both of these women are total pros and super talented. Enjoy!