I was 27 years old, newly single and living on my own in Chicago. It’s been years since this apartment was mine, but it still brings such fond memories every time I think of it. My friend had previously lived in this charming building, which is how I first learned of it. There was a waitlist to get into the building but I was determined. After getting my name on the list, I checked in with the lady who managed it almost weekly. Overtime, she got to know me by name. So, when a unit opened up, she skipped over the list and called me to offer me the unit. I was absolutely elated and reminded of one of life’s truest lessons: when you want something badly enough, the universe has a way of making it happen.
As a young, single gal I had a pretty tight budget, but was so energized by the opportunity to decorate a space all my own. Over the years, my style has definitely evolved and expanded as I’ve become exposed to new resources, influences, and people, but what I love most about looking back at these photos is that it captures where I was creatively at that point in time as a budding decorator.
The front door opened up directly into the living room and had no entryway. So, I decided to put a desk and chair, which I purchased at a vintage shop just a couple blocks from my place, right next to the front door so I’d have a place to set my keys and purse when I came home. I framed a greeting card I had on hand and placed it over the desk to fill in the empty space and balance out the scale. The sconce was original to the space and the bookshelves were the “Kallax Shelving Units” from Ikea. You can’t tell from the photo, but I also had my TV in this shelving unit as well, with the sofa and seating area just off from that.
I still dream of that beautiful fireplace and those gorgeous iron casement windows. In fact, they were precisely why I had fallen in love with this apartment to begin with – so much charm! Since the wall above the fireplace was slanted I couldn’t put a regular mirror or piece of art without it looking funny, so a convex mirror, purchased from eBay was the perfect solution. As for the coffee table, I picked it up from my local Salvation Army for $50. The rug was a borderless “Almond Sisal Rug” from Crate & Barrel, and felt like my first grown-up purchase. The sofa, chairs, and pink vase by the fireplace were all from Ikea and the two cowhide pillows in tan were from West Elm.
To fill in the wall space above the sofa, I purchased a few Ikea frames and placed fashion magazine tears in them for a super budget-friendly gallery wall. The little white and gold side table was also from my trusty neighborhood Salvation Army. It was originally a brown smoking table that I painted white.
The gray sleeper sofa was on the opposite side of the living room seating area and accommodated my guests. I purchased this from another second hand store, where it was originally covered in an eighties floral print. So, I headed to my local Jo-Ann fabric store to choose a fabric then found an upholster to recover it. I loved how it turned out and still have the piece today. The two black side tables were from Ikea, which I spray painted in black.
This bedroom was extra fun for me to decorate and was the first time I actually had a headboard in my adult life. I used the “Nailhead Upholstered Headboard” from West Elm, which I paired with my existing Peacock Alley white bedding that I borrowed from my mom. I placed a Mexican otomi coverlet over that from the Loaded Trunk for more dimension and punctuated the bed with a beautiful Oomph pillow. I used two Ikea “Lack” coffee tables (without the second shelf installed) for nightstands. I loved the modern, Parsons table look they achieved. The lamps were from West Elm, which I still have and love today. And there you have it! My very first bachelorette pad where I spent many early morning and late nights getting Rue off the ground and feeling so inspired.
Photography: Emily Johnston