A Small Boston Condo is Muted, Mostly White, and Marvelously Minimal

A Small Boston Condo is Muted, Mostly White, and Marvelously Minimal

Name: Emily Quach, partner, and dog
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Type of home: Condo
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I grew up in Sunnyside, California, and made my way to the New England area from school. I bought my condo the last year, and it has been everything I wanted in a home.

Currently, because my life is on-the-go, I knew I could not manage a full-sized house. The condo had everything: two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a balcony. I wanted to transform my home into a reflection of what I want in a home. I love to have an organized space with hints of a modern theme. I live with my partner and our dog, Sam. It is truly the perfect home for where we are in our lives.

A lot of my statement pieces are from my favorite stores, West Elm, CB2, and Homesense. I enjoy muted colors, but the living room is where I genuinely bring some color.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Airy, minimal, and modern

What is your favorite room and why? My bedroom is my absolute favorite. The bedroom is the ultimate minimalist room filled with comfort. The bed frame has storage drawers under the bed, and the mattress is heavenly bliss from Helix Sleep.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The Hermes Avalon blanket is a bit pricy but fantastic quality and a beautiful statement in my bedroom. It gives me the luxurious yet modern finishing touches to the bedroom.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Create a mood board for specific themes you know you like. It took me a while to know what types of pieces I wanted to add while maintaining my modern vision. I learned this through many trial and errors of buying things out of convenience and realizing that the furniture or piece did not bring my home together or spark joy.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

A DIY-Filled ’90s-Era Condo Embraces Pastel, Miami, and Art Deco Revival Vibes

A DIY-Filled ’90s-Era Condo Embraces Pastel, Miami, and Art Deco Revival Vibes

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Name: Rosemary McClure
Location: North Hollywood — Los Angeles, California
Type of home: Condo
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I was born and raised in Seattle but moved to LA for law school six years ago. I now work as a public defender. When looking to buy a home, my top priorities were natural light and space to entertain guests.

This condo is on the top floor in a corner, so it feels private like a house. The loft layout and high ceilings are really unique as well. In the past, I gravitated toward a vintage, mid-century modern aesthetic, but that didn’t feel like the right match for the ultra-’90s architecture of this space, so instead I’ve been leaning into the pastel/Miami/Art Deco revival trends.

I’m deliberate about what I display in my home. Most of the art I have up explores feminism, antiracism, queer liberation, or is highly personal, such as a portrait of my mom drawn by my grandma when my mom was a teenager. (Prints are by Kristen Liu-Wong, Maria Qamar, Grace Neutral, Berlin Michelle, Jasper Behrends.) That’s important to me! I also like to make stuff. I paint, sew, and will take a stab at DIYing just about anything. So a lot of things in my home are one-of-a-kind by virtue of being DIYed.

What is your favorite room and why? My living room for sure. The windows and high ceilings feel spacious and my plants love the natural light. I’m also a huge DIYer, and my most proud DIY is there: my fireplace surround. My first tile project! It was so hard, but I’m very proud of how it turned out. I also treated myself to a comically large TV during a Black Friday sale last year. No regrets.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Sunny pastel loft

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The chairs on my balcony from The Novogratz.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Mass produced art looks generic. Avoid buying that stuff at chain stores like IKEA or Crate & Barrel. These days, lots of independent artists have online shops where you can buy pieces directly from them. That’s the way to go.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

A Compact San Francisco Condo Shows How to Optimize Space Beautifully

A Compact San Francisco Condo Shows How to Optimize Space Beautifully

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Name: Laura, Pan, and Radar (the dog)
Location: San Francisco, California
Type of Home: Condo in a 1909 Victorian building
Size: 1000 sq. ft
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

A friend once described perfection beautifully for me: that it might not always come out the best option across all possible stack-ranked permutations, but that when you do encounter it, even if you know there are objectively “better” things out there, you’re done looking. Or, sure, you can look, but you don’t covet. That’s when you know what you have is perfect.

When we discovered our place, you could say things fell together by happy coincidence — we happened to know the buyer’s agent personally from a previous chance encounter, we knew the zip code well from having done many projects around the area — but most of all, when we saw it, we were filled with an emotion that might be best summed up as “coming home.”

Our home occupies the top floor of a 1909 Victorian building. We love the south-facing light in the bay windows, the view of the San Francisco city skyline out of our bedroom window, and the fact that it’s the perfect size for a small family starting out; cozy but still spacious, and not too much work to clean. We love the neighborhood for its diverse, come-as-you-are community, the parks, and the European-inspired public square (one of very, very few in the city) where you can throw back a coffee and linger in the sun.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Anti-farmhouse (just joking). Contrast that’s clean but not cold. Contemporary history you can live in, but more gallery than museum.

Inspiration: “Une Fille Une Style” series from Vogue Paris — I love their attention to small, practical city apartments full of sunlight, loved objects, and little dinner parties.

Favorite Element: Our south-facing open kitchen with its bay window dining nook. There used to be a peninsula; we opted to demo this, converting the storage into more available volume, to open up the two rooms. I like getting focused work done at the island with a cup of tea at 4 p.m., using the countertops as a window perch like a cat, or hosting friends.

Biggest Challenge: The bathroom and living room are basically caves with skylights because the walls have no windows. You’d think light falling from the sky is the best, direct from the source, but because the skylights have no pitch and long sun tunnels, this can make for darker, more shadowy rooms. Great for Halloween, less great for our hearth.

How we overcame this: In the living room, we splashed the room in terracotta pink limewash paint from baseboards to ceiling, to neutralize the shadows cast on the ceiling (pink canceling out gray on the color wheel), and to create more texture and dimension (lime-wash paint has great movement) that could disguise the residual shadow. And in the bathroom, we did the opposite, with high-contrast graphic black and white to make everything pop (hard contrast is also pretty good at canceling out soft shadow).

Proudest DIY: We turned the dog crate into a little table top, or what I call an “accessory altar” — equal parts altar (things I come to for peace, or a sense of groundedness) and diorama (a show and tell that is alive and interactable as much as it is statically on display).

Dog crates are an important part of an apartment pup’s training and well-being. They’re practical and strong. Problem: They’re also pretty bulky, and ugly. To fix this, we purchased an IKEA solid wood countertop and got a TaskRabbit’s help to laser-cut and sand it down to size. Then, we leaned a vintage brass-gilded mirror on the top, secured to the crown molding with eyelet hooks and cable ties, safely out of sight, and staged loved objects amid the dog equipment and treats. This is just one of the things we did to dog-proof the house without compromising on spaciousness or aesthetics. And now we have an extra table/dog station/surface on which to forget we left our phones.

Biggest Indulgence: Our marble-top kitchen island from Anthropologie. It was worth it, a thousand times over. The veining is beautiful, the texture of natural stone is unbeatable, and it’ll be cold enough for epic baking adventures (like achieving lamination on croissants!). As far as islands go, I think it was a solid investment; the kitchen is a hub for activity and we wanted an island that would stand up to everything we put it through.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Instead of furnishing the second bedroom into a guest bedroom or a study, we use the second bedroom as a yoga/fitness studio. This is a bold move in that it might seem like we’re not making the most of our not-a-lot-of-square-footage by keeping a whole room basically empty, but I feel the opposite; empty means multi-purpose. So when guests come, they have a place to stay, and when it’s just the three of us, it’s where I can escape my dog and my office.

Having space to move is important to me. I used to teach yoga actively (completed my 200-hour training in 2014) and regularly do a dance-based workout to flush and decompress after work. The studio is more than a multi-purpose room; it’s a palate cleanser. Now that we’re working from home, I don’t just need different rooms to do things in; I need sanctuaries to reset and context switch.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love our Poster Club print set from Jaron Su, a Taiwanese painter. I paired two of his paintings — one more whimsical, and the other more thoughtful — in our entryway, as a reminder of Asia, where much of our family still lives.

I also love our curvy vintage chairs — we have an Alvar Aalto and a Herman Miller, both handed down through Facebook Marketplace with authenticity stamps. I know how quickly used furniture depreciates; these are classics we invested in that I think will hold their value better (or maybe even increase in value), and that double up as a little art collection while we get to own them.

My absolute favorite things, the things that really ground and lift our house, are not the ones I bought. They include the first ever letter a friend sent from her new house (she purchased right after us), a birthday drawing from our former neighbors’ 8-year old, a graduation photo set from a very dear college friend’s sister, two (well-meaning) attempts at ceramic teapots from another friend’s pottery class that remain unbroken through all my apartments, a Christmas card from Norway where one of my partner’s sisters lives, a family recipe I’ve framed against the kitchen backsplash. Moving into our first home away from friends and family was made easier with these sentimental, very treasured objects I can’t buy.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have:

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Here’s a controversial principle that I live by: A great interior is never one-dimensional, so if you can fit your entire “interior design style” into a single textbook label like “mid-century modern” or “Art Deco” — sure, you may have a beautiful space, but it may not be interesting. Interesting is a dance, it’s tension, it’s playful, and fresh, and usually unique. It’s what makes a space really yours.

So my best decorating advice is: interesting, not pretty. Turns out, the end result is usually prettier, too.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

A 548-Square-Foot New Jersey Condo is a Black and White French-Inspired Beauty

A 548-Square-Foot New Jersey Condo is a Black and White French-Inspired Beauty

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Name: Miguel Saltos
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Type of home: Condo
Size: 548 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’m a flight attendant for a living, but an artist at heart. I purchased my one-bedroom condo at the end of 2019 (a month before the pandemic hit the U.S.).

During these last two years, I’ve given the place a huge facelift as it was in terrible condition when I bought it.

I have a somewhat neutral color palette, mostly consisting of black, white, and grays throughout the space, but I think the essence of the condo is seen in the kitchen. Its rustic, French-inspired look ties together the rest of the space.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Modern, Victorian, rustic, French

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room? I can’t decide between my living room and kitchen.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought is a “tile mat” — the best way to welcome guests or design your own ceramic tile look, without the ceramic and high prices. My tile mat comes with octagon shaped caps to add to the floor mat so you get to make your own design.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I think the best advice I can give anyone is to first buy products that are sustainable or shop places, like from Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Most of my best finds have been found this way. And second, to create a space suitable for comfort yet versatile in style. I feel that as we grow, our spaces should match our growth.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

This Cool LA Condo Achieves a High-End Look on a Secondhand Budget

This Cool LA Condo Achieves a High-End Look on a Secondhand Budget

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Name: Natalie Wong
Location: Koreatown Los Angeles, California
Size: 1,800 square feet
Type of Home: Condo
Years lived in: 5 years, owned

Natalie Wong, a digital event producer for a major entertainment studio, recently repainted every room in her home, a large condo in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood. It’s a space she’s totally transformed into a Hollywood Regency-inspired style thanks to color and a knack for finding sweet vintage and thrifted pieces. Her personal motto? “Secondhand first.” Natalie, who blogs about DIYs on her website, Ktown Chateau, also hosts an IGTV series called “Secondhand Roadshow,” where she interviews other decorating and design enthusiasts about their favorite vintage and secondhand finds. Her passion and love for vintage and history is evident, and her home’s architecture reflects that love, too.

“I was in the market to buy a home and instantly fell in love with my apartment’s vintage details,” she writes. “It has tall 10-foot ceilings and original hardwood floors and crown molding. The building is actually a designated historic cultural monument designed in the French Normandy style. It has the most adorably manicured courtyard and looks like a miniature Disneyland castle from the outside. I even own the unit with the turret. I’m located in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles on the same block as other historic buildings, and there’s constantly filming in my area. It’s walkable to dozens of shops, restaurants, karaoke studios, and bars. Anthony Bourdain actually filmed an episode of his show “Parts Unknown” in Koreatown, and commented on how the 1992 LA riots took place just two blocks from here. This part of Los Angeles has been through so many changes over the years, and it’s still continuing to evolve.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Curated maximalism

Inspiration: Because my home was built in the ’30s, I’m heavily inspired by the Hollywood Regency era. Almost every piece of furniture or decor piece that I own or bought is secondhand or vintage.

Favorite Element: The living room. It was love at first sight.

Biggest Challenge: I initially had analysis paralysis and was overwhelmed with the amount of choices you have when you’re trying to decorate and furnish a three-bedroom home for just yourself. It was totally a good problem to have, and once I identified a decor style I was happy with, I became very focused to achieve that specific look and everything just started falling into place. It just took a little bit of time and patience.

Proudest DIY: I created a trompe l’oeil effect with the flooring on my upstairs balcony by painting over the tile and stenciling it with a geometric pattern. I did that over the course of a hot summer weekend in LA during wildfire season.

Biggest Indulgence: I bought the floor model of a round mirrored dining table from a high-end furniture shop in LA. Even though it was heavily discounted, it still cost me close to $3,000 after sales taxes and delivery fees. 

Subconsciously, I think I was so resentful of the cost, I never liked it in my space. I ended up selling it for 20 percent of what I paid, and I regret ever buying it in the first place. In its place, I found a vintage dining table for $200 from a local reseller. This is why I highly encourage people to always buy secondhand or vintage. Vintage will always have a better resale value, and it’s sustainable.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I had to remove a hallway closet and add a wall upstairs to create a third bedroom. This extra space is now my “cloffice,” or closet office. Like most people have done during the pandemic, it’s become a multi-use space: closet, office, guest room, and yoga studio.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My favorite vintage finds include the brass coffee table in my primary bedroom that I bought from a set designer off of Facebook Marketplace, and the Dorothy Draper-inspired dressers from an antique store in San Diego that I had a friend refinish. And of course, the palm chandelier hanging above my bed that I bought for $5.

I actually believe that every secondhand or vintage item that I bring into my home is a “favorite.” I only curate and collect pieces that I know I will love in my space.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: To stay organized, I have a one in, one out policy. If I bring something home, I have to donate or sell something else. This includes clothing and shoes.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Your home is not truly yours until you’re incorporating unique items that you can’t buy from a mass retailer. Avoid looking like a showroom or a page out of a catalog. The easiest way to make your house a home is decorating with vintage pieces, including family heirlooms, and souvenirs from your travels. Also, do NOT buy furniture sets!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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