This Loft’s Cool 12-Foot High Open Bookshelf Divider Cost Under $500 to Build

This Loft’s Cool 12-Foot High Open Bookshelf Divider Cost Under $500 to Build

Name: Bronte Athearn and partner, Jordan
Location: Los Angeles, California
Type of home: Loft
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 4 months, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Last summer, my partner, Jordan, and I bought a van, then decided to leave Los Angeles for six months. We explored 32 states and dozens of National Parks, and had fallen completely in love with this new way of life. We eventually found ourselves in Brooklyn. We considered staying in New York, but ultimately, with our work, we realized Los Angeles would be home for now. (Jordan is a filmmaker, and I’m an interior stylist.)

We finally made our way back to Los Angeles, and the apartment hunt began! We toured at least 10 apartments before stumbling across a loft we found on Craigslist. The moment we walked in, we immediately fell in love with its character and charm. It has tall windows, brick walls, 12-foot ceilings, original hardwood, and even a wood-burning fireplace. I knew this would be the perfect canvas for me to play with.

I love neutral tones with pops of green (hence my very green kitchen that I painted myself.) I also love using natural elements when it comes to styling: rocks, leathers, woods, linens, and lots and lots of plants. I actually ended up styling with items I found on the road.

What is your favorite room and why? The living room! I designed a 12-foot high open bookshelf that divides the bedroom and living room. Instead of building walls, I wanted to keep the loft/studio vibe, so I went with this alternative, and I love how it came out. Jordan’s dad is an amazing carpenter and built it for us for under $500!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Lived-in modern

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A few favorites are our vintage cane dining chairs from Urban Americana, all our Danish furniture from Saasaan Vintage, and our super breathable cozy bedding from Dazed But Amazed.

Any advice for creating a home you love? For fellow renters my advice is this: Find a way to enhance what already exists in your home by asking yourself: How can I make this more special? Remember, less is more.

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

A Rental Apartment in a Former School Is Enviably Art & Light Filled

A Rental Apartment in a Former School Is Enviably Art & Light Filled

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Name: Mallory Brooks, my partner, Mike, and two cats, Socks and Pepper
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live in a converted former 1920s-era school with my partner, Mike, and two cats, Socks and Pepper. I’ve lived here for five years (two with Mike) and I was immediately drawn to my apartment for its unique features and history as a classroom — it retains its original hardwood floors and has large, paned glass windows. It’s bright and airy, yet also cozy and charming (plants LOVE it!). The building still feels like you’re roaming the halls of a school, which remain lined with lockers.

I’m a photographer, artist, and small business owner and Mike is a creative director, writer, and musician. Our space is filled with a colorful, eclectic mix of vintage and modern decor —and over 100 plants! Fortunately, Mike loves my aesthetic so I’ve been able to keep most of what I originally had while blending his pieces into the mix. My love for color, travel, art, plants, and vintage items is reflected everywhere, from the art to the objects to the furniture. My style is a mix of old and new, so we have thrifted/inherited pieces mingling with modern IKEA staples. Plus, most of the art is my own! Our home is also what inspired me to take a leap and start a business, Abe Home Goods, to share my style and help others create a space of their own that they love. Ultimately, the apartment is a place that reflects two creative people and their inspirations.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Colorful, eclectic, inviting, plant-filled

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the main living area, which is really three rooms in one (kitchen, dining, and living rooms). In particular, I’m obsessed with the jungle that’s grown above our kitchen cabinets. I put a few pothos plants up there a few years ago and they just took over! Another favorite in the space is the gallery wall that I call the “wanderlust wall” because it’s filled with my photography and art I’ve collected on my travels and it reminds me of my favorite places. 

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I’m constantly sourcing vintage and secondhand items for my shop, and inevitably, I end up being unable to part with some of those items, so they find a home in ours. But, one of the most recent additions, however, was a credenza of Mike’s that we painted a peacock blue to hold the TV. It was crafted from salvaged lockers by a local shop, Kaboodle; we love how it gives a nod to the apartment’s former life as a high school. 

Any advice for creating a home you love? Design your home for you; fill it with the things that you love, not solely because something is trendy. If you really love a piece, you can make it work. I also suggest filling your walls and shelves with lots of art, especially from small and local artists if you can. Art and vintage items can add personality and help your space better express “you”. And finally, a home should never be finished nor be perfect; it evolves with us as we live!

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

This Cool Jersey City Loft Has Renter-Friendly Concrete Wallpaper

This Cool Jersey City Loft Has Renter-Friendly Concrete Wallpaper

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Name: Nicole Wyman and dog, Henley
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 840 square feet
Time lived in: 2 weeks, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’ve always loved the look and feel of old industrial buildings and converted lofts compared to the soulless, pristine white box options you typically find in rental buildings in and around the city. I recently moved from a loft building in Brooklyn, and was looking for something with similar character (exposed brick and beams, and good natural light). I found it here, in a converted warehouse building in Jersey City. Prior to the pandemic, I worked in hospitality. When my clients shut down in March 2020, I spent many months alone with my rescue pup on what I came to realize was a very uncomfortable couch. I needed a change (and more closet space for a fledgling business making baby denim jackets during my months at home).

I began the search for a new place with character, more closet space, and a new couch. My new home is a loft conversion and has character in spades; beamed wooden ceilings, sliding barn doors, exposed brick walls, and eastern exposure, which offers excellent morning light. I’ve turned one of the huge closets into an office for The Cool Ant, with plenty of storage for the denim jackets, my sewing machine, and all my materials — and most importantly, purchased the world’s most comfortable living room couch (The Leighton from Raymour & Flannigan). The building has great amenities, including a dog run on the roof, which Henley, my rescue pup loves. I love the apartment’s high ceilings (12 feet) and the industrial ceiling fans, which aside from being cool to look at, keep the apartment cool, too. The fixtures throughout are modern, which has allowed me to pepper in other modern pieces, including a set of six mixed teal, black, and white Eames dining chairs purchased on Houzz, and two Lucite Kartell bar stools that I’ve had for nearly 10 years. A large pouf I bought in a souk in Morocco anchors my living room, and caddy-corner, a spotlight from Beam, the most amazing little design store in Brooklyn.

I gravitate toward a singular color scheme or theme that runs like a ribbon through all of the spaces in my home. In this apartment, the colors that I used are blue hues inspired by my favorite trips to the Mediterranean. There, the incredible blues change with the way the light hits them. It’s a perfect palette to mix and match. I’m a beach baby at heart, and love nothing more than being in or by the ocean. The art I’ve collected allows me to escape into that world. The dreamy Gray Malin photo that anchors my living room is a picture of kids diving off rock cliffs in Capri. If I could be transported anywhere in the world, I’d want to go there.

My parents bought me my first car in high school, which came with a license plate that said “Bla Bla” as a joke because I was a chatty kid. Since then, it’s become an unofficial nickname, and design inspiration. I’ve been gifted, pointed toward, and have looked for artwork with a “Blah” theme including a Mel Bochner I was gifted for college graduation, and a piece by British pop artist Deborah Azzopardi. I was able to mix in other Blah items I’ve collected along the way including two framed shopping bags from a store in St. Tropez, and a few other fun pieces I love including a vintage Barbie piece by David Parise, and the “what the fuck” print by George McCalman, which perfectly encapsulates this past year. Of course, the original Bla Bla license plate is framed as part of my gallery wall.

I’ve accessorized with pieces I’ve picked up while traveling, including my favorite beaded coasters from a market in Johannesburg, ceramic hand sculptures from a store in Miami, playful black and white Fornasetti plates I’ve collected throughout the years, and a sassy little Sicilian ceramic face pot.

What is your favorite room and why? The kitchen and dining room are my favorite spaces in the apartment. I’m a firm believer in the idea that all good things happen around a table — deals are done, friendships forged, relationships built, and memories are made there. I’ve never lived in a space where I could have a dining room table until now, and after a year spent alone in quarantine, I can’t wait to dive into the recipe books and host my friends for cocktails, parties, and holidays. I love the way the open format kitchen flows into the other room allowing us to move from cocktails at the kitchen island to dinner at the table, followed by drinks in the living room. My neon sign reads “Andiamo” which means “Let’s Go” in Italian. I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for kicking off post-pandemic life.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Industrial, Serene, Cool Toned, Modern

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A few unexpected amazing finds:

Any advice for creating a home you love?

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

This Norway Home Has 1,000+ Books, 100+ Plants, and 1 Very Cool Lofted Bedroom

This Norway Home Has 1,000+ Books, 100+ Plants, and 1 Very Cool Lofted Bedroom

Name: Elisabeth Riksen
Location: Grünerløkka — Oslo, Norway
Size: 818 square feet
Type of Home: Factory apartment
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

I’ve been lucky enough to live in some great houses and apartments but had a long-time dream of living in a loft or factory apartment. A space with that indescribable wow-factor, preferably with an industrial vibe, plus more room for art, books, and everything else that I love and collect. Having made my stir-crazy-from-WFH-in-my-kitchen-during-a-pandemic mind up to go for it I literally listed, showed, sold, viewed, purchased, and moved in within 12 weeks in the summer of 2020.

I impulsively stopped by this space on my way to a viewing in the building next door and fell head over heels. It just felt so right! Working from home, with lockdown after lockdown, I have spent an unprecedented amount of time at home and am so thankful for the joy and energy this space continues to give me. I love the neighbourhood with its mix of independent shops and markets, restaurant, cafés, and bustling bars and concert venues, plus the quiet residential streets, riverside walks, parks, and squares. Also I adore that I have an operational chocolate factory next door.

I have almost 100 plants, and probably 1000 books. I love music and work with music PR. I have worked in the Norwegian and international music industry for most of my adult life but couldn’t carry a tune or play an instrument even if my life depended on it. I sold 90% of my record collection before moving here and it feels strange, but also liberating, that it no longer defines my interior as it has done previously.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Scandinavian minimalism done wrong. I aspire to a light, orderly, and neutral space with pared down design. And then, without really noticing, fill it up with art, books, plants and, well, stuff. It looks semi-cluttered, but there is order in the madness and if you open closets, drawers, and cupboards you’ll see I run a tight ship.

Inspiration: Homes with a distinctive character where you can tell something about who lives there, whether it’s minimal or maximal, neutral or bright, modern or classic. I find real homes in magazines, online, and on Instagram — especially “house tours” such as on Apartment Therapy — very inspirational, as I much prefer that to something overly styled and trendy. I love variety and personality and find a lot of inspiration and pleasure in seeing homes that are very different to mine!

Favorite Element: Apart from the sense of space the double height living space gives, most definitely the bespoke bookcase in the living room! I really like how you can’t see it until you’ve walked almost all the way through the apartment as otherwise it would’ve defined the space instantly, plus because the “grand reveal” is so fun. Even people who have seen photos are wowed by it.

Biggest Challenge: The apartment was very pared down when I viewed it. Super cool, but not at all practical with the almost totally open plan solution. The entry with hardly any storage leading almost directly into the galley kitchen and through to the living room, plus a bedroom with no storage, and the open mezzanine area. I needed for it to be a practical home and home office with plenty of both out-of-view and on-display storage. Also, the acoustics were abysmal. And there were lockdowns. And I was on a budget. When it turned out that the ceiling spotlights in the bathroom were a fire hazard that needed to be addressed promptly, that naturally ate up the chunk of money I had set aside for more fun things. So some things were put on hold while I found alternative solutions for others.

Proudest DIY: I did a bit of painting, repurposing, and some assembling, including the huge white metal sideboard constructed from six small IKEA lockers that hold a massive amount of overspill from the entry and kitchen both. They fit together so perfectly I should’ve realized they meant for this to be a hack, but I felt very clever at the time. However, I am probably most proud of the 5’10” by 3’11” picture on the living room wall. It is a photo of my horse that I took myself and had printed in a shop where they make advertising banners. I stapled the fabric to oak trim that I got cheap from a carpentry store, then somehow managed to cut the trim to size with the tools I had available and screwed the whole thing directly onto the wall. Even though I know someone professional would have done a more perfect job I really like how it looks, how it improved the acoustics, and that it only cost me around $80 USD altogether. That includes a couple of dollars to the swear jar.

Biggest Indulgence: 818 not-very-practical square feet all to myself! And, of course, the massive custom bookcase in the living room. That is something that I have dreamt of since I was a child and wanted to live in a library. Even if I drew up the design and had a lot of input, I can’t take credit for the superb work of craftsman Tore Bjørnstad of Feiring, Norway. His company Deja Wood works mainly with reclaimed wood, hence the name, and he combined the creative with the practical perfectly. By creating modules in his studio, he saved me a lot of money both because of the material he could use, and how it was both easier and quicker to assemble once he was on site.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The mezzanine loft style apartment is located in one of several old factories built in an U-shaped complex in the 1890s. These were repurposed around 2005, adding a huge communal backyard and massive rooftop terrace. The apartments in this building are all slightly different in layout, most with very high ceilings or double height spaces. They are accessed by covered walkways that double as balconies. Despite the fairly generous size my apartment is essentially a one bed, one bath. Where I live, currently work and — when the time comes again — entertain.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I am happy with having purchased very few brand-new pieces. Thumbs up from a financial and environmental aspect. But also, I have collected things that I love over time, and am so happy that almost everything has found a place. That being said, my go to for affordable design, practical storage, and heaps of inspiration is IKEA. I have pieces from there that I have owned since the eighties and will normally check if I can get stuff second hand before going to the store.

I did a quick count of brand-new stuff and came to roughly 10 items including the bookshelves, valet stand, bed with storage, living room rug, desk, wall-mounted TV, and three lamps. This if you count the metal lockers as one and disregard small storage bits and bobs and frames that are mostly picked up from IKEA. The apartment is filled with furniture and items I have had for years, decades even, others are bought new or second hand with this space in mind. I needed to trade my lovely tan leather couch in for something smaller and am very happy I experimented with colour by getting the third-hand white leather couch. It’s vintage IKEA, only cost me $75 USD including having someone pick it up for me.

And I absolutely love the look and comfort of the pre-loved Arne Jacobsen chairs that were all sourced over time, including one made in 1973 that was gifted to me. The eight have only cost me a bit more in total than two brand new ones would have.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Have realistic expectations and embrace what you love in combination with how you live. Being tidy and organized is key, but if you’re not make sure you have plenty of out-of-sight storage. A combo of purpose-built, smart, and cheap (hello IKEA) storage does the trick for me. Also any furniture that does double duty by having storage is a winner.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Make it personal!
Build your home like you would an art collection: over time and by getting things that speak to you. When you love every single piece, it somehow always ends up working as a whole. Also, when it isn’t totally fashionable or on trend, neither does it end up being totally unfashionable or dated. Adding just a few custom or vintage pieces, some original art, and a statement plant or two that you like the look of will transform a generic space. And if you think scented candles are expensive, I recommend moving next door to a chocolate factory!

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