A DIY Maven Ditched Her House’s Dining Room for a Ravishing Reading Room

A DIY Maven Ditched Her House’s Dining Room for a Ravishing Reading Room

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Name: Joel and Jessica Nickerson, their two girls, and Pip Squeak the cat
Location: Outside of Dallas Texas
Size: 2,200 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

From the second I saw this house online I could picture us in it. The neighborhood it’s located in is sweet, too, and it’s walking distance from our girls’ school. When we came to see it, we walked from the front door to the backyard and we were already talking about making an offer. I loved the layout and the charm it had. You could tell it had been loved… but it needed updating (you can see the pictures I took on moving day, here). Thankfully that’s my favorite thing! We’re only the third owners (it was built in the early ’70s) and the last owners raised their girls here and the family that built it had girls too! I love that!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I used to say “eclectic” because that meant I could justify whatever I liked. I’d still say that but I’d add vintage, traditional, and a little modern.

Biggest Challenge: I think we can easily forget that turning a house to home is a process. It takes time and money and patience. That’s okay! Enjoy the process.

Proudest DIY: When we moved into our home, our kitchen was on the list for a someday- demo. A year and a half into living here, we made a few adjustments like removing the soffit, adding open shelving, and replacing the counters. We painted EVERYTHING and besides the countertops, everything was bought secondhand. We love our kitchen now. It’s no longer a top priority.

Biggest Indulgence: I usually purchase most things secondhand on Facebook Marketplace but I wanted a table in a specific size for our dining area and had looked for months with no luck. I worked with a local wood worker, @kaleocarpentry, to design a table that is heirloom quality. It was more than we’ve ever paid for furniture (roadside finds are my jam) but so worth it. It’s beautiful and will be perfect for our family for years to come.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We ditched a dining room for the reading room. The under the stairs closet is a “craft room” for our girls and I turned a hall closet into a mudroom. Your house should serve you and your family. Nothing has to stay the way it was intended.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love our vintage rugs. Two of them (my favorite ones) were my great grandmother’s but I’ve also gotten a couple at estate sales and online. They are beautiful and have so much character.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’m just really inspired to have less. Being more intentional with what we bring into our home gives us less to keep up with, clean, and store.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? DO IT. I’m a really big advocate of jumping in there and getting the job done. I want you to love your home so if there are things that you can do right now to give you that feeling, you should do them. Don’t be afraid to try a new paint color or hang art. Make nail holes!! Move your furniture around. These things are low-cost, low-stakes changes but they could lead to you feeling better about your space, more confident in your abilities, and more content in your home. Can’t beat that!

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

A Stunning Australian Apartment Comes Alive With Secondhand Finds

A Stunning Australian Apartment Comes Alive With Secondhand Finds

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Name: Alyssa Owens and Alex Matthews
Location: Carlton, just north of Melbourne’s CBD
Size: 800 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

The heritage apartment sits in Carlton, on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD. It’s part of a late Victorian residence that once held the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. The mansion was later cut up into smaller apartments, one of which we were lucky enough to snag in May 2019 when we moved to Melbourne from New Orleans. The soaring ceilings and elaborate plasterwork are striking, and we’ve tried to balance them out with simple, modern furnishings. What you see in the photos is mostly vintage or used, a mix of our favourite pieces we shipped from Louisiana or sourced here in Melbourne’s second-hand market.

The space is perfect for big, loud dinner parties. We made the most of this when we first moved in, but Melbourne’s lockdowns put the parties on hold. So, the apartment has mostly been for us over the past 18 months. We feel grateful to have had such a comfortable space to ride out the pandemic while both working from home. Alex is an Australian consultant who’s spent the past decade working in strategy in Melbourne, New York, and New Orleans. Alyssa is an educator who now works at a global non-profit that helps unemployed people access meaningful work. She’s spent most of her adult life working in schools in New Orleans. One Louisiana summer, the two of us met on the bayou.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern, collected, textured, and always evolving

Inspiration: We’re most inspired by our travels, by art, and by other people’s beautiful spaces.

Favorite Element: The ceilings — 16-feet high with traditional plasterwork — are stunning. They’re the first thing you see when you walk into the apartment.

Biggest Challenge: Temperature control. Soaring ceilings are lovely to look at but make heating during the Melbourne winter feel impossible.

Proudest DIY: We used vinyl decals to cover up tired, gray floor tile off the kitchen and en-suite bathroom.

Biggest Indulgence: The Beni Ourain rug in the living space is really the only big-ticket furniture item we purchased new. We worked with an incredible weaver in Morocco to design it. He helped us get the size and color just right for the space.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We don’t have a TV, but on most locked-down Friday nights we rearrange the living room furniture and remove artwork on the 5m x 6m wall to convert the space into a makeshift home theatre. All it takes is a classroom projector, a portable Bluetooth speaker, and a willingness to put everything back into place on Monday morning before Zoom calls. Our spare bathroom also doubles as a storage closet — but that’s just not as fun.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Start with one item that you absolutely love. Then design the room around it. For our living room, that was the rug. Also, go slow and buy secondhand whenever possible. Vintage and thrifted furniture lasts longer, is more interesting to look at, and holds onto its value.

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

A Smallish Bushwick Loft Feels Much Larger Thanks to Airy, Industrial Vibes

A Smallish Bushwick Loft Feels Much Larger Thanks to Airy, Industrial Vibes

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Name: Lily Harris (she/her), Llew Mejia (he/him), and three cats (Spooky, Poe, and Wody, one Sphynx and two Cornish Rexes)
Location: Bushwick, Brooklyn
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, renting

“We do not remember where half of our stuff is from,” shares Lily. “We don’t buy a lot of new things, we pick up antiques when we see them during moves and travels, and we have found a lot of free gems from people moving in and out of New York.” Fashion designer and Holistic Health Practitioner Lily and her partner, Llew, an illustrator and folk tattoo artist, have moved around the United States a lot (though NYC has been their home for six years now) and the only things they’ve really kept from move to move are their antiques. Antique furniture and decor are on full display in their space, including a set of monogrammed trunks passed down from Lily’s great-grandfather, an antique armoire that Llew found, and treasures from their visits to the flea market and travels. 

The 700-square-foot apartment also checks a lot of items on their list of design aesthetic must-haves. A wall of windows, a feature they prioritized when looking for a new space, provides a lot of natural light in their open loft industrial space. The windows make the space seem more open, highlight the tall ceilings, and display all of their antiques and found pieces. However, windows are just one of the features that make this apartment the right home for the couple. It also allows them to find a happy work-life balance; they find enjoyment in being near friends, having easy access to work, and having a space that supports their love for antiques, books, and plant life.

“It’s conveniently located between where our friends live across Brooklyn, Lily’s full-time job in Midtown Manhattan, and we love our cozy neighborhood spots like Pearl’s Social & Billy Club and La Cantine,” they wrote. “We work a lot! Llew runs his tattoo studio in a separate space on the first floor of the building. Lily works from home in both fashion and holistic nutrition right now. We spend a lot of time in our apartment, and New York is a place where it’s hard to find personal space, so we want our apartment to feel like our home.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: We’ve both moved around a lot, now landing in NY for almost six years, which is hard to believe. The only things that we’ve held onto through the moves are antique. We lean towards warmer colors, leather, and wood. Lily is from Minnesota, while Llew moved around between Mexico, the Southwest, Minnesota, and more, so our space tends to look like a mix of our previous homes.

Inspiration: We’ve collected pieces for our apartment to pair with the pieces that we’ve kept through moves. I have a set of monogrammed trunks from my great grandfather, which have seen a lot, and Llew collects antiques. We like to go to flea markets, where we’ve found a few treasures.

Favorite Element: We have become a two-couch household. Llew happened to be moving studios, with an extra couch and nowhere to put it, so we brought it into our living room. Now we can spread out and our guests always have space to sit. We’ll never go back to having only one couch. 

Biggest Challenge: Living in a small Brooklyn space can be a challenge. If you collect things, they accumulate quickly and personal space as a couple can be interesting. We have a tiny oven (meant for RVs) with unreliable temperature settings, and Lily cooks a lot, so that can be a challenge, especially for baking bread. We both love clothing, so more closet space would be nice. If we could change anything else about this apartment, we’d add a full bathtub, add a real bedroom door for a bit of separation, and maybe find a quieter upstairs neighbor. Also, we have too many books. 

Proudest DIY: Our friend Rob Bezrutczyk runs a CNC fabrication studio, Thirdkind Studio (and Instagram here) in Bushwick. He created custom pieces for us that elevated our space including kitchen shelves, bedroom shelving, light fixtures, and a curtain rod. We don’t know what we would have done without his skills and perfectionism. Beyond that, we tore out the cheap and completely worn down “IKEA-looking” bathroom fixtures and replaced them with vintage pieces, which helped a lot.

Biggest Indulgence: As we’ve mentioned, we love our vintage couches. Llew collects antiques and oddities, which can be fragile items to handle and maintain, especially with three active cats prancing around. Lily has a slight addiction to ceramic mugs, but Llew has cut her off from buying more… for now.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Lily is an introvert and Llew is an extrovert, so when it comes to finding personal space and alone time in a small Brooklyn space, Llew goes out on the town often, giving Lily some time to decompress in the form of face masks, home cooking, and reading.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Having moved quite a few times, we’ve learned that the cheap things we’ve purchased in the past just to make do get thrown out quickly, so we no longer buy them. Buy timeless pieces that you plan to keep for life and don’t bother with the rest. 

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

Chinasa Cooper

Contributor

Chinasa is a photographer from New York City who loves to capture those details that make your event, your product, your home true to you.

This Illustrator’s Australian Rental Will Make You Want a Gold Fringe Wall, Too

This Illustrator’s Australian Rental Will Make You Want a Gold Fringe Wall, Too

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Name: Ginger Taylor, and Toast and Cocopops, my chihuahuas
Location: Thornbury, Australia
Type of Home: Two-bedroom apartment
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Full-time freelance illustrator and mural artist Ginger Taylor made the move to the Melbourne area from Sydney at the beginning of 2020. “I had a breakup and basically packed my car moved overnight,” Ginger explains. “It was a weird time to do so because it was the beginning of Covid and I left all my friends and family behind in Sydney. I thought ‘I have a lot of friends in Melbourne it’ll be great,’ but little did I know we were to go into lockdown for seven months. I have never lived alone so I was nervous of how it would go. Thankfully I LOVE it.”

Ginger says her job — where she creates digital and analog design skills to graphic design, typography, logos, custom illustrations, products, murals, and more — is her favorite part of her life. Three times a week her assistant and shop manager, Georgia, comes to work in the apartment. But she shares her two-bedroom apartment full time with two very cute chihuahuas, Toast and Cocopops. “Toast is the spawn of Satan and also the sweetest baby you’ll ever meet. Cocopops is a little old man Chi with a giant heart of gold,” Ginger says. “I adopted Toast shortly after I moved in. We had a great time in lockdown. He loved having me around and I stayed busy by painting, decorating, cleaning, drawing, sculpting, playing dress up, cooking, etc. I never got bored; I actually found it incredible to be on my own and have a minute to create without the normal pressures of everyday life.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would say my style would be sit somewhere in-between 1960s-1970s with a dash of Americana, country music, neon signage, and old motels.

Inspiration: Old Hollywood and Palm Springs architecture, Jayne Mansfield’s house, the Playboy mansion, 1970s decor, log cabins, and old motels. Particularly American ones.

Favorite Element: My Roy Rogers’ guitar, neon pink rabbit lamp, and my tiny things collection.

Proudest DIY: I love the gold fringe wall in my studio. I ordered party photo backdrops off Amazon and layered them — it’s perfect for renting because they just have an adhesive strip on the back. I wanted to have a wall that stood out for taking merch photos of my products. And now I want to do it to every wall!

Biggest Indulgence: I bought a [countertop] dishwasher cause I HATE doing the dishes. It’s a bit more expensive to live alone so that would be my biggest indulgence. But I’ve had a fair share of roommate horror stories so I am happy to pay more haha.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I have my studio in the bigger bedroom instead of my bed. I just spend way more time in the studio and there’s alotttttt of stationery/stock that goes behind my job. I also have my easel in my lounge room because I like to separate admin from painting. If I painted in my studio I would get distracted by emails, etc. With it in my lounge I can listen to TV, music, or a podcast and make endless cups of tea cause it’s right next to the kitchen.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My Google Home is my favorite — as someone with ADHD my mind is always pretty cluttered so having Google Home is incredible because I can research, play music, check the time, appointments, dates, etc. without having to get my phone out (which can create a WORLD of distractions.) I have a speaker in each room, too, so I can play music throughout the house and if I’m listening to a podcast I don’t have to pause it every time I leave a room. Plus you can make it make goat noises, which is always entertaining. That and my cordless vacuum. ADHD chore-helpers, I call them.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Build up! I stack shelves on top of each other all the way to the roof so I can create a display without having to take up too much floor space. I also like thinking outside the box like hanging all my sunnies on a piece of string. My home might seem manic and overwhelming but if you look closely everything is VERY organized! I always know where everything is.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice?

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

This 1910 Long Island Home Has Fun with Color While Exuding Sophistication

This 1910 Long Island Home Has Fun with Color While Exuding Sophistication

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Name: Kate Pearce, husband Billy, kids 3-year-old Josie, 8-year-old Eva, and rescue dogs Figs and Ripley
Location: Long Island, New York
Size: 1800 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

Kate Pearce is so good at designing a home with gorgeous vintage finds, she was able to use her home — like this large Long Island house she and her husband have owned for four years — to launch her business, Kate Pearce Vintage. “I work with home decor and design brands to promote their products on my blog and social channels. I occasionally take on design consultations, as well as social media consultations, and am always talking design and old home reno on my blog,” Kate explains. This isn’t the first time Kate’s home has been featured on Apartment Therapy (we toured it when they first moved in, and have shown a few sneak peeks earlier this year). But for this month (which is Color Month on Apartment Therapy), I wanted to feature the house’s current, most recent iteration. It’s the perfect mix of color and neutrals that may inspire your own home’s color palette.

Kate and her husband, Billy, actually bought this house while awaiting the arrival of their second daughter, 3-year-old Josie. “Our previous home was a small beach bungalow that we lived in with our first daughter and our two dogs, but we knew we needed more space,” Kate begins. “The problem was, our budget wasn’t any larger. When we found our home, we knew immediately it was the one. It checked all the boxes: 1. Larger footprint 2. Old (our home was built in 1910 and I have always wanted to live in an older home). 3. Fixer upper (which meant the price was right, but we could also put our own imprint on the home).”

“We bought our home four years ago almost to the day, and we’ve been working on it ever since. Billy does all the electric, plumbing, and nearly all the construction. I am the painter, the designer, and occasionally I’ll throw down some tiles and bang a hammer. It’s been a collaborative effort, but our home is finally looking like how we imagined it would when we moved in.” You can see more of Kate’s home by following on her on Instagram, @katepearcevintage, as well as TikTok and her website.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is eclectic and what I like to describe as a “restrained maximalism” that is rooted in vintage and art. I love being surrounded by my estate sale and thrift store finds, so I embrace a lot of open shelving. That said, I am constantly editing my spaces to make sure they feel interesting without feeling cluttered.

Inspiration: I take inspiration from everywhere; nature, art, and other designers such as Justina Blakeney, Sarah Sherman Samuel, and many others. But the place I find the most inspiration is from my vintage finds. More often than not, an entire room is spawned from an unexpected estate sale or thrift store find.

Favorite Element: Ironically, my favorite thing about my home is one of the only things that has remained unchanged since we bought it: the large Japanese Maple on our front lawn. I’ve designed all the rooms that look out onto the tree with the tree in mind, culminating with our attic bathroom. When we renovated the attic I placed a large picture window looking out onto the Japanese Maple tree top and placed the clawfoot tub directly in front of it. By far, my favorite spot to be in my home is in that tub, looking out to that tree.

Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge was our kitchen renovation. We had to take down walls, FOUR layers of old flooring, and we even had to take down the ceiling. It was our first major renovation and we tackled it all on our own, so it was a huge learning curve. We worked on it with every free minute we had for four and a half months. It was hell. But in the end, it was worth it!

Proudest DIY: I think our proudest DIY is one we are just finishing up now. We are in the midst of completing a speakeasy space in our previously unfinished basement and we created a custom banquette from scratch. We did channeled upholstery on the entire thing, and we had never upholstered before!

I come up with the DIY ideas, and Billy is the one to implement them. I think one of my favorite ideas was when we took a vintage library card catalog and turned it into the sink in our primary bathroom. Billy was able to make it a floating console and I love how it came out!

Biggest Indulgence: Our biggest indulgence was our attic renovation. It was a completely unfinished space and we transformed it into our primary bedroom and bath. We worked with a lot of brands to get sponsored content, and did all of the labor on our own, but even WITH those things offsetting the cost, it was still more than we probably should have spent on an attic space. I also  don’t think we were fully prepared for that cost heading into it. That said, it was TOTALLY worth it. It’s one of the most used spaces in our home, and by far my favorite. And having our own bathroom and not sharing a bath with two young girls has been absolutely life-giving.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We are mere days from finishing our most recent project — a basement speakeasy/brewery space. Billy loves brewing his own beer, but never had enough space in this house to set up all his equipment. Our basement was entirely unfinished, cold, damp, full of bugs — basically the stuff of nightmares. We decided to carve out an area of the basement to build walls, add plumbing, electric, heat… all the things, and build the brewery from a space that previously felt unusable. We’re very excited about how it’s coming along, and this space may even eclipse the attic as our favorite yet!

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Anything vintage! I love buying vintage pieces because not only are they the best way to make your home unique, it’s also a win for the planet. It’s really an all-around win: lower prices, saving pieces from landfills, and creating a home that is personal and unique. Just be sure to shop directly from the thrift or estate sales for the lowest prices. Facebook Marketplace is another favorite.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Pare down your belongings and buy less is a big one. When we renovated our kitchen I was set on having open shelving, but that meant less cabinets to hide things in. I ended up bringing about half of what was in my kitchen to the thrift store, and storing another ¼ in our basement and only keeping the things we use at least once/week in our kitchen. Another small space tip is to buy furniture with built-in storage. For example, our sectional sofa has storage in the chaise and we have a couple of storage ottomans.

What most people get wrong about using color in their home: I think most people think you need to be all in or all out when it comes to color. When I peruse Instagram I always feel like a bit of a misfit. Most other design accounts I follow are entirely neutral, or very colorful. I like to think that my designs show that you can have some fun with color, while still maintaining a feeling of sophistication. But also to be mindful that color often demands more attention than neutral pieces, and you don’t need much of it to make a big statement.

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? The first thing I’d say is to maintain consistency with what types of color you want to use in a space. It’s OK to use different colors, but keep them in the same family. For example, make a room all pastels, or all jewel tones, etc. The next trick is to use the same color at eye level, below eye level, and above eye level. It helps carry your eye around the room and makes pops of color feel more intentional. The last tip I’d give is to be mindful that your room is your canvas. This is simply my own opinion, but I think color is most effective when it complements neutrals. Most of my spaces have about ¾ neutrals and ¼ color, but many people still strongly associate my spaces with color.

What’s your favorite wall paint color of all time: Graham & Brown’s Highcliffe Rock — it’s a light blue that reads as a neutral, but with just enough saturation to make it stand out. I love it in a matte finish. It’s both calming and versatile.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? You can make a room look twice as good for half the cost by buying secondhand. Instead of spending hundreds on a framed print for wall art, check out your local estate sales and thrift stores to score some original art for the same price or less. Instead of dropping $80 on a coffee table book at a retail store, keep your eye out at garage sales to score the same book for just a dollar or two. I’d say about 85 percent of the decor in my home is secondhand, and I think it is the sole reason I can afford to make my house look the way it does, but also the reason why my home feels like it represents me as an individual.

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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