My nowhere-near-perfect super-great apartment

31 Jan

When I’m in a waiting room of any sort, the first magazines I’ll pick up are about home decorating. I spend a lot of time perusing Apartment Therapy. When I’m home, and have access to cable, I watch HGTV.

But I’m a renter who does not have piles of money to spend on redecorating an apartment that I probably won’t even live in for that long. I love having a home that makes me happy and comfortable, and I especially love not spending thousands of dollars to get it that way. So hello, The Internet, and here is a little photo tour of my lovely post-college apartment (okay, it’s my 4th apartment post-college, but I only graduated 19 months ago, so it counts).

Also, this post is super long. Just a warning.


When I first visited this apartment and saw the wood floors and built in shelves around the (non-functional) fireplace, plus the fact that it was in my price range, I knew I wanted to move in here. The layout of the living room is kinda awkward, with doors on three walls and the fireplace on the fourth, so furniture placement was tough but I’m fairly happy with how it’s set up. 


The only furniture I had when I moved in was a dresser, a shelving unit and a borrowed air mattress, so needless to say I was fairly desperate. But I am also picky, so I was couchless for a few weeks until this one showed up on Craigslist for $100. The color works, it’s in decent shape and it was the right size, so hooray for excellent finds! The coffee table and magazine tray were both super-cheap Goodwill finds, and I keep meaning to at least paint the top of it a more exciting color. I made the afghan that covers the couch with my Gramma, and she finished it just over a year before she passed away, so it’s one of my most prized possessions. I’m also very proud of my young self, because when we started this project I was going through my neon phase (yes, my room was neon green. yes, it was awesome) and yet I picked some more subdued colors since I knew even at 12 that this was the sort of thing I’d want to have in my home for decades and grown-ups don’t usually have neon blankets in their living rooms. I also used this to kind of pick my color palette for the room.


I put a collection of battery-powered candles (no fire hazard) in the fireplace, and set them on top of a cardboard box spray-painted black so they took up a little more space. They can even be put on a timer! The cards on the mantle were made by a friend of mine from Minnesota – I love having things around my apartment that remind me of important people in my life. The map on the wall was sold as gift wrap at a local store for $3 and I put it in a Target frame. Which doesn’t exactly fit, but oh well.

IMG_1960 IMG_1959

Here’s a closer look at the two corners of my living room. On the left side, I put some fabric behind the glass walls of the cabinets, since I keep just about everything on those shelves – camping supplies, tools, boots, extra lightbulbs – and it was super ugly to be able to see. The blue chair was an extra from my parents’ house and the I bought the ottoman (a storage cube) a few years ago for college. They didn’t really fit in with the rest of my decor, but when I added a throw pillow and put them together with the blue art, it seemed to work. The two paintings were done by a talented friend of mine, and show off my love of swing dancing – plus Seattle is in the background of one of them! The black piece was originally the front of a notebook, showing the neighborhood of Barcelona where I lived when I studied abroad. I cut it off and glued it to the front of a piece of art I got in middle school that just wasn’t my style anymore. It’s not perfect, but it was a free solution and I much prefer having it on my wall to in a drawer!

The right side was an empty corner until just last week (I moved in back in August) and I am so glad to finally have something there. I found this cool chair, which is covered in burlap, for $50 on Craigslist, after checking the site every day for weeks. I’m both very picky about my furniture and also very cheap (seeing as I’ll probably end up getting rid of most of it in the not-too-distant future in order to move again) and I’ve found that the best solution is to stalk Craigslist obsessively until you see what you want. I hung up a vest my other grandparents (hi!) brought back for me from India(?) when I was in first grade – found a frame at Goodwill for $2! The vest has been living in various closets for 15 years, so I’m glad to finally have it on display. The decorative hangers were also gifts from them.


This little table stands next to the door as a “landing strip” to keep my mail and keys and change. It’s actually an old sewing table (from Goodwill) and the tray, which was really ugly but my dad spray-painted it for me, covers the hole where the sewing machine used to sit. The art was done by the same friend who made the greeting cards, and the lamp was the main thing I took from my Gramma’s place after she died, and I love it.


Sunroom! Or, more accurately, home gym/yoga studio/office/guest bedroom/reading nook. I love that I have this extra space in my apartment, and have definitely tried to take full advantage of it. The treadmill, hence you think I am one of those fancy treadmill people and not the penny-pinching postgrad I claim to be, was $40 off Craigslist.

IMG_1953 IMG_1954

I LOVE this desk. It was a hand-me-down (I got lucky and my parents were able to drive over most of the furniture that had been in my room growing up. Which is now empty, so that’s weird). A lot of that furniture came from grandparents and great-grandparents, so it’s neat stuff. The chair also came from my parents, and since it was yellow I decided to go with yellow for the room. The picture is of my great-grandma (who I never met) on her wedding day in 1933. Oh, and the plant is fake because I kill plants. Goodwill.

I was very excited to realize a twin bed would fit perfectly in this space, and bought this one for $60 from a friend of mine who was upgrading to a bigger size. The bedding is all cheapo Walmart stuff, except for the pillows I already had, and the rug came from another friend because it didn’t match her space anymore. I spend a lot of time sitting here watching Netflix and reading, and I particularly like it since there is very little natural light in the living room, so this is a great place to watch snow. And even though I’ve only used it as a guest room twice, it feels a lot more grown-up to offer people a bed than just a couch to crash on.

IMG_1962 IMG_1963

This is my bathroom. It’s pretty boring, because it’s a bathroom, but it’s also the room that would probably change the least if I had piles of money. I like the colors, and the hand towels in a basket were my mom’s idea that I think works really well. The shower doors are glass, but hanging a fabric curtain in front of them really helped the room look a lot better. I bought the bird from Target for one of my college bedrooms and it’s lived in a wide variety of places since then, but I think it fits here fairly well.


This little dresser lives outside my bathroom and is a lifesaver. There’s very little storage in the apartment (those glass-front shelves in the living room, the kitchen cupboards, and a very small closet in the bedroom) so this is home to a lot of things – scarves, shoes, extra toilet paper, sweaters, an iron, toiletries. Plus it gives me a place to slide my drying rack and ironing board behind. The photos are pictures of my alma mater, Gonzaga, taken by two of my friends – and then published in our yearbook, from which I ripped them out and framed them. Frugality win.


This is my kitchen – I’ve lived in some places where it seemed like the kitchen could never really get clean, so I appreciate that it’s all white appliances and cupboards. I went with red and white mostly because I had an unused bottle of hang soap that was red, multi-colored dishes, and no other kitchen supplies. So why not base my color scheme off my soap? I had a set of four dish clothes from my grandparents (they of the vest), and here they are used as curtains, a mini-tablecloth, and an actual dish towel on the oven. I tell myself this ties the room together.


A friend bought this bar table and stools at a garage sale, but it didn’t fit her space so I bought it from her. It makes for a great eating area when I’m the only one here, but if I have guests we usually eat in the living room. I framed a little Minnesota postcard to decorate, and have two mugs and a family photo on the shelf. I tell myself that, with the red towels, they make a nice vignette.


The famous soap! Plus a cool Washington cutting board (from those same grandparents) that I keep on display and then use as a platter when I’m hosting. Sugar & flour on the shelf in jars, plus a weird Beanie Baby red bird on the high shelf, because why not? I keep my dishes in the glass cupboard, because they look halfway decent, and food down below, because it does not.


And finally, this is my bedroom! This is where the hand-me-down furniture really came in, well, handy – the bed, dresser and nightstand were all given to me. The quilt was in my parents’ house and was originally meant for a king size bed (I have a full), but who ever complained about having too much blanket? I am still planning to eventually put some art over my bed.


This little area is home to my hair things and makeup. The wire shelves were left behind in my college house by a previous tenant, and since they and the boxes all fold flat, this setup has traveled with me to many different homes. The picture was a gift sophomore year, and features a bunch of my friends holding up lyrics to a Taylor Swift song. It’s one of my favorite things.


I keep my jewelry on this bulletin board, because for some reason standard jewelry organizers assume you only own six necklaces. It’s super simple (bulletin board, scrapbook paper, ribbon, pushpins) and keeps everything untangled and lets me actually remember what I own instead of wearing the same two things all the time, or going out to buy more.

So, that’s my little home. It doesn’t look like something out of Martha Stewart Living by any means, but it’s a place I’m always happy to come home to. I love seeing what other people have done with their spaces (especially rentals on reasonable budgets) so if you have photos on your blog, leave me a link!


9 Responses to “My nowhere-near-perfect super-great apartment”

  1. autumnkovachak February 1, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    Oh my gosh. It looks SO cozy (and spacious)! I wish I could visit! 🙂

    • laurenkcampbell February 1, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

      Haha im sure I have a lot more room than you do! You should post a couple pictures of your place!

      • autumnkovachak February 2, 2015 at 6:40 am #

        Yeah, maybe I’ll do a blog post about the Webster…

  2. Found This Painted That February 1, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    I think you’ve done pretty darn well -except for the TV in front of that window! (Sorry, pet peeve)
    Getting any place the way we want it takes time. I still change things up with little or no money. If we could buy everything we wanted right away, our places wouldn’t have near as much personality!

    • laurenkcampbell February 2, 2015 at 8:54 am #

      Haha! There wasn’t really other space for it, especially since it only serves as a bigger screen when I hook it up to my computer 🙂 But I agree, not the greatest look.

  3. Post Grad Professional February 1, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    I love this apartment. It looks so cozy and welcoming! Have definitely found a lot of cheap ideas for mine on pinterest and discount stores.

  4. Glenna January 31, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    You are such a fabulous mix of practicality and sentimentality. I find you irresistible.

    • laurenkcampbell January 31, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

      Aww, thank you! I appreciate you reading all my blathering!


  1. How the Hedonic Treadmill Will Steal Your Money and Your Happiness | Stacking Twenties - June 25, 2015

    […] in my apartment (I did a blog post a while ago that was an “apartment tour,” it’s here) and look around and remember to appreciate things, like my wood floors and original art from my […]

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