I am just about half way through my first one-year lease. Aside from my parents' house that I grew up in, I have never lived anywhere for as long as one year. And if my graduate school plans come through, I won't live here any longer than that. I have always been very fond of my living situations, but of course nothing compares to the first place that is really your own. So although my roommate Karin has already published extensive photos of our apartment, I can't help but give a little additional homage.
This poster is the perfect introduction to our pad. Karin bought it at the Union Square Market, and now it hangs in the hallway across from our bathroom door. It dates from Russia's early Communist days, and encourages women to work outside the home in factory jobs. It reads something like "An End to Kitchen Slavery!" so it is very appropriate for our kitchen-less abode. Plus, it shares the dominant color of our apartment: Red.
I recently bought House Beautiful's 750 Designer Secrets: Exclusive Design Ideas from the Pros. The "designer secrets" are actually often trite and conflicting bits of common sense, so it's a good thing I bought it for the pictures. But it does advise: "In a small room, keep the number of colors to a minimum, but make sure the main color is a strong one." This is undoubtedly what Karin and I have done in our apartment.
Karin set the scheme in her room before I moved in. Her furniture is white (dresser and bookshelf) or pale wood (table) to sort of blend in with the walls and floor. Red dominates the bed linens and gets picked up in the sconce, chairs, and drawer unit (foreground of the photo). She also draws attention to the height of the room by suspending a paper lantern from the sprinkler system, and hanging long gauzy curtains from the window. Outside her window is our terrace.
Far left is a picture of our terrace from last September, when it was all spruced up for our housewarming party. These days the view from my window looks more like the photo on the right.
You can see the neutrals with red accents scheme very clearly in the bathroom. We were confronted with white and black tiles, so we went with a white and black storage unit from Ikea and a black, grey and clear shower curtain. The round red rug is from Ikea via eBay, and it took some searching to actually find one in stock. The paper lantern was a Halloween gift from Karin's mom, who sends us regular installments of seasonal decorations. We also bought red towels and a red trashcan. We are so coordinated.
The first photo is the view of my room from the hallway door. I've taken a page out of Karin's book by getting big red linens for my bed. I even got the exact same curtains (from Ikea) and curtain rod (which required a pilgrimage to Target in the Bronx). For a nightstand I have another little red drawer unit from Ikea. Above my bed is a wall hanging that my Mom brought back from China, depicting a thousand little boys. It is supposed to bring good luck. The next picture shows the view to the left with my pullout-futon chair, which creates a very comfortable guest bed. Above it is an eighteenth-century map of DC that I got one year at my church bazaar. Between the bed and the chair is quite possibly the most useful item of furniture ever, a storage cube/end table/stool, also from Ikea. The next picture is the view to the right of my bed, further illustrating the white furniture with red touches look. The lamp is from, you guessed it, Ikea.
On the left we see our "kitchen" squeezed in between the door to my closet and my door to the hall. Despite the lack of a stove and separate sink, I have successfully made banana bread and carrot salad, but mostly I enjoy the excuse to not cook. A red paper lantern (also hung from the sprinkler system) sheds some light. In the background you can see our hall table (under another "good luck" wall hanging my Mom bought, this time in New Zealand). In the detail shot you can see that is supports a chalkboard "Coffee of the Week" sign from my days at Starbucks, which Karin and I use to write notes to each other, Karin's iHome, which is usually replaced by the mail, and some orchids, which have sadly passed on. That wonderful cloth is on loan from Danielle and covers a completely ugly and utilitarian bookshelf where we keep cleaning supplies.
750 Designer Secrets provides another gem: "Small spaces must be intentionally decorated because if they aren't, they make you feel like you're living in a shoe box." Karin and I (but mostly Karin) spent an incredible amount of time finding all those coordinating accessories, and our strict color scheme might strike some as a bit dogmatic. But I'm glad we went the extra mile. We managed to turn two tiny studios into a unified apartment that feels spacious, gracious, and most importantly, our own.