A number of readers have asked me several times to explain the process I use in doing a room from start to finish, so today I want to do just that…take you shopping with us and explain my thinking on our choices. It literally took the entire road trip to furnish our son’s apartment. It is still not quite finished, but I can show you what we have done. It’s close.
When Jonathan informed us last winter that he had signed a lease on a 180 sq. ft. apartment a couple of blocks from law school, I had a hard time visualizing the space (especially since he did not take any photos of it! ) So I really did not know what to expect when we walked into that room on Chapel Street, but it actually had a number of good things going for it (if you could wrap your head around the diminutive space.) First, it was clean. Secondly, it had a decent sized closet with a bonus storage space built in above it and a sturdy large wooden step stool to reach it. We jokingly called the extra storage his “attic.”
It had beautiful wood floors (no nasty carpet!) It had interesting architectural trim, and the room had just been newly painted a nice neutral cream color. I was dying to paint all that wonderful trim a contrasting glossy white though to make it stand out. (I didn’t.)
The previous tenant had left behind a bookshelf, (in the top photograph) an additional dorm refrigerator, and a metal floor lamp. We had not packed a lot of things for the apartment. Our little suv was filled mainly with books, (and more books!) kitchen supplies, a few lamps, two framed vintage fish prints (the only art of which he “approved”) all of our son’s clothing, a down comforter, and his camping gear. (Doesn’t everyone take camping gear with them to law school?? 😉 )
The first night there we simply unloaded everything, measured spaces and windows, and made shopping lists. The next morning bright and early we did what every college family does….we headed to Ikea. Thank goodness there was one a 15 minute drive from the apartment!
I took a couple of “extra” photos for you so that you could enjoy their model kitchens.
Okay, the original plan had been to get a desk, a desk chair, a futon and a loft bed that the futon would sit under. The thinking on all of this was What would be the most functional items – yet still allow for comfort? Unfortunately, the futon that was on sale was out of stock, so with budget in mind, Jonathan ended up choosing a more expensive one – the Beddinge Lovas – and he did not get a loft bed.
When I am doing a room, I normally find something that gives me a direction. It might be a fabric or some unique accessory or a favorite color. At this point, we were starting totally from scratch with our son’s apartment, but because he/we chose the gray cover for the futon, our color scheme finally had a starting point from which we could build.
Our son did not think he had room for a table and a desk, so the desk won out on that purchase. He chose the dark gray Alex desk with space to manage the cords.
Because he would be spending a lot of time working at his desk, (and eating there) and he has a shoulder that gives him trouble, he wanted to find a desk chair that was well built and provided good support. After playing Goldilocks in every chair in the store, he settled on the Markus swivel chair….in gray.
At this point I said that he needed an end table of some sort beside the futon so that he would have a place to sit snacks or a tv remote or books, and we both agreed that it did not need to be gray. Because the knobs on the kitchen cabinets were red, I suggested red, and we began to search for a red end table or cabinet of some kind. We were having no luck finding one in our price range when I remembered seeing a child’s play table set in red in the Atlanta Ikea, so we headed to the children’s play furniture and found one for $25. Perfect!
Because I was afraid that there would not be enough room in the car, I told my husband and son to just leave me at the store for more shopping and for them to take the large furniture items back to the apartment. They did just that, and while they were gone, I searched for a rug, drapes, throw pillows, and a duvet cover in either gray or red. (All the fun stuff.) When they returned, we agreed upon this rug…
I showed our son this duvet cover for the comforter his grandmother had purchased for him,
and he said, “No way. That looks like I’m at home.”
We did agree on this one:
I then told him that he had to add more red, so we picked up a red throw and a couple of red throw pillows. As we were wandering around the store, we came upon this oversized floor lamp, and we both immediately LOVED it. It was quite impressive.
It reminded me of this one at Restoration Hardware
(at a much better price!)
This was a splurge but soooo much better than the little metal one that had been left in his room. We also found a table lamp and a desk lamp that were vast improvements over the ones we had brought from home, so we got them as well. The lamps from home came back to the house with us. I am sure our daughter will use them when she moves to another apartment next year. (We also brought home the fish prints. You’ll see why in a minute.)
Our son does not like drapes, but he really liked the Roman shades at Oakhurst Inn. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly find custom made Roman shades at Ikea for a 40” x 72” window.So we decided to wait on that. We took all our purchases back to the apartment, got some lunch, and then made a run to Target for a vacuum cleaner and a zillion other utilitarian things. The rest of the day was spent with my patient saint of a husband doing this….
He and our son had to assemble all of the furniture plus all of the lamps. Not their favorite thing to do. I unpacked all the kitchen items, got them into the few cabinets there, and set up the bathroom things. Late that night, everything was finished and in its place. Functional, but not decorated.
The next day we left New Haven and headed to Maine to start the vacation part of the journey. If you have been following along on our road trip this month, you are going to see how it helped to finish our son’s apartment. First stop? L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine.
I found this pillow in the L.L. Bean Home Store, and knowing how our son loves dogs, and the fact that it was red, I crossed my fingers that he would like it. He was over in the flagship store, so I called him to come take a look. Hallelujah he liked it! I then had a direction for accessories. Yes!
(L.L.Bean does not sell it online, but you can order it here.)
After Freeport, we headed to Whitehall in Camden, Maine with a day spent driving through Bar Harbor and Acadia. On the way to Acadia, do you remember we stopped at that fabulous Rooster Brother kitchen shop? Their outlet room was where I found this cute jar for his kitchen (to put the cookies in that we mail him. ) I also decided that he needed to replace the hanging dish drain in that apartment with a metal shelf for more storage space… more on that later.
A day exploring the shops in Camden led me to these goodies at the wonderful Jo Ellen Designs. They were going on that red end table.
After Camden, we traveled to Stowe, Vermont. Remember Juniper…that precious paper and gift shop? Our son bought postcards there…not “dog related,” but they had red in them. Here is what I did with them for his apartment. (Sorry for the very blurry photo.)
And after Stowe and Waterbury we returned to New Haven, and that brings us back to where we are in this post now…full circle. I had been thinking about the lack of storage space for food in our son’s apartment while we were traveling. So we made another run to Ikea that night for a piece of furniture to handle that and a metal shelf for the kitchen. While there, I found another piece of art – perfect for the space. (Another fuzzy photo.)
The next day we made another run to Target for picture frames and a few office type supplies. The Ikea storage piece was assembled, the artwork framed and hung, the shelf hung and put to work, and we called it a day. Would you like to see the almost-finished-functional-but-not-decorated-tiny-apartment?
Behind the door is this kitchen cabinet.
Here is the entire kitchen. I really wish I had hung a piece of stainless steel above the stove for ease of cleaning. (But who knows how much actual cleaning a student in law school really does?) Yes, the microwave is high, but there is no counter space for it, and his step stool is wide and works fine for it.
Our son put the bookshelf inside the closet to hold all of his books. The storage cabinet for food took its place in the room. If I could really decorate the space, I would hang art over that television. (All the red things are really red, not orange like the light plus camera makes it look here.)
Here is the desk area:
The small red end table…
And now the only “decorated” wall in the apartment. The striped pillows are actually our son’s bed pillows in the pillow cases that go with the duvet set. You can see how the road trip provided the accessories for the space. As our son gets bogged down in school work, I hope his apartment will be a reminder of our fun vacation (and of more good times to come. )
If you have read all 1600+ words here you deserve an A+. I hope this written thought-process has helped to explain how I go from a color and an idea to a room. Obviously, it helped to have a blank slate to begin with, but I have tweaked rooms in the same manner starting with colors and objects that are loved…think about the function of the room and go from there.
Our son’s apartment still needs a window treatment. As I mentioned, he really admired the Roman shades at both Oakhurst Inn and at Whitehall, so I am going to make some for him out of a gray print or stripe (although a red print might be good…still thinking on it.) Hopefully, this will work for the space. (The bathroom window is teeny-tiny!)
I have a couple more road trip posts that are really really house related. You are definitely going to want to be here for this. After we told our son good-bye in New Haven, my husband and I traveled here the next day:
This one will have to be a two-part post with the 500+ photos I took there. 😉
Until next time…