Even though I’ve been living in my house for six months now, I still occasionally find myself nostalgic for my apartment. It was the first place I ever lived in by myself. When I moved in, I had an idea it would be the last place I’d live before I bought I house — I just didn’t expect that to be less than 2 years later!
Before I moved out, I made sure to take some photos of the apartment. Living there definitely came with highs and lows, but I enjoyed making the space my own. Hopefully some of these photos can give you some inspiration if you’re also decorating or organizing a small apartment!
Some details about my old apartment: it is a third-floor walkup in a dog-friendly building that was recently updated, but originally built at the turn of the 20th century. I also rented a corner unit, which meant the natural lighting in the kitchen and bedroom is 💯 I lived in East Kensington, near a coffee/comic book shop and tattoo parlor, and really enjoyed my time in the neighborhood.
For additional context, I moved in following a breakup in which my former partner and I shared a large house, so unlike most twenty-somethings, I was attempting to downsize. Anyway, here’s a brief walkthrough of the apartment:
My apartment door opened up to my living room. For seating, I bought a gray sleeper sofa from Wayfair and green wingback chair (a hand-me-down, but originally from Target). Above, I hung some of my favorite photographs I’ve taken around Philadelphia, but printed them in black-and-white. My mom garbage-picked the side table and painted it white — it’s one of my favorite pieces. For extra storage in the living room, I used a white Kmart dresser as a tv stand. I acquired an IKEA shoe rack through my local Buy Nothing group. To accommodate it, I disassembled my coat rack and bought this accordion rack from Amazon.
The living room also had a crazy crowded white IKEA bookcase. I was blessed with high ceilings, so I placed a large framed front page from the 2003 World Series, originally from my dad, on top of the bookcase. This was the darkest corner of my entire apartment, but I still had enough light during the day for a silver pothos on the bookcase. Clearly, there was a bit of a green/teal color scheme happening.
When I think about it, my bedroom was actually pretty spacious! But I tried to cram way too many things inside — partly because of the lack of storage space, partly because I’m stubborn. Somehow I managed to fit in: a queen-sized bed, a side table, a chest of drawers and (another) small sleeper sofa. The side table, chest and sofa were all hand-me-downs from friends, because my friends are the best.
I tried a comforter and a duvet set before settling on an all-white quilt for the room. The comforter was just too much work to take to the laundromat (#glamorous), and the quilt was plain on both sides, therefore reversible and easy to bleach. For extra comfort, I added IKEA throw pillows and fuzzy husband from Target. I never got around to adding more decor to the walls by my bed, so it was just a canvas painting from a Paint Nite event on a large wall.
My mom and I hung a matching mirror above the chest, and on top of it I kept jewelry boxes, a picture frame, some small plants and a salt lamp. A mini-gallery wall took shape with a framed map of Colombia (my mom’s native country), a wooden map of Philadelphia and another small mirror and Aztec-inspired plate.
This blue sleeper sofa was my original couch, and I moved into my bedroom once I bought my gray Wayfair one. When it wasn’t covered by my laundry, it was another space for me or Arya (or any of our other dog visitors) to lounge. Above the sofa, we hung another small gallery wall and a larger framed print from Minted (you can read about both here).
My kitchen wasn’t too exciting, but I did love the two windows and I had a decent amount of counter space. While living in my apartment, I started to get into plants more (you may or may not have noticed), and most lived in the kitchen.
To take advantage of the light while maintaining privacy, I used cafe panels instead of longer curtains for my tall windows. A friend gave me papel picado (I love Mexican and other Latin American decor), which I hung in the kitchen for extra color.
Even less exciting than the kitchen, but hey, more plants! I made the macrame hanger for my pothos. Above the toilet, my mom and I hung frames I had in my teenage bedroom. They’e actually small puzzles of famous artworks that we put together and then glued to matting.
For extra storage, I added a corner shelf next to the sink. I picked it up sometime in college, and it has been essential in different living situations. Highly recommend picking one up, like this one from Amazon!
That’s about it. It was fun going back through these photos, because I kept almost everything from my apartment but found new ways to arrange and organize things in my house. Things are still coming together, but I see some room tours in this blog’s future! I hope this helps someone who is looking to decorate their first city apartment!