Apartment Transformation: Living Room


My little family of 3 lives in a small apartment. And when I say small, I mean small!

We live in a “one bedroom” apartment. I joke to everyone about it being a one bedroom because it’s more like a studio. It’s about 550 square feet for an astronomical price because, hey, it’s Orange County. We would give anything to move but it’s not so simple. So instead, I’ve been slaving away trying to make this tiny apartment feel like a million dollar home!

Now, I don’t actually have a million dollars to spend on decorating and organizing (that’s the dream, right?). So I shop at places like Homegoods, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, antique stores, and local boutiques.

I moved into this apartment at the beginning of my second year of law school, and since then, it has undergone lots of rearrangements. I started out with the living room in the designated dining room area and the dining room in the designated living room area. I loved having the living room in a smaller space because of the window. I would wake up early, as the sun was rising, and drink my coffee just staring out the window and preparing for class.

When Bret moved in, about a year later, we switched the dining and living room areas so that we had more room. My dining table was my grandma’s so it was large and took up a ton of space. So once we moved it to the smaller area, we rarely used it and it became a dumping area for things that didn’t have a spot. When I was pregnant and we needed to figure out where to put a baby and all her stuff, we gave the dining table to my sister’s mother-in-law and made that small area the baby “room”.

However, now, we have rearranged once again (and hopefully the last time before we move again). Now, Amelia is in the bedroom, the living room is back in the smaller space, and our bed is in the old living room (the bigger area). So when you walk in the front door, you’re basically walking into our bedroom, haha.

This backstory shows that we’ve literally tried every arrangement possible and, now, I think I’ve found the best way to organize and decorate a small space (more tips on that coming soon)!


Before Bret moved in, my home decor style was a mix of new and old. I had a lot of stuff from my grandparents and from childhood that I was trying to fit into a more modern set-up. If you were to walk into my first apartment, it had a modern 70’s vibe because I had pink floral couches that belonged to my grandma. I had Disney art on the walls, books everywhere, and nothing was cohesive at all.

After Bret moved in, I started thinking of the apartment as our home, not just mine, and I really wanted it to feel like a home we both enjoyed. I asked Bret was his vibe was and he said very sleek, modern, and simple. I basically already knew that because whenever I visited him his room consisted of a bed, dresser, and tv, nothing else. But where I found out what he really likes is when I asked him what his dream wedding would be and he said rustic and in a barn! This was my jumping off point because that was also my dream wedding and I knew I could play around with the farmhouse style and incorporate stuff I already had.

Our style is very farmhouse rustic with a touch of modernity. I love the look of wood and galvanized metal, but I also like sleek and polished looking things, basically I want to be Joanna Gaines, haha. I set out on a mission to figure out how to mesh the two vibes I was going for and, as you can see, I think I did that!


It took me a while to get a good sense of what I wanted this room to look like. The biggest struggle for us was the TV stand. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that Amelia was really enjoying taking all the DVDs and VHS tapes off the previous shelf we had (which is now in our bedroom). Originally I thought, “Bret is handy, he could just build some doors for the shelf.” But soon I realized that would never happen, we’d just never get around to it. So we made our way to Homegoods and found the one we have now and we love it! (You’ll notice in the picture that we have a cord around the door handles. We tried many different ways to keep her out. I even bought the baby proof kits but my handy man–ahem Bret–just never got around to it, so this is our quick fix). We have a lot of furniture so arranging it was key to not make it feel like such a small space.

The other struggle I had was the shelf unit. This shelf holds all my books, purses, jewelry, and some makeup so I had a hard time finding a cohesive setup that meshed well with the farmhouse look we were going for. But luckily, a trip to Hobby Lobby fixed that! I found a stand for my Scentsy warmer and baskets for my eyeshadow palettes which helped make the modern and farmhouse look cohesive.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this room turned out! I love the JFK picture on the wall. It’s one of my favorite pictures ever taken of a historical figure. I also really like that we were able to mesh the more modern looking things I have with the farmhouse feel. I added the flowers much later when I realized there needed to be something on the wall with JFK. I found these farmhouse vases at Hobby Lobby and played around with the different kinds of flowers. Eventually, I’ll put one kind of flower in both vases but I’m in no hurry to fix it. But I love the juxtaposition of the galvanized vases against the crisp black and white framed picture. Our dream home is a farmhouse with a ton of land out in the country and since we don’t have that, I think I captured the essence of it!


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