Home Tour: Living In And Loving Our Small Apartment!

It’s finally here, today is the day I welcome you all into our home! We live in a small one-bedroom apartment in Chicago, so we don’t have tons of space, everything is a bit smushed together, and it’s really cozy whenever we have guests over…but we make it work. The lack of space didn’t stop us from turning this tiny apartment into a home we love to live in!

So let’s start in the kitchen!

Practically Functional Home Tour:  Living in and loving a small apartment!

It may seem a bit silly to start in the kitchen rather than outside the front door, but we don’t have a porch or anything pretty and our front door is just a plain black door off the second story landing of our apartment building, and it’s pretty boring. Plus we almost never use our front door anyway! We use the door in the kitchen that leads out to the alley behind the apartment about 95% of the time, so this is the first room we see most days, and therefore it’s the first room on the tour!

This kitchen is what made me fall in love with this apartment when we were looking a few years ago. It’s a galley kitchen with counters on both sides, so it’s nice and big with lots of counter space! The last apartment we were in had 2 feet of counter space (no joke!), so cooking in this kitchen is a huge improvement!

Practically Functional Home Tour:  Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Wallpapered cabinets  //  Towel bar as a pot lid holder

I just finished wallpapering the cabinets a few weeks ago, and I think it makes a huge difference in the kitchen. The whole room feels a lot brighter and cheerier now! And yes, that is a pallet down there at the end near the back door. I’m using it as a “lumber rack” right now to store odd bits of wood I have leftover from my projects, because we don’t have a basement or a garage!

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Rustic Pallet Shelf  //  Herb Drying Rack  //  Built-In Craft Desk

At the other end of the kitchen is the dine-in area, but we don’t ever actually use that space for dining. It’s basically my “craft room”! And yes, I hoard glass bottles of all shapes and sizes! And because I haven’t yet found them a better home, they live on top of our portable dishwasher. 🙂

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Built-In Craft Desk  //  Summer Flower Bunting  //  Herb Drying Rack

When we first moved in we put our small dining table in that space, but we never really used it for eating. So I used it for crafting!. And, to tell you the truth, we still eat like college students, either on the couch watching TV or at our individual desks while we work on our computers, so the lack of an official dining space didn’t bother us that much! When we realized that, we got rid of the dining table and I built a giant craft desk into the space. And it’s so much more functional than that round table! Plus the white color helps to brighten up the kitchen even more!

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Built-In Craft Desk  //  Indoor Herb Garden

Looking back into the dining area/craft room you can see some of my plants in the windows! We have six little potted herbs that make up our indoor herb garden, and they live in the three kitchen windows.

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

JM’s desk is the first thing you see when you walk in to the living room from the kitchen, and as you turn to the left you can see the rest of the room and my desk in the corner near the window.

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Living Room Refresh On A Budget  //  DIY Magnetic White Board  //  DIY Clock Makeover  //  Disney Countdown Blocks

We just recently refreshed this living room as part of a challenge for Better Homes & Gardens, and I’m loving how it turned out! We got rid of the big red rug under the coffee table and put a brown slipcover on the red couch, and the room feels much bigger and brighter now! It’s still a little cluttered just because the space is small and we have a lot of stuff, but it’s so much more open without that rug!

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Living Room Makeover On A Budget  //  DIY Cat Climbing Shelves

Plus the brown slipcover really helps make the room less red and yellow!

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: How To Stencil A Wall  //  Photo Transfers Made Easy  //  DIY Laundry Drying Rack

This is the view looking at the room from the front door of the apartment. It’s sort of bare when you look at it this way, but you can pretty much see the entire apartment from right here, so I figured it was worth including so you get an idea of the size of our apartment. The closet behind JM’s desk is SUPER messy right now, so I just slid both doors shut for the photo. But the cat’s litter box is in the closet so we usually leave one door open so they can get in and out. The black rubber mat is really kinda ugly, but it works so well to keep the litter box area clean that I’m totally willing to deal with it being an eyesore. 🙂

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Keeping The Litter Box Area Clean

The little hallway leads to the bathroom, bedroom, and linen closet. I stenciled a few dandelions on the wall last year, but when they installed the electric heaters in the apartment a few months ago, they had to cut a hole in that wall to install them. After they fixed the hole, they painted over part of the dandelions and I haven’t gotten around to touching it up yet. 🙂

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: DIY Laundry Drying Rack

The bedroom is straight ahead, the bathroom is on the right, and the door on the left is a linen closet. It turns out that I’m allergic to our cats (oops! Didn’t know that when we adopted them!) so we have to keep them out of our bedroom so they don’t shed all over my pillow and so they don’t run around like banshees at night while we’re trying to sleep. We tried for a while to just keep the bedroom door shut, but it got too hot and stuffy in there since we only have the one little window A/C unit in the living room. So we bought a screen door from a hardware store, got a few hinges, and installed it right onto the door frame! Now we can keep the cats out while still allowing some air flow into the room. (It’s really ugly unfinished wood, I know…yet another project I just haven’t gotten around to yet!)

Off to the left is the linen closet.

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

When we first moved in it was completely bare, literally just a closet with no shelves or anything. So we went to the hardware store and bought a few adjustable shelves and brackets and made our own “custom shelving unit” so we could take advantage of the vertical space in the closet. I organized the upper shelves with some black plastic baskets and put a small wire shelving unit on the ground to store linens.

I have a mini gift wrapping station on the back of the closet door where I hung our gift wrap and ribbons etc. and the long skinny fabric thing is a plastic bag holder that my grandmother made. We live right in the middle of Chicago, so we don’t have a car, and we don’t need one! We use that little roll-y cart whenever we do “big” shopping trips, and other than that we usually just grab a reusable bag or two and carry stuff home in them whenever we make a quick run to the corner store or farmer’s market.

Opposite the linen closet is the bathroom.

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: DIY Wall-Mounted Storage Cups

Our bathroom is probably my favorite room because it’s the only one in our entire apartment that is actually decorated with purpose! I’m not very good at interior design, but I think because the bathroom is such a small space, I was able to “decorate” and make it all match and coordinate without feeling overwhelmed. 🙂

Also, I love the bathroom because there’s a window in the shower! The window is frosted, don’t worry, but it still lets in a TON of light, which makes the whole room bright.

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: DIY Wall-Mounted Storage Cups  //  Bath Shelf From A Pallet

However, that pedestal sink is the bane of my existence!!! I’m so used to being able to store stuff under the sink, but not in this bathroom. Except for the tiny cabinet behind the mirror there is zero storage space. So we bought a wire shelf stand for behind the toilet and it has helped immensely. I wrote a post rounding up 18 storage ideas for small bathrooms and I definitely need to implement a few more of those, but for now that shelf is really helping! Plus I can store the bath shelf I made from a pallet right next to it so it’s always handy whenever I want to take a bath. Perfect!

At the end of the hallway is our bedroom.

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

This room is definitely NOT “decorated” at all. The nightstands and lamps are bright red, my dresser is black, JM’s dresser is white, and the closet bar and shelf that I installed in the room are still plain, untreated wood. But, remember the brown and blue color scheme in the bathroom? Well I did at least get matching bed linens! One of these days I’ll get the entire apartment coordinating with itself. 🙂

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Embroidered Map Art

We put the bed on risers in order to give us some more storage space underneath; you can see a few framed photos peeking out from underneath. We actually just rearranged this room recently… The bed used to be up against the wall on the right, and the embroidered map of our honeymoon was centered above it. But we moved the bed against the other wall and now the map looks kinda lonely over there by itself and the wall above the bed is totally bare and boring. But that’s where the framed photos come in! There are actually nine of them and they are all Ansel Adams photos (love!!!) that JM’s mother sent us a few months back. We haven’t found time to hang them up yet, but we’re planning to fill that space above the bed with those beauties when we get a few free minutes!

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

In this photo: Craft Supply Organization  //  Tin Can Snowman  //  Fall Wreath Chandelier  //  Painted Birch Bark Vase

At the foot of our bed is my craft storage area. Yes, JM lets me keep all of my craft supplies in our bedroom because he is the best husband ever!!! All of my craft supplies that aren’t in the built-in craft desk or the living room closet are here, plus I use these shelves to store some out of season decor (hello little snowman!) until it’s time to put that stuff out again.

Our bedroom is just a room with four walls; it doesn’t have any built-in closets, so I made my own!

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

(You guys should have seen this side of the room a month ago…I have a serious shoe addiction and they were overflowing so I couldn’t even walk up to the bed! I donated about half of my shoes last month, but there are still a ton left on the ground here, in a hanging shoe rack you can just barely see on the left edge of the photo, and out in the living room in the shoe rack next to the bookcase. I have a problem!)

I should really put up a full tutorial post on this closet bar and shelf, but it was before I started blogging so I don’t have any pictures of the “before” or the process! We obviously did not want to hang our clothes in the main closet in the living room or in the linen closet, so we decided to just install our own closet bar. We bought a dowel and a long wooden board from a hardware store, found some studs in the wall, and installed it using L brackets and dowel holders.

The big blue buckets have things like duvet covers, winter clothes, extra pillows, and holiday decor in them. I labeled them with little Post-It notes so that we don’t have to pull all four down each winter when we need to switch out the clothes in our closet! (That, by the way, is another totally foreign concept to me! Growing up in CA I wore jeans and a t-shirt 365 days a year, and in the winter I maybe threw a sweatshirt on at nights when it got a little cold. Now I have two entirely different sets of clothes for summer and for winter. And because the bedroom is tiny, I only have room for one set in my dresser at a time, so twice a year we pull the blue buckets down, pack away the summer clothes or winter clothes, and pull out the other set. Crazy stuff!)

Practically Functional Home Tour: Living in and loving a small apartment!

The other end of the closet bar and shelf are attached to the side of this giant closet thing we found at IKEA. Please ignore the horribly messy shelves above the baskets! We’re still working on getting this room completely reorganized, and right now those shelves and the boxes on top of the wardrobe are just full of “stuff”!

And that’s it! That’s all 650 square feet of our tiny apartment home; it’s small, but we love it! I hope you guys enjoyed getting a little peek into our apartment.

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Shana says

    8 years ago

    I love your apartment home! You have such organizational skills! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  2. Elizabeth @ Southern Color says

    8 years ago

    Thanks for the tour! You’ve made great use of the space. I especially love your craft room in the dining area. I am with you, my dining room table functions more as a craft table than as a place to eat. Looking forward to meeting you at Haven!!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      8 years ago

      It just seemed silly after two years of using that table solely for crafting and never for eating… 🙂

  3. Christine says

    8 years ago

    So sweet! Thanks for sharing your home….you are reallllly using your space well! You’ve packed in a lot of storage in a tiny space.

    XO,
    Christine

  4. Consie @ Atop Serenity Hill says

    8 years ago

    Great to see someone else’s tiny space! We have just under 900 sq ft that I am trying to get under control. It is a daily battle! You have done a great job!

  5. [email protected] This Top That says

    8 years ago

    I love chicago!! I remember my husband and I living on our boat for 10 months. I miss those days…quaint and cozy and less to clean. Thanks for having us over.

  6. Bambi Mayer says

    8 years ago

    Very clever use of small spaces! I know how challenging it is (I share your shoe addiction). I especially love the little bottle holder above the door next to your craft desk (liquor cabinet???). Thanks for the tour.

  7. Debra @ msmoozysopenhouse.com says

    8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, I love how you make the most out of apt living. Very smart. Have a blessed day! 🙂

  8. keri @ shaken together says

    8 years ago

    I love the little peek into where you live, blog and create! Thanks for the tour, Jessi!

  9. Zografia says

    8 years ago

    I am a big fan of small spaces. Clever storage is the key! Plus one can clean and tidy these cute homes in no time!!!!!!

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