Welcome to the Practically Functional home! We live in a tiny 650 square foot 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 (and the fact that we don’t own a car!) doesn’t stop me! I decorate, I craft, I DIY, I build, I organize, I cook… I even garden! We love every single square foot of our little home, and I’m thrilled to show it to you today!
So let’s start in the kitchen!
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!
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!
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 our main closet. I took the sliding doors off for the photo above, but usually we just leave one door open because the cat’s litter box is in the closet. See the black rubber mat? It 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. And those blue storage bins are a lifesaver! They open from the front and the top!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
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!
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!
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.