Around this home… there is no subway tile.

Spring 2016-59I cannot emphasize how much we love our new home. I mean, we loved our old place. It was the first place we lived, a place that was cozy and had us smack in the center of a perfect area of the city. But it wasn’t without its…. charms. Our new apartment is a decided step up, and sometimes we just sit around feeling like real adults and listening to the dishwasher purr in the background. We congratulate ourselves on upgrading, and stand firm in our belief that having a kind of crummy first apartment as newlyweds is a blessing, because anything feels like a huge step up.


I thought about putting some pictures up here, and I kept on stopping. First because it seemed weird and strangely pretentious, as I am not at all a home decor maven. Every decision takes me eons of stress, until I finally default into the primary colors and Ikea classics. But secondly, it always seems like people who do share pictures of where they live all live in the same house. Everything is white and shiny, done in tasteful unique pieces carefully curated from vintage stores and the occasional West Elm purchase. Things are sparse, colors are muted, and lush house plants gleam in every corner. They don’t seem to own trashcans or books, or if they do, only aesthetic ones, and I have no clue how their couch cushions stay so plump. They have white subway tile covering the bathroom and kitchen backsplash, carefully selected to match the already white everything else. They have fresh flowers. Their homes are beautiful, and usually owned, and tailored to an exquisite taste that I love.

But we rent, and will rent for awhile, and that means limited options and few renovations possible. And around this home, there is no subway tile. Which I am actually fine with, as our old place had a version of it, and do you know how hard it is to keep calk mold-free in a bathroom? It is impossible, and subway tile is basically a snazzy mold factory – albeit the prettiest one ever. Around this home, there are no plants, because I kill them all. Around this home, we have to store things on top of cabinets, even if it looks bad, because that is all the space we have. Around this home, there is a delicate balance of the practicality we need, the aesthetics we want, and the constraints that we have to deal with. What small apartment budget living teaches you is how to mold your own style into whatever space you have, pushing it into little corners and adapting it to awkward nooks.

And I decided I wanted to share that. I love our place, I’m proud of it and the things we love that fill it. So! Here it is, in all its I-waited-to-take-pics-until-it-was-cleaner-than-usual-but-left-off-the-bedrooms-because-of-a-laundry-bomb glory.Spring 2016-61Ah, the mantle moose. Maybe my favorite belonging. It started as a joke Christmas decoration that we put there before unpacking anything else, but I’ve grown attached. He just looks so regal in between our home-state maps.

One of our biggest decor/home dilemmas is what to do with all the books, because we have (too?) many, and not the pretty coordinating kind, but the all over the place liberal arts grads kind. We managed to purge an entire shelf worth while moving, but then opted to just fill shelves fuller, ditching lots of framed pics that we had in our old place, but clinging to my obsessive W collection. You also might notice the TV wedged in the bookshelf. TVs are tricky things. I hate how they look and refuse to have them be a focus of the room. But I also marvel at how so many beautiful homes that people splash across the internet don’t have TVs visible. Do they hide them? Do they not actually like to watch Office marathons on their couch, feet on the coffee table??? I mean, I love things looking good, but I also love all my people sitting on the floor, eating bagel bites, and watching The Bachelor. In the absence of a room that could be a TV/den, we just have to make due.apartmentSpring 2016-64Spring 2016-65I almost cried when we managed to find an apartment where I could have an office– and by that I mean a tiny 5×5 alcove off the living room. I wish it had a nice streamlined desk and comfy chair, but for now we are making do with the old desk from my grandma’s garage and a metal folding chair (that is coincidentally also from her garage). But it’s mine, it has all my dissertation stuff, and it is perfect. It also lets me go crazy with my collage wall, since James gently suggested that we keep our walls slightly less cluttered here than in our last place. Spring 2016-66Spring 2016-68BEHOLD THE DISHWASHER. Definitely our favorite family member. And though I miss the gas stove of our old place, I do marvel at how much cleaner everything stays without that filmy stuff that gathers in gas stove homes. Mostly I just love that this kitchen is open to the living room, keeping me a part of things when I am cooking or cleaning and people are having fun in there. My middle-child FOMO is satisfied at last.Spring 2016-69Fun details that no one noticed in our old place because the kitchen was dark and cut off! Spring 2016-70Spring 2016-71Ok fine — one last closeup of the Mantle Moose of Might. Spring 2016-72Home. It used to be a tiny place in Eastern Market, and now it is a much bigger, though still small, place on the edge of Capitol Hill. Not perfect, but perfectly working for what we need and most of what we want. I couldn’t ask for more.

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12 Responses to Around this home… there is no subway tile.

  1. kmkersting says:

    Hannah! I love this. We are in the process of picking out paint colors for our new house and it is so tempting to whitewash everything, even though I don’t even like all white. Seriously you put the words right into my mouth and then typed them nice and succinctly into this post. I couldn’t agree more. As Myquillin Smith says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,” which I find ironic because her house… IS PERFECT. I love that you have this new space to call home, and your kitchen is definitely an upgrade from your last place..look at all that counter space ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s awesome, congratulations.

    • Hannah says:

      The white is so tempting! And I do like it, but I also like color and practicality! And YES- the kitchen upgrade is the most shocking… I can actually assemble a pie in the kitchen!

  2. This just looks cozy and snug and cheery, the kind of place you can curl up with a cup of tea and not worry about putting your stocking feet on the sofa. I do love your little office nook, I’m a sucker for gallery walls like that. I found a very similar desk once upon a time and it is the most sturdy, convenient thing. SO MANY DRAWERS! I mean, I get the aesthetics of an airy almost-looks-like-it’s-floating desk, but where do people put the post-it notes and their extra pens and all their cords and hob-knobs and doo-dads? I am not minimalist enough to be about to work properly without post-its and hob-knobs and doo-dads.

    Also? Filed under Things That Make Zero Sense: bookshelves that do not actually have books on them. Every time an Internet Decor Stylist creates a “styled” “sparse” “balanced” book shelf full of plants and decorative vases and, like, 10 books per wall, I think a book fairy dies. GIVE ME ALL THE BOOKS!


    • Hannah says:

      BUT WE MUST HAVE THE DRAWERS!!!! I totally agree. Where else do you put bill receipts and old tax documents??? Not to mention the random cords that show up, have no concrete use, but CANNOT be thrown away??? And yes. We MUST have ALL the books!

  3. E.H says:

    I absolutely love it! It’s gorgeous! And I spotted an envirocloth in the kitchen. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hannah says:

      Spotted! I was so skeptical, but my mother-in-law got my one for Christmas and I am HOOKED. I’m pretty sure it is woven from magical unicorn hairs, because it NEVER SMELLS.

  4. Your place is lovely, super cute, and thank you for showing that you actually live there ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Anne says:

    Hi Hannah ๐Ÿ™‚ I read your blog for a long time now and I love how you write and the topics of your articles! I can totally understand what you are feeling concerning your new home, I moved in with my husband about 7 months ago and we are still learning to create a space for the two of us. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s evolving every week and people that come to visit us always recognize that something in the messiness changed (hopefully for the good). I love cluttering the walls with pictures and sayings and to pack our shelf with loads of books. A girlfriend of mine yesterday said something like: It looks kind of chaotic but in an artistic creative way. Haha … By the way I wrote a blog post about tidiness vs. inspiration at home. Normally I write in German but I recently started to translate some of my posts in English so if you want you’re welcome to stop by ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have a nice Easter weekend, Anne

    • Hannah says:

      Sometimes chaos is cozy!!! I just like having all sorts of images I love to look up at throughout the day. I look forward to reading some of your posts, and *maybe* even putting my German to the test and trying to read through some of those!

  6. Shannon Coker says:

    Your home is beautiful! I love your sense of style ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Pingback: 2016 sounded like heartbeats and hymns. | The Art in Life

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