We love sleeping in a closet: Elizabeth and Derek's home tour

November 2 | Guest post by Elizabeth and Derek

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Upon entering our neighborhood for the first time, my friend asked me, "Liz, did we just enter the fashionable youth district?" and I laughed for ages. Capitol Hill is young, and filled with bars and restaurants, and has a hipster contingent, but it's also a fun, progressive, and pretty central neighborhood, with many nice old buildings and tons of local businesses.

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Check out the floorplan to make sense of the bed-closet and office-room.
Our flavor of offbeat is thrifty, crafty, and playful. Everything here is second (possibly third) hand. If it isn't from a thrift store, it's from the side of the road. If it isn't from the side of the road, we made it. I'd like to toot my own horn for a moment and say that I am the primary crafter. Derek is amazing in his willingness to be supportive with whatever I make, to be a sounding board for ideas, and for how he trustingly holds two pieces of wood together while I use a power tool very near his hands. And he usually checks in on my projects to tell me dinner is ready.

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I feel like I see a lot of "and then I got my boyfriend/husband/dad to handle this construction project" in the interior design world, so I wanted to be very clear that I do the construction work, and ladies, you can too!

The infinite list of crafts includes making our bed frame (and making it in the closet no less, because there's no way to get something that size in the closet once it's been made), reupholstering the dining nook and office chairs (and making new tops for the office ones), the weird creepy lamp on top of the bookcase, sewing curtains and pillow cases, the bike wheel chandelier, hacking a vanity into my desk with a piece of glass and some books for structural support when Rosie sits on the desk, painting the mural, and painting a great many other things.

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Rather have an office than a bedroom? Bedcloset for adults.

Our space is great. There aren't really many challenges with the structure of it. We're down to one closet, but we did that to ourselves, and are making do. Our biggest challenge actually comes from having no car and starting with no friends when we first moved to town. We have carried a lot of this furniture home ourselves, including some of the big pieces. It's easy to keep to the mantra "Only buy what you love" when you might be carrying that big pink couch home.

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I really like the formal, classic touches of our 1929 building. Our iceboxes, hardwood floors, plaster walls, and milk delivery door are a fun backdrop for our playful style. Nothing's too strict, and anything that makes us laugh stays. Especially the tiny cat couch.

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Nothing makes me laugh as hard as the tiny cat couch.

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Lessons I've learned:

  1. You can use rooms for different things than their intended purpose!
  2. You can find anything at a thrift shop if you are patient, diligent, and measure before you leave the house.
  3. You can make anything with a sewing machine, a drill, and a power saw.

In the future, we'd like to get a big driftwood cat tree to put by the living room window, and probably some curtains for that window as well. Derek's become really into the idea of getting black out curtains and turning our living room into a camera obscura. We also want to build a Theremin to round out our weird musical instrument collection (the musical saw, the harmonium, some strangely strung guitars, and some more standard things like a keyboard and recorder).

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And eventually I'm going to have to learn how to reupholster the bigger things in our house.

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When it comes to your home, my advice is this:

If an idea makes you laugh, it's a good idea. Don't be a stick in the mud about whether it's tasteful. Don't get discouraged on what you think you're capable of; you can build basically anything and the internet is full of tutorials. Don't pay a lot of money for something; you'll see it in a thrift store the next day. Paint your walls.

And don't bring lilies into your home if you have cats.

The stuff we have to recommend:

First and foremost, we have to recommend Animal Talk Rescue in Seattle for providing the two biggest sources of joy in our home. Animal Talk is an excellent no-kill rescue in the Roosevelt district that doesn't shy away from older cats and hard cases (like our cats were). In particular, they did a great job of turning Gilda from an infectious ball of goo into a cat, and they went to a great deal of trouble to make sure she kept both eyes.

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We'd also like to recommend Metrix, our local create space, an amazing resource for anyone looking to do some more tool, 3D printer, or laser cutter-related crafts for their home, and Twice Sold Tales (a used book store is a valid home decorating source in a home with as many books as ours).

Enough advice. Show me the decor porn!

  1. Thanks for saying that you can do it yourself. I took scene shop and learned to build furniture in college. Groom studied fine arts and played with Legos. I am the one with more power tools, he's the one who knows the different sewing stitches. I'm just sayin' ladies who rock their own power tool handiness are uber-hot.

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    • I'm glad there are other DIYers out there who defy gender roles! That's too cute that your husband sews. I'm not trying to make any ladies feel bad if they don't do it themselves, I'm just trying to increase the visibility of us power tool wielding women, and encourage more people to join our ranks!

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      • my dad was a carpenter and my mom is still an engineer, and it wasn't until i was 14 that i found out most kids didn't know how to use power tools, and of the few that did very few of them were girls. i don't get it, it's not like it's hard.

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  2. I LOVE the fabric you used on that office chair! Wherever did you find it??

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    • If you want more home tours, tell your friends to submit! We go months sometimes without getting a single home tour submission. :(

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      • Would you be interested in a home that is a work in progress? I'm about halfway towards having my apartment how I'd like it, but I'd photograph it for offbeathome if it would be acceptable!

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        • I'd be interested!! I love seeing works in progress. I think it has to do with me being able to envision the final product I want and knowing what the room looks like now, but not being able to see what the process would be like. Maybe a new category, like Offbeat Homes In Progress?

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        • That's the only reason I didn't submit my home yet! It's a construction mess!

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  3. I love your place. LOVE. I love second, third, fourth hand furniture. I dream about having a second hand sofa so we can ditch the crappy Target one we have. Oh, and tiny cat sofa is AWESOME! That is the coolest thing ever! You've re-inspired me! Rock on!

    P.S. Power tools are a girl's best friend. I think welding and drilling were my two favorite things in sculpture class.

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    • Oh man, I would kill to have some welding projects and a space to do them in.

      Thank you!

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  4. I love everything about this house, particularly the tiny cat couch (HAH!) and the Star Trek TOS art i spy framed in the kitchen!
    I'm pretty sure this is mmy dream house right here!

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    • Thank you for saying such nice things. On the Star Trek art: you don't even know. It is amazing. There's an epic humpback whale jumping in the center, between Kirk and Spock, and Khan with his weird plastic chest is at the bottom.

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      • You take that back! Ricardo Montalban's pecs were painstakingly sculpted from copious old dude pushups, then covered with fine Corinthian leather.

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        • This is probably the number one fight that Derek and I have. This comment is going to make him laugh so hard, and then feel vindicated in a view that can't possibly be true because those pecs are too weird to be real!

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  5. I <3 Metrix, especially the vending machine, which carries fun projects like the bliplace! Also, I love your lamp! I first saw that in a Make magazine awhile ago and have wanted to make one. If you're in Seattle and looking for some unique fabric for upholstering, check out Archie McPhee's in Wallingford. Also great for oddities you wouldn't find anywhere else (or at least not all in one place).

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    • Metrix is so great! The lamp was really easy, and I hadn't done anything with circuits since Jr. High.

      Thanks for the tip! I didn't remember that Archie McPhee's had fabric. I normally think of them for little toys, which honestly we already have so many of, but I love their kooky aesthetic, and would love to incorporate it into my home.

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  6. Stealing that twinkle light lamp nao. Thank you.

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  7. thank you for sharing this, it's wonderful – i particularly love to see the work of people who have made a small space cosy and livable and unique.

    to read that you have thrifted and built so much of it is a real inspiration to this gal (i rely too much on IKEA). and i share the cat couch love of the other commenters!

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    • If I had a car, I might be an IKEA fiend. I love going to their store and looking around. But as they're a couple towns over, I'm encouraged to look around at thrift shops. Usually they're much cheaper than IKEA and I do feel good that I'm taking something that might have just gone to a landfill. But convenience is definitely the driving force.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this! My boyfriend and I are moving up to Cap Hill in a week and our apartment is only 330ft sq. (The listing said 420ft sq, but I pulled out my measuring tape after we got the keys for the place. They were wrong.) I'm kinda terrified to think about how we'll make things work in such a small place, so it's really nice to see how people make their own small spaces work. (OBH peoples- do you have some sort of category for Small Spaces? That could be really helpful!)

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    • Oh, that annoys me more than anything, when they lie to you about the square footage. That's happened to me consistently since I moved to Seattle. I don't know if it's a cultural thing up here, but I think it's very kind of you to say it's an accident. You'll make it work though. Our first place was around that size (though they said 500 on the phone) and it was a tight fit, but worked out.

      For small spaces, I think Apartment Therapy's small cool contest is one of your best bets. Though many times their styling is a little too stark and modern for me, so I too would like to encourage OBH to feature some small space resources.

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        • Yes!! Thank you for fixing my ignorance of that tag!

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      • And not just Seattle! In Des Moines, our first apartment was listed as 550 square feet. Before we moved, I measured it very meticulously — it was really about 400 square feet.

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        • Gosh that sucks! I mean, I can decide if something's too small by looking at it, regardless of what's said to me, but I don't like being lied to, especially when it's a lie that gets me to waste time looking at a spot I wouldn't have considered.

          Here's a tip for if you forget your tape measure: Fingertip to finger tip with your arms spread will always be within a few inches of your height. If you're bad at estimating but you feel like the numbers are wrong, you can easily check "Well, the living room is two Lizzes by two Lizzes, so 121 sq ft, and the kitchen is one Liz by two Lizzes…" I've never been bold enough to point out that a place is 150 sq ft smaller than advertised, but I always wonder what would happen if I were. Would the price get dropped significantly? Would it just become really awkward and I'd have to leave?

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  9. LOVE your house. I think this is my favorite home of all the home tours, or darn close. I love the idea of a bed in a closet– the most minimal bedroom. How/where do you store your clothes?
    Also, I have a major crush on your sink.

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    • I was wondering the same thing! Where are clothes?

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      • The clothes actually didn't move with the bed, they're still in the dresser in the office, and in the closet in the office. So we have to stumble all sleepy into the office to get dressed, but it's still worth it.

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    • Resolution: figure out a way to work "AMAZEPANTS" into my vocabulary this weekend. :)

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  10. The phrase "driftwood cat tree" just rocked my world. I searched for pictures online but the ones I found aren't as fabulous as the one I envision in my head. I love that my crafting plans now require a trip to the beach.

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  11. The tiny cat couch just made my night!! It makes me want to adopt a cat and buy it a tiny couch!

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  12. I'm so jealous of your couch. Like…major jealous. I live in Albuquerque and everything here is Southwestern style. *barf*

    If anyone knows a good spot to find kooky, nice, CHEAP, quality furniture in Albuquerque, let me know. I feel like the antique dealers here have a racket going on, I can't afford 800 bucks for a beat up old couch!

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  13. Very cool ideas!
    I would love a bed closet!!

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  14. Heeey, I have that same phrenology head! Also, I really.. really.. REALLY want a closet bed now. That looks so comfortable .. I would feel like I was in a secret fort all the time.

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  15. When I saw you had named your cats Rosencrantz and Guildernstern your coolness was confirmed. However, I MUST ask; WHY did you choose to have your bed in the closet and how big is it?

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  16. For anyone who is curious, that cat couch (if I am not mistaken) is actually an American Girl Doll couch! I had one as a little girl, and if that isn't the same couch, I'm a monkey's uncle.

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  17. omg, the lilies. i wish i'd seen this when it was first posted. my tax return went to the vet, thanks to lilies in my birthday bouquet last spring. thankfully my cat is ok (and did great the whole time…the 48 hours of kidney support were almost more of a precaution than anything else), but still. ugh. lol. stupid salad-nommer.

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