Remember Offbeat Homie Kat’s the shark bathroom? Now it’s time to check out the rest of the apartment.
The offbeat occupant: Kat — Full-time at FedEx, part-time artist and Do-er of Things.
Approximate square footage: Under 650 sq. feet
How many bedrooms? ZERO! It’s a studio
Lives in: Bellevue, WA, USA
When did you move into this home? Almost two years now.
Let’s start with the neighborhood. What’s it like where you live? Bellevue is near Microsoft and other big name company headquarters, so it’s full of very rich, very intelligent people. It’s a quiet and clean neighborhood, and also very expensive to live in. I was extremely lucky to find a little affordable place. Also, I have one of the biggest and best libraries I’ve ever been to within walking distance of my apartment building. There’s also the Bellevue Art Museum nearby, and some pretty good shopping down on the main street.
What makes your home offbeat? I have so many passions, that they sort of all bleed into one another. I go for bright and cheerful things, and I also go for darker humor. I’ve been described as both “geeky” and “punk,” and I suppose if you’re into labels, either or both of those will do. I can’t live without making and surrounding myself with art, so you can put me down for “arty” too if you’re so inclined.
What’s the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? There are two big challenges here: storage room and tidiness. It’s not a very big apartment — I think it clocks in at about 425 sq. ft., and it only comes with just the closet and some poorly arranged kitchen cabinets to contain all my stuff. So most of my furniture is for the storing of things.
There are four total bookcases (three in the main area and one in the hall entry) which hold books, DVDs and art supplies. More DVDs are in the little furry dresser the TV sits on. The nightstand has drawers and shelves, and my dresser is half full of clothes and half full of art supplies. There’s more art supplies under the bed.
And since it’s so small, it has to be kept clean or you’re tripping over everything. I can see the entire apartment from the bed, and there’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and being able to see the kitchen piled with dirty dishes before you’ve even gotten up. Things tend to get messy when I’m making art, so I have to balance artistic endeavors with housecleaning just to keep the place livable.
What’s your favorite feature of your home? I really like the way my apartment is situated. When I moved in, I had the option of this apartment or another one on the other side of the building, that faced the street. It had a nicer view, but was subjected to road noise. There’s a nearby highway, and a police station, so road noise is loud, constant, and often full of police sirens. I chose this apartment because it faces the back side of another building instead of the street. There’s absolutely no view to speak of, unless you’re attracted to blank concrete walls, but I can’t hear the traffic at all. And since there’s nothing pretty to look at out the window, I just make my own pretty view in my living room.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this home? I moved from a much bigger apartment that had clearly designated rooms: living room, bedroom, kitchen and so on — to a place where all the “rooms” were really just one room. I didn’t want people who came and visited to feel like I was serving them dinner in my bedroom, so it was something of a challenge of figuring out how to arrange things so that there were particular zones.
The kitchen is pretty obvious in its designation, and another bookcase and the table sort of block it in as its own room. One side of the room has the computer desk, TV and my DVD collection, so that gets to be the living room. All the zones sort of blend into one another, but are all (at least to me) pretty clearly distinguished as their own spaces.
What’s your grandest plan for the space? There is always art going on. Plans for new quilts, or new sculptures, to rotate out some of the old stuff. It’s always evolving around here. There’s not a lot I can change about the structure of the apartment itself — I can’t even paint the walls — but I can create a revolving gallery of new and interesting art to look at.
Also, I’m still decorating the bathroom. I’ve always wanted a mermaid-themed bathroom, though this one seems to be collecting sharks as well.
What advice do you have for other offbeat homies? Stay away from Home Décor Art. You know the stuff that’s mass-produced, usually in China, bland and completely inoffensive… The stuff you would see in hotel rooms. Art shouldn’t be something you put up on the wall just to fill the empty space. It shouldn’t be something you can just ignore. Real art should be something you look at every day and think, “I sure do love that.” The functional pieces you fill your space with — tables, lamps, etc. — should give you that feeling too.
There’s a quote I read that said to only fill your space with things you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Personally, I think they should be both. Useful can be beautiful too.
Any stuff or services you want to recommend? Around here there’s mostly big business, but every year the Bellevue Art Museum has an Art Fair which takes over all of downtown. It’s nothing but independent artists, selling everything from paintings and photographs to dolls, toys and jewelry. It’s definitely worth visiting.
Also, down in Oregon, the Portland Exposition Center has an Antiques and Collectables Expo a few times a year, and I always try to travel down there at least once a year. It’s massive, and you can find things there that you won’t see anywhere else.
I have a whole list of books that are great inspiration for offbeat décor, too. Top of the list would be “Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living” by Matt Maranian, and “Decorating with Funky Shui: How to Lighten Up, Loosen Up, and Have Fun Decorating Your Home” by Jennifer O’Neil and Kitty O’Neil.
Show me the decor porn!