Alexa, Sean, Max the cat, and an unborn child of an unknown gender live in a one-bedroom in Lawrence, Kansas. Just judging from the pics I’d say they’re a classy representation of Lawrence, which is one of the Midwest’s secret art cities.
Our home reflects us because it is full of the things we love. And, it turns out, we love a lot. Sometimes I wish I was more of a minimalist so that introducing this child into our home wouldn’t be such a challenge, but every tchotchke on every shelf has a story for us — downsizing further is simply not an option. We are both, shall we say, very in touch with our inner children, so toys, a tricycle, and other silly objects reside right along with our wedding photos, art, and souvenirs from our travels abroad. We’re maybe a hippy-punk artsy-nerdy hybrid breed of offbeat? All I can say is that when I peruse Offbeat Home, Offbeat Mama, or Etsy, I feel right at home the same way I DON’T when I somehow end up at Walmart or the mall.
We love bright colors (hippy) and skulls (punk) equally, and we don’t have a lot of money, so most of our furniture was procured through friends, relatives, or the annual large-item trash pickup day.
For us, the most challenging aspect of our apartment — other than the obvious size issue — is the lack of an outdoor space. We are both nature-loving camping-type people who would love to have a yard for a garden, for grilling, for summer entertaining. Sadly, beyond a tiny, enclosed back porch fit for little other than storing recycling bins, this apartment, just like most others, has little outdoor space.
To deal with our limited natural space, we participate in a CSA for fresh veggies, frequent the farmer’s market and nearby park, throw our huge windows open wide whenever weather permits, and do most of our entertaining in the colder months when people don’t mind being stuck inside.
Being a rental, there is little that we can do with the space. In the past five years we have already done most of what has occurred to us to do. That being said, we have to accommodate a whole other person any day now, so our grandest plan is to learn how to fit a baby into our home and our lives.
That’s pretty grand, huh?
According to our landlord — possibly one of the coolest landlords in Lawrence — our building sprang up around 1890. We live on the second floor of a two-story, a massage and wellness collective occupies the first floor. The antique features of the apartment itself have made it easy to create a beautiful, warm living space.
We love the dark woodwork and original built-ins found throughout the place, as well as the circa 1940s kitchen fixtures.
I can honestly say that this apartment is naturally “homey.” Cheesy as it sounds, the place just has a warm cozy feeling about it — which was simple to accentuate with furniture and art.
Lawrence is by no means a big city, so the term “downtown” is relative (referring to about eight city blocks), but that’s where we live. We are close to the student neighborhoods as well, which is a mixed blessing. Our apartment is two blocks from tons of great restaurants, bars, and shops, one block from a huge city park, and just down the hill from campus museums. The public library, a grocery store, and the farmer’s market are also quite close. We can even walk to a movie theater!
There is an old country song that includes the refrain “Love grows best in little houses;” these words perfectly express the way I feel about this apartment. During the five years that we’ve lived here, I feel that Sean and I have gotten to know each other as intimately as two people can.
Sharing a small space means that you can’t avoid each other for long, so messes must be cleaned up, arguments must be resolved, farts must be smelled. Even if we were to suddenly strike it rich (and unicorns would take over Congress and forgive our student loans and give us all universal healthcare and rainbows every day), I don’t think I would move our family into a McMansion. Because how would we keep track of ourselves and each other in all that space? …Though one or two more rooms might be nice.
- Color is your friend.
- Some of the coolest stuff can be found at garage sales, flea markets, your grandma’s basement. Decor is so much more interesting when you have a story to go along with the object in question, and “I bought it at Target” makes for a pretty short conversation.
- And skulls. Subtle reminders of the inevitability of death make this short life feel more vibrant by comparison. I just made that up, but it sounded good.
One of our favorite decor haunts is The Antique Mall on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence. We also love Etsy (but you already knew that), Saffron Marigold has cool printed textiles, and large-item trash pickup days in any college town (seriously, these kids throw out EVERYTHING! Perfectly good laptops! Just check the rugs for urine smell BEFORE bringing them into your home).
Don’t forget to check out the tchotchkes!