Stephanie and Sean’s recycled, reused, refurbished apartment in the deep south

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The offbeat occupant: Stephanie, photographer/owner of White Rabbit Studios, Managing Editor at Offbeat Mama!

Other occupants: Husband Sean, son Jasper and dog Kali

Lives in: Alabama

What makes your home offbeat? Truly, the building itself does nothing for us. We moved into this particular complex because it’s near the university that Sean attends, and we both wanted to be able to bike to most of the places we go. However, since we’ve lived here for a while, we’ve done a few things to make it more “us” (painting the walls BLUE! and yellow was a huge plus for me).

One of the more unique aspects of our home is that SO much of our furniture, belongings, and even clothing is recycled/refurbished or vintage. This is a HUGE thing to us, a mega-important philosophy.

SOME Examples:

  • When we first moved in, Sean found this beaten up dresser by the dumpster. He inspected it (no bugs! no major damage!) and brought it home. He stripped, sanded, cleaned, and painted it (we refer to the color as “Dumbledore purple”), changed out a few of the handles, and now it’s in our living room.
  • He found both of our computer chairs outside of people’s homes (at different times).
  • His work desk was in a pile of stuff being thrown away at a school.

  • A lot of our decorations are old posters — we found a SWEET Albert Einstein on a bike poster that hangs over our piano. I also rustled up a set of liner notes from the White Album to go over our couch.
  • Our couch is a futon we found at a thrift store for $75 (SCORE)
  • The rocking chair we have (my absolute favorite thing in the house, I think) was at a vintage shop in Portland. Sean carried it 10 blocks since we didn’t have a car! It now has super cute teeth marks from Jasper’s manic teething spurts.

What are the biggest home decor/occupational challenges you’ve faced, and how did you solve them? Some of our biggest challenges have more to do with the maintenance of the apartment in general — we can’t even go on our deck right now because one of the columns disintegrated in the recent snowstorm we had.

Another problem we’ve run into is that Sean’s style is VERY minimalist, and my style is VERY flea market chic, to be nice about it. We both prefer living in an apartment because we don’t want to have permanent ties to this city, so for now he’s ok with me sort of putting things up all over the place. I think once we move from here we’ll probably run into a few more challenges, but… we’ll see what happens then. 😉

What’s your favorite feature of your home? My favorite piece of furniture is the rocking chair I mentioned — we’ve had it since Jasper came home from the hospital, and it’s priceless to me. I always wanted a rocking chair instead of a glider, and Sean surprised me by carrying it 10 blocks (in the rain!) to bring it home. It’s a place of peace and comfort — Jasper nursed there, and we still rock him to sleep in it. I’m incredibly emotionally attached!

I also really like my work desk. It’s a HUGE wreck most of the time and probably the bane of Sean’s existence, but I feel like it’s so ME, just all over the place.

I love our books and book shelves. There aren’t enough book shelves and we’re always running out of space, but I love how objects appear to be haphazardly arranged on the shelf, when in fact the arrangement makes a whole lot of sense (subject-wise and spatially).

ALSO: part of our apartment is slowly turning into a children’s museum of sorts — Sean and I hand-painted a solar system mobile that hangs in the living room, and as I wrote on Offbeat Mama, we have educational posters all around the room and down the hallway at Jasper’s eye level.


We’re very music obsessed. I love our record player (a gift from Sean’s mom), and I love that we actually LISTEN to the records we own — they aren’t just decoration.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this home? That you really can like where you live — even if it’s small, and even if it’s in a city you’re not especially fond of. Also, you can totally reconcile kid space with adult space, and the two can live harmoniously together.

What’s your grandest plan for the space? I’d love to be able to separate the living room somehow. It’s a GIGANTIC room, easily the biggest in the apartment, and it’s awkward. One side is cozy and warm, and the other side is… not so much.

What’s your best advice for other offbeat dwellers? You can totally rock apartments! So many people I know think a family = house ownership. I’m not sure who decided that choosing a house is the next required step after having a kid, but we didn’t buy it.

Any stuff or services you want to recommend?

Enough talk! Let’s see that Offbeat Home porn!

Comments on Stephanie and Sean’s recycled, reused, refurbished apartment in the deep south

  1. Stephanie, I love your place! That purple dresser rocks, and I love the rocker, and your bookshelves (especially the huge Industrial Sociology popping out), and all the little touches. And I stole your poster idea. 🙂

  2. I’m jealous of the 9 shelf unit you got (from Target I’m going to assume because that’s the one we wanted–in that color–but they didn’t have it). And thank you for all the shots of the books! I adore seeing people’s bookshelves to see what books they choose to display. I’m such a booknerd that way. 🙂

  3. I just got the same exact rocker off Freecycle a week ago, though mine has darker stained wood & the seat is greenish yellow. It is one of my favorite things ever & SO comfy! What a find!

  4. Quick question. I got a dog about 8 months ago from the pound, and they were never sure what breeds she was mixed with being a mut. She’s almost a year old they say… AND YOUR DOG LOOKS IDENTICAL TO HER xD

    So what I’m trying to say is, what breed is your dog lol

  5. I have to admit I squeed when I saw The Israel Lobby in your book collection. 🙂 That said, it sounds like you live in a pretty lenient building since you were able to paint the walls. Sadly, I’ve never been in a complex where I could do that.

  6. Stephanie — I totally have the rocking chair my mom nursed me (and my sister) in. It feels special every time I sit there (which is admittedly not that often). It also has chew marks on the rockers from my parents pre-baby dog. I love it so much. Keep that thing! Jasper will want it!
    – Becca

  7. I love the seemingly random bookshelf arrangement, especially that Industrial Sociology is located adjacent to the Star Wars Pop-up Guide!

  8. I love the books and ornaments everywhere, especially the books. We’re both big book people and we’re forever getting hints and comments about hiding them away so the place looks ‘neat’, or getting a Kindle and getting rid of them completely! (3 years running mum has tried to persuade me to have a Kindle for my birthday. Not that I have anything against them but I’d never use it and I want to keep my books!)

    I’m slowly coming around to the idea that books everywhere can be cool, even if they’re not neat or fancy or the kind of books you’re supposed to show off (Star Wars pop-up FTW!) so it’s great to see other people who aren’t hiding them away.

    • Don’t listen to them, they obviously don’t know what they’re saying ^^ Books everywhere can be so cool and decorative. My parents have a whole wall of their living room dedicated to books, and they have this gorgeous light and airy Scandinavian style going on. It looks really great, even with all those books!
      And my favourite part of my apartment is the (very overfilled) bookshelf, and all the stacked books that won’t fit in it just lying around. It makes the whole apartment feel warm and cosy, somehow.
      Gee, long comment! Anyways, what I’m trying to say is: books are pretty. Let them show!

  9. I’m starting to realise that my own home is quite a bit offbeat also … and I love this. I’ve slowly started to realise over the last few years that secondhand/begged stuff is awesome. My mum is very much a “new is best” kind of lady, unless it’s an antique, so it’s taken a while and is quite a revelation. Love stalking everyone’s houses 😀

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