Monday, April 5, 2010

RLTAA - Ana's (Spiral) Stairway to Heaven

Today's Real-Life Tiny-Ass Apartment finds us in Boston, home of baked beans, black-and-white terriers, and parking automobiles in lots adjacent to an Ivy League school. Okay, there's a lot more goin' on in ol' Boston-town. For starters, we've got Ana and Rick's awesome apartment, complete with a gorgeous spiral staircase.

Ana and Rick have lived in their 500ish square foot apartment for about seven months now. Prior to that they were living in a much bigger place, and they had some tough choices to make as to what to keep and what to purge. (T-shirts = purge; books = stay.) Ana says that they also learned from previous mistakes in their old place. When they first arrived there, they tried to finish all of their decorating at once. "We were totally burned out and making bad decisions by the end, some of which we had to undo. That costs money, time and sanity!" she says. "In our new apartment, we waited until we were settled in and had a feel for the place before we started to make huge changes. We realized some of the initial ideas we had for the apartment weren't going to work, and some were unnecessary."

Ana thought that their biggest problem would be their kitchen, as storage is extremely limited. But through installing shelves and racks on the walls (like the wine glass holder and mug hooks above the sink, the spice rack on the left of the stove, the tea rack to the right of the microwave, and the open shelves on the opposite wall), she managed to find a home for everything. Their landlord is also easygoing when it comes to a bit of paint and renovating; Ana and Rick cleaned up the space by repainting the cabinets, installing new hardware, and making a curtain to hide the shelves under the microwave.

They've also got one of those awesome drop-leaf storage tables from IKEA, which, as you can see, really leaves the space open when it's all folded down. The kitchen chairs are also foldable, and are stored in the small space behind the stairs in the living room.

You can see the light wood folding chairs peeking out behind the staircase to the right of the bookcase. What's that? You were distracted by that amazing spiral stairway? Yeah, I don't blame you. The wrought iron and wood wonder leads up to their loft bedroom, which is Ana's favorite part of the house. But before we get to that, we've got to give them kudos for their work on their living room.

Their couch from IKEA used to be a sectional. Rick and Ana split it up and recovered it; the other piece is upstairs. They even took some of the red slipcover from the downstairs section and used it to create a doggy bed for their whippet/beagle mix, Sunshine (who's taking a nap on the couch in the picture above).

They also created a storage windowseat from a repurposed IKEA wall cabinet, and brought in more trusty Swedish furniture to store all their books (on the left) and DVDs (on either side of the TV).

The bathroom is back through the kitchen. It's bright, clean, and fresh, and one of the best examples I've seen of a houseguest-ready bathroom.

After all, when you have people over, you don't want them rummaging through all your stuff trying to find what they need. In Ana and Rick's bathroom, not only is every necessity at your fingertips, but it's so nicely arranged you forget that these things are the necessities, not the decorations. Just look at those cute jars on the countertop! And even the toilet paper looks nice! I also like how they compensated for the lack of an over-sink mirror by using the cute round one hanging by black ribbon.

And now, back up the stairs! I love the detail of the manufacturer's mark at the top of the center rail. And, since they're good puppy-parents, they put pieces of carpeting on the wooden steps so that Sunshine can join them for snuggles in the bedroom.

The bedroom space used to be an attic, hence the steeply sloped ceiling. The previous tenant had placed their bed where Ana's dresser is now, but that essentially cut the room in half. Ana and Rick maximized their space by pushing their bed into the alcove on the right. Sure, the tight fit limited them to only one nightstand, but Ana simply installed a shelf on her side to hold her books and other bedside items.

Because of this configuration, they was plenty of space left in the center of the room for a small seating area, consisting of two IKEA storage ottomans, the shelf unit with cubes for even more storage, and the second part of their sofa sectional. Sunshine's second doggy bed is hidden under the LACK table to the left of the sofa, but as you can see she prefers the big bed!

Sooo freakin' cute. (Ana says that THIS is the reason they rarely make the bed!)

To the side of the seating area the couple has carved out a little workspace as well. The desk is the clever LUDVIG table from IKEA; the top slides away to reveal a drawer for things like cords and chargers. When they're not working at the desk on their laptops, the chair (and cute toast pillow) remains by the window for a little reading area by the top of the stairs. Back behind the stairs is a nook where they keep things like their craft supplies, a file cabinet, and shoes.

Even though their home started out with little available storage, Rick and Ana have created a home that holds all of their belongings while still feeling clean and modern. Their use of that TAA-dweller's savior, IKEA, mixed with Ana's craftsy whimsy makes the place comfortable and inviting.

Thanks, guys, for letting us take a look around! (And when going up the stairs: a look around and around and around...)


  1. ADORABLE!!! Boston apartments can be really tricky! they did a great job - liz c. (boston native)

  2. Thanks, Liz! Yeah, I was amazed when I first saw it -- especially with that staircase, of course!

  3. Just wanted to give an additional comment about the iron spiral stairs. They look great, and manufacturer's stamp makes it all the more better!

  4. Beautifully done, love it!


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