Slow Decorating

Slow Decorating

Hi friends! It’s Michaela! I’m excited to be back here sharing a bit of my home with you today. About a year ago I shared with TIR readers that I had moved across the country from California to Michigan. I made the move because my boyfriend lives here (he’s extra handsome, so it didn’t take much convincing!) As an interior designer myself, I was excited about finally having my own apartment to call home. I would be able to decorate it any way I wanted, instead of community decorating with my roommates in college. This apartment would reflect my style and personality and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When I moved to Michigan I barely had anything furniture-wise to my name. I had ordered a headboard and shipped a mirror to my new address, that I’d previously found in California at a vintage market. Other than that, I had a lot of art prints, small accessories and glassware I had collected over the years (I have a thing for beautiful breakable pieces. Sad thing is, most of them actually did break on the move over!) When I got the keys to my apartment I was excited! THEN, after about 5 minutes of being inside I felt extremely overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. My boyfriend brought over his old TV to keep me company, but since I didn’t have any furniture, it was casually resting on a cardboard moving box. You could find me watching it from a pouf or on the floor, until my couch came. My makeshift dining table was the smallest, most wobbly card table I’d ever seen. I threw a pretty table cloth over it to try to disguise it, but mostly I did that just to keep myself from crying.

You see, I loved the idea of moving and having my own place, but I also had this completely false expectation that everything would be set up and ready to go right away. What a dream that was! As a designer, you’d think I would have known better than to think everything would be done lickity-split. Well, it’s been a year and I’ve learned a lot about moving, being patient, giving myself grace, decorating and keeping my own home. Here is the evolution of my apartment and some (hopefully) helpful insights!

Here’s the apartment the day I moved in:

Slow Decorating

Slow Decorating

Can you see why I felt overwhelmed?!

After a few days of living there with my TV sitting on a box for a media console, I went out and got this media stand. One that was OK, but I didn’t love, because I was rushing into things.

I also started hanging my gallery wall to make myself feel more at home. No couch, but this girl’s got a gallery wall! Ha ;)

Slow Decorating

Just a few months ago I decided I made a mistake buying that media console, so I tried my best to give it a little love with some chalk paint. It’s totally changed the look to a more vintage, shabby chic style instead of a modern one. Much more my style! I find myself loving my apartment so much more now.

Slow Decorating

When I initially moved in, one of the best pieces of advice I received from someone else was to get the bathroom put together first. It’s the smallest room in the apartment, so it would be a manageable space to get finished right off the bat. This was a huge help for me! I’m one who likes things in their place, so having at least one room put together was great. Just a few months ago, my apartment changed ownership, so I was excited to learn we could paint! I recruited my boyfriend’s help and we knocked out my bathroom walls in a few hours. It has made SUCH a big difference!

We painted it Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore and it’s amazing how it has helped brighten up the tiny room and make me love it a little more. The white shower curtain now actually stands out, which I love. Another simple update I made was replacing the knobs on the vanity with pretty ones from Anthropologie¬†(aka my happy place!)

Slow Decorating

Back when I moved in I purchased a small love seat for my living room, because I made the mistake of going cheap and thinking that only a love seat would fit in my small apartment. Those sofas that are advertised as “apartment sized” are a silly thing! Sometimes they are the only thing that will fit in your home, but often times a regular sized couch will fit, and funny enough, will make the room feel bigger. My boyfriend is 6’3″, so the little love seat didn’t make watching a movie very fun. I mean, it was actually hilarious watching him try to get comfortable on that couch!

After a few months of living there, I decided to sell the love seat and invest in a small sectional from Pottery Barn. I decided on the Cameron and LOVE it!! It has a reversible chaise (so if I move and need the chaise on the other side, I can move it!) and it fits perfectly. It actually opens up the space a ton. Here’s a glimpse of the room back at Christmas time ;)

Slow Decorating

Adding new pillows, sewn by my interior designer grandma (her etsy shop is here!) was a fun added touch and something that really makes my house feel like home.

Slow Decorating

The biggest key to moving for me, was to remember it is a process. Giving yourself grace in those first few weeks (or months) and remember it will eventually come together is so crucial to your sanity and joy. I can honestly say, after a year of living in my apartment, that building a home I truly love has been so much more FUN when I started telling myself slow decorating is best. Can any of you identify with my story?

Stop by my blog anytime. I’d love to meet you!




  1. When I moved in with my then fiance we didn’t have a lot either but you somehow make things work and slowly buy furniture over time. Just buy things you love. We spent $$ on things we loved like our dining room set from Potterybarn and after 12 years I still love it. We now have 2 kids a dog and my Mom living with us so a lot changes. My floors are a bit stickier and my art consists of kids drawings but it’s all good.

  2. Adrienne says

    LOVE your makeover of the media console, I wouldn’t have realized it was the same piece of furniture if you hand’t said so!

  3. Adrienne says


  4. I laughed when I scrolled on your photos of move-in day. I’ve had that exact reaction a number of times in my life and overwhelming is the word. I think you’re doing a great job so far. Interestingly, when I bought this home two and a half years ago, I knew the first time I walked through the front door that this was my forever home. (At 72, ‘forever home” takes on a slight different meaning than it does for you at your age or even for your mom.) The thing is, even though I had very little furniture, basically what I needed from the previous home I shared with my late husband and a couple of my treasured pieces, I didn’t have a minute of that overwhelming feeling – but a vision came right away. (Of course, being able to have the movers put all boxes in the 2-car garage and laundry room under my direction and only bring furniture into the house and place it where I’d already decided helped a lot.) I think as you grow and develop as a designer and as you move into more “forever for now” homes along the way, there will be a lot less of that overwhelming feeling and much more of the quick vision. Have fun!

  5. Taking your time and living in a space is crucial to getting it right. You will learn what works in that space and only buy things that you really LOVE. That requires patience and usually time. I enjoy buying things at estate sales and second hand stores that I can refinish, paint or reupholster to create the exact item in my imagination. I also make a floor plan on graph paper, then cut out pieces that represent my furniture to see where the best placement should be before moving things around and hanging art on the walls. You did a great job in your apartment. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Some great advice! I’m currently living in a rented basement apartment and learned that exact same thing, slowly decorating and trying to love your home is way better than making quick and rash decisions just so I can call it “done”. I’m slowly finding pieces and making it more our own (me and my fianc√©) and slowly I’m loving it more.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Lauren Baxter | LB Designs

  7. I would be curious… HOW can you move the chaise to the opposite end of the couch?? Wouldn’t you end up with two arms at the same end? I have a similar sectional… with additional pieces, so it’s in an L shape, however has the movable chaise on one side. Though it is movable, there is no way moving it to the opposite end, would work… at least it would look very odd. Can you explain? Thanks… Leslee

    • I know that could be confusing! Okay, so basically the square piece that goes under the length of the chaise is not attached to my sofa. It’s like a movable ottoman. The cushion that sits on the sofa, making up the chaise can be removed and flipped over to fit the left side of the couch, instead of the right. Then that square piece under the chaise would just move to the other side as well to support the chaise pad. All the cushions are movable, so I’d just shift them down if I wanted to flip the chaise to the left side of the couch instead. The couch arms are stationary on either side of the couch. The only thing that moves are the pads and the square movable ottoman piece. Does that make sense? You can see the couch here to get a better picture ;)|cameron|73|best|0|1|48||6&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules&bnrid=3317500&cm_ven=AfCmtyCont&cm_cat=rewardStyle&cm_pla=CJ&cm_ite=Std

  8. I really agree with your post Michaela. When we moved to this home, I knew it was our forever house and I was kind of frozen in place of what to put where. Prior to this every home or apartment was temporary, so although I wanted things to be pleasing, I knew I wasn’t living there forever so I had some freedom. Just like you I wanted it all a certain way from the start. I had to really tell myself, “Slow down, take your time.” Don’t try to do everything simultaneously.” I do though continue to catch myself being impatient and planning multiple room upgrades/changes at the same time. It’s great to hear I’m not the only one that wants it all done now. Love TIR

  9. Love how you changed up the colors for the media console, what gave you the idea? Also I’m seriously in love with those blue pillows. Those are just FAB!

    -The Office Stylist

  10. Your new apartment is so cute! It makes me want to move to my own place and start decorating. Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!

  11. Sooooo needed this reminder today. We moved into our new home in early December after almost a year in a rental. Many of our things we moved but never unpacked. I am so anxious to finish decorating and getting things “just so”, but I have to remember it’s a process….

    Also, I am so glad you featured your entertainment center! We have too much “wood” in our living/kitchen area and I was going to chalk paint my sofa table to make it a beverage center when we have guests. I’m rethinking painting the entire piece and am going to start by just painting the sides and shelves to see how I like that look first. Or maybe I’ll try that technique on our coffee table… ;)

  12. So so true! I’m learning this same lesson as we decorate our new house. It takes time, and that is totally fine! Sometimes waiting for inspiration to come is much better than just jumping in to something we don’t love. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi Michaela,
    I love your blog! I am curious, where did you live in CA & where did you go to design school?

  14. this is beautiful and you’ve done a great job! It takes forever to get any room to be how you imagine it, but that time pays off. I spent over a year actually building a new bedroom suite in the attic of my family’s house, and now that it’s actually done and furnished, I still have to decorate. I love it anyways though.

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