Home Tour: Our New Apartment in a Converted School

It’s been almost three months since we moved into our little one bedroom apartment in an old converted high school. Our place is basically an old classroom remodeled into a one-bedroom flat. It’s got great historic features—like the brick walls and gigantic windows—mixed with modern finishes like high ceilings, exposed pipes, and faux slate flooring.

This apartment is small, but it still feels like a huge accomplishment to be mostly settled after being here only three months. All our artwork is hung, our things all have a place, and we’re ready to decorate for fall. But before I go pumpkin crazy, I want to give you a quick photo tour of what the place looks like now. To me, it’s so interesting how tastes can change over time and I love having (and sharing!) snapshots of my evolving style.

If you’ve been following along with the blog recently, you may have seen most of the rooms in our apartment already. It’s a very small space, so there’s truly not much more to share!

Entrance area

We’ll start in the ‘entrance’ area, which we ended up using mostly for kitchen storage (because the cabinets are seriously lacking in storage space and I may have too many baking gadgets. Let’s not tell Sam about the Williams Sonoma order I placed today, OK?).

I just found this antique baker’s (or cobbler’s?) rack in NOVA last month while I was antiquing with my sister. They were only asking $225 for it at the antique store. I scooped it up very quickly, no second thought given! The rack was a total steal because it’s gorgeous and is in excellent shape. These baker style racks typically sell for $400+, so I feel very lucky to have found mine for such an affordable price! The color and patina of the wood is just so beautiful and the wheels are really neat too.

I haven’t had too much time to play around with styling the rack yet. Right now it’s just overloaded with kitchen-y things that I thought were pretty. The large Stanley thermos is a recent find too. It’s made entirely of metal on the inside (exactly what we were looking for) and is in really excellent condition. We can’t wait to use it on our next fall camping trip!


You’ve probably seen the rest of our kitchen already, so I’ll keep it brief in here. I built that plate rack when I realized my Royal Doulton 1815 dinner plates were too wide to fit in the kitchen’s upper cabinets. Having a large English style plate rack in my kitchen is truly a dream come true. I am very proud of myself for designing and building it! As an update for anyone who is wondering—it’s been wonderful storage and was totally worth the effort. I love the configuration and wouldn’t change a thing about it.

I’ve been collecting vintage rolling pins for a while now and was happy to hang them up, en masse, for the first time in this apartment. My McCoy collection and vintage floral prints really steal the show in the kitchen. Thank god for high ceilings!

On the way to the living room, you pass by our pantry coat closet. Kitchen storage is such a major problem in this apartment. So we decided to forgo the convenience of a coat closet and just turn it into food storage. We added an adjustable metal shelving rack and some baskets, and poof! It became a pantry. It’s a good enough solution for now. All my cookie cutters, Nordic Ware pans and the baking supplies we hoarded need somewhere to live, right?

Dining area

The living room and dining room are basically the same space. It’s such a small area that the only place our couch fits is pushed up against the kitchen island. Sigh.

My china cabinet is great for storing more baking tools on bottom and some of my pretty collections up top. That chalkboard above the dining table is actually built into the wall. It may be partially original to the property. They kept a lot of the original features but to me this seems like a very small chalkboard for such a large classroom. It also seems like it may be made of cement board or something—definitely not slate). In any case, it’s pretty. I hung that wreath over it the first week we moved in. It hasn’t moved from that spot, although I’ll probably replace it with a fall wreath soon!

My antique dining chairs are something I’ve talked about before here on the blog. They’re all mismatched, bought secondhand, and super sturdy. It’s an ongoing project to get them all painted green. The kitchen table is a temporary solution—I am actually on the hunt for a really old wooden plank farm table. Something early American that’s all wood—maybe oak, maple or heart pine. I’m very picky (and on a budget) so it may take me a long time to find the right one. So just ignore that 50’s metal top table in the corner—you don’t even see it.

My favorite armchairs

My living room came together nicely and is the coziest little space. Those mid-century armchairs are my FAVORITE pieces of furniture, ever. I found them in 2014 for $12 each at the Impossible Dream thrift store in Watertown, NY. At the time, I had no idea they were so valuable. I just knew they looked old and had lots of potential.

Although the chairs were only $12 each, I did have to pay a professional to completely redo the webbing (it was torn to shreds). I also had to pay for custom upholstery in the form of new cushions and cushion covers for the chairs. It was about $400 in total. This was a LOT of money for me to spend on a couple of chairs back in 2014. But, six years later and I’m still completely in love with them. I love the fabric, I love the teak, and everything is holding up very well. This was my first major furniture investment and I think I chose very wisely.

Living room

The couch in the living room is getting a bit old—we purchased it secondhand from a consignment shop a few years ago. I am thinking of sewing a slipcover for it, because although the fabric is showing wear, it’s still the comfiest couch ever. The media console was a $20 find from the Goodwill Clearance Center last year. It’s an 80’s office credenza that we painted green. It’s excellent storage and I still love it.

Our coffee table is a large ottoman I purchased on clearance from Pier1 Imports a few years ago. The tray on top is also from Pier1. I’m really sad that they are going out of business (jury is still out on their ‘new’ website). Although I try to shop mostly secondhand, I’ve always loved the holiday decor at Pier1 and will really miss holiday shopping in their stores.

We have two long-haired miniature dachshunds so I bought a pet-friendly rug from Home Depot that’s really easy to vacuum and clean. It works well in the living room and really ties everything together, decor wise. Vintage wool rugs are seriously beautiful and I would have loved to find one for this space. But the rate at which my dogs shed just makes the vacuuming seem too daunting a task. Does anyone have experience with pets and wool rugs? I still need something for floor in our bedroom—talk me into it!

The old box spring light is something I made years ago when we lived in NY. My husband hated it at the time (as did my realtor! Haha.) But it’s hung in every one of our homes since. Every person who visits our home loves it and ends up wanting one for themselves. Told ya so, Sam (he’s come around and now loves it, too). The antique corbels are a recent find and fit perfectly in that awkward opening in the wall. They really help to age the space too—without them it was a bit too much bright white, right angles and clean lines. We like old and crusty.

Hallway and bedroom

Heading to the bedroom, you pass by all our bookshelves. The orange one is actually built into the wall and was constructed from the bleachers they removed from the high school’s old gymnasium. The other two bookshelves are ours, although one of them is going to be sent back to storage when the holidays roll around. Unfortunately, it’s in the space where our Christmas tree is going to go—obviously tree trumps books.

In the past year or so I have begun prioritizing our bedroom space. Facebook Marketplace finally delivered on the perfect queen bed; I found those beautiful nightstands at an antique store (for $20 each!) last fall; and my gorgeous tattered armchair finally made it out of storage and into our home. I’ve also been busy collecting vintage pillows, bedding and floral artwork recently. All of these small decor items have come together to make a lovely room—one that makes mornings so inspiring and cheerful.

Last month I bought an old oak linen cabinet and organized my prettiest craft notions into it. Extra storage in this apartment is always helpful, especially when it’s so beautiful. The small wood chair is a designer MCM piece, worth about $200. Mine is an original, not a remake, based on the markings and finish color. I bought it at the local thrift store for $15.00—another steal. My large floor mirror was $20 at an antique store years ago.

Closet, laundry and storage

The closet area and laundry room in this apartment share a large space and give us tons of storage. But since it’s all open space with no closet doors it isn’t very pretty. I kept debating wether or not spend time and money adding curtains on both sides to hide all the clothes and stuff. But since we’re possibly looking at buying a house next year I decided not to bother. So instead of showing you our washing machine, clothes and all the other crap we store in this space, I cropped it out and am just sharing my pretty blue dresser instead. That green mirror is from Ikea and I found the last one when it was discontinued a few years ago. Can you tell how much I love green yet?


The bathroom is the last room I have to show you, but it’s really tiny and therefor difficult to photograph. I’ve got lots of cute decor in there—vintage planters and towels, floral prints, embroidered birds and dried flowers. It’s a pretty space despite the ugly plastic lighting fixtures and builder’s grade mirror.

So, that’s the entire apartment. Pretty small, huh? We’re happy and content here for now, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to move again soon. Let’s hope the real estate market picks up next spring and that we find the perfect little fixer upper close to Sam’s job. I could really use a project to work on for our next few years here in Virginia (and also, I want a garden! And a game room, garage workshop, and so many other things!)

Thanks for stopping by to tour our cozy little home! I’m gonna go dig all my pumpkins out of storage now.