Our Portland Apartment and Studio Tour

Keith and I relocated from Chicago to Portland in September, to a bright and contemporary essentialist space on the East side.

Having spent our 20s in old, quirky if larger apartments in the Midwest, we were ready for something newer and more efficient. We'd been moving along the minimalism spectrum and were interested in reducing our footprint. So we considered the move a chance to find a place that would better suit our current lifestyle.

And we did! Here is a peek inside our place, some of our favorite features, and my cozy spots to get work done when at home.

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Built in 2012, our little top-floor apartment wooed us first with its deceptive openness: huge south-facing picture windows and a balcony overlooking Portland greenery, warm polished concrete floors. Plus we appreciated the LEED certification and ground-level bike room.

At 700 square feet, the Portland apartment is 30% smaller than our apartment in Chicago – small, but just what we were looking for. Knowing your surroundings influence your thoughts and mood, we embraced the chance to be considerate about our environment and our possessions, to focus on items of quality and/or significance to us. 

The result is that our place feels cozy, welcoming, calming.


This is our first adult couch (not inherited), and my current favorite place to work. I love to sip coffee and watch the sunrise in the mornings. Neither of us have had a sectional before, but we love it. It's just a few inches smaller than the full-size version of the same couch – just right for spreading out my computer, iPad and drawing tools by day, and putting them all away to Netflix at night.

We love the greenery outside our windows, so we placed the mirror to bring more of it inside. The glass lamp over the couch keeps the view unobstructed. We love the way the light in Portland changes every few minutes. 

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Keith has an eye for mid century Danish furniture. He picked up the shelf (we sold a couple matching chests of drawers for the move), table and chairs from a collector he befriended in Cleveland after college. Keith taught me the value of a good glass table, which keeps a room feeling open.

Where Keith shines at furniture, the home's textiles were mostly my contributions, or gifts from our friends who know our love of blankets. The rose and red kilim rug was a gift from my grandmother, 10 years ago. I loved it then, and even more now. She was so good at finding beautiful items at thrift stores and yard sales, she happily and generously gave them away at every opportunity. 

Our card catalog belonged to my brother back in high school. At the time, his hobbies were growing bonsai plants and photography, and I've left some of his original labels on the drawers. 

We gave away a lot of our books in the move (it took a few waves to really pare down). But we kept those books that we still want to read, those we like to loan out, and those we really do plan to keep forever. After all, essentialism is about keeping just those things you really use.

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In the bedroom, we kept things easy and light – just the way you want the place you sleep.

Our new Avocado mattress and pillows are a dream – one of our favorite additions to the apartment. We researched all the options around and were delighted to partner with Avocado in the end. They're eco-friendly, made with organic and natural materials by hand in California. And the mattress has that *just right* amount of firmness. It's a treat to sleep on or, sometimes, work on.

With low square footage, it's nice to keep things off the floor. So, I scouted shelves to use bedside tables that keep the area around the bed more open. 

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The art in our home is half Keith's, half mine. I love the collection Keith has built since college – pieces from artists he knew and had framed, others he found at flea markets. And I cherish the ones by my mom, which she has given me over the years. They are all paintings of bodies of water, which we both love.

We have a guest room too – more on that later. 

Thanks for touring our Portland apartment (and my home studio)! Hope this was as fun for you as it was for us.


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