“We are what I often call ‘Parisian minimalists’ because a lot of my favorite design is things you see in apartments there: wood floors, neutral colors, older spaces with architectural character but more modern furnishings,” says Jamie. “I love black-and-white, but you need some warm brown or gold tones to make it feel rich instead of sterile.”
Funnily enough, when they moved in, the house was a whole rainbow of colors: navy, orange, yellow, green. They switched the walls to a warm white and made some landlord-approved changes, including replacing the kitchen counters, adding a backsplash, updating the fireplace facade, and replacing bathroom fixtures. They even built out the closets, added doors, and tiled the shower!
Jamie jokes that friends often ask if they’ve been robbed, but she feels like they have a normal amount of stuff. And they treasure what they have: from the vintage dining table found on Craigslist to the modernist chairs peppered throughout the space. “Chairs are great investment pieces for a renter because they’ll fit pretty much anywhere,” Jamie says. And while she’s comfortable with Clara—whose nursery has pops of light pink and yellow and colorful books—developing a different style as she gets older, Jamie considers minimalist parenting a fun challenge.
A favorite highlight of the home is Jamie’s chic—and, yes, largely black-and-white—closet. She has a small but curated collection of designers whose work she connects with, such as Phoebe Philo’s designs for Céline. “They’re minimalist without being boring, which is what I strive for,” Jamie says.
Thankfully, that collection is covered by Brocke and Jamie’s renters insurance. People often think that renters insurance just covers furniture, but it can protect so much more, from clothing to heirlooms, like Jamie’s grandmother’s jewelry box. And it costs just pennies a day.
In the unfortunate event of a fire or break-in, landlords are only responsible for the physical structure itself and not your personal property. Renters insurance covers your belongings—in some cases, even if the theft occurs outside the home. “Thankfully, I haven’t had to use it often,” Jamie says. “The last, and one of the only times, was when someone stole a bike.”
Though Jamie and Brocke imagine they’ll outgrow their home eventually, right now they love the calming, neutral respite they’ve created. “I love the impermanence of renting,” Jamie says. “Even though we have a home that we love, the idea that we won’t be here forever is kind of exciting.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our home’s style: Warm minimalism.
Inspiration: Parisian apartments. I love the contrast of older, more ornate architecture and wooden floors with more minimal/modern furnishings. I also love (and have adopted) how the wall and moldings are typically all painted the same color. For me, the space is just as important as what goes in it.
Favorite element of the home: The architectural details: original wood floors, crystal doorknobs, keyholes, the built-in telephone stand in the hallway. You can’t recreate that history (especially not in a rental).
Biggest challenge, and how you overcame it: Having two front doors. It definitely made furniture arranging a challenge. We worked with it by creating a place to drop keys near both doors and making sure to leave a walkway. In the nursery, this meant eliminating a rocker or chair, but so far we haven’t really been too bothered by it.
What friends say about your home: We often get a joking “Have you been robbed?!” Which I think is funny because to me it doesn’t really feel like we limit stuff. We just don’t have things we don’t really love or aren’t using. So I think anyone could live that way if they wanted to! Overall, though, the response to our home is very positive, which makes me really happy. I love curating and living in our home, so I take it as such a compliment that something so personal to me resonates with people.
Biggest embarrassment: We live in an older home, so it shifts a lot. Sometimes doors are hard to open or close. Our bedroom door doesn’t currently latch, but the bathroom does (for now…). Our front door is also very difficult to close/lock. We’re constantly telling guests “Don’t worry about it, we got it.”
Proudest DIY: That’s a toss-up between the kitchen and the bathroom. Or maybe the closets? We did so much! The kitchen had laminate counters and no backsplash. We replaced it with butcher block countertops from IKEA and the difference was night and day. We also tried our hand at tiling for the first time and put up a subway tile backsplash. We added in some additional countertop and storage, as well, with cabinets we found at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore — a great place for budget home improvement finds, but can be very hit or miss! We painted them to match our cabinets and used them to fill in awkward-to-deal-with areas, like in between the stove and fridge, above the fridge, and the back area of cabinetry above the washer.
In the bathroom, we retiled the bathtub with subway tile and extended it to the ceiling, and replaced the original almond/biscuit-colored toilet and sink, added a new mirror and shelves, and places to hang towels…so just about everything. Our closets came to us doorless and pretty much empty, so we found doors, painted the insides Off-Black, and added shelving (Billy bookcases and Malm dresser from IKEA) and rods cut to size from Home Depot. I wish they were bigger, but I love them!
Biggest indulgence: Definitely the Eames Lounge, but I love it. We’ll hand it down to our kids someday.
Best advice: A fresh coat of paint in a space goes a long way (and almost every landlord seems to be okay with paint). My go-to is a warm white in a flat finish, with the same shade on the trim and walls. Also, hide your cords! It makes your space look much less temporary. I love the IKEA Besta units because they can hang on the wall and can cover up the fact that, as a renter, you don’t always have the luxury of running cables through the wall to hide them.
Dream sources: Right now, I’m currently lusting after a Menu Plinth coffee table and a gold Atollo lamp. My dream dining room light is a Serge Mouille Three-Arm Ceiling Lamp.