Apr 1

Apartment Pictures: Before and After!

A couple weeks ago Joanna shared some photos of our teeny 500 square foot apartment on A Cup of Jo. I have a lot more pictures and details about hunting for the apartment and renovations so this week I’m going to share some of them. I love a good before and after and this one was pretty crazy. When we signed the lease we agreed to manage the renovations ourselves and we spent two weeks (with the help of Paul’s parents) painting the whole apartment and hiring contractors to do floors etc. It was an exhausting project but we were thrilled with the results. (Just a warning there are some scary “before” pictures.)

Click through below to take a peek…

The landlord was willing to foot the bills of the renovations except the painting. We knew right away that we wanted to paint everything white. It reflects the light so well and makes everything feel so much bigger. We laughed that we finally had a chance to paint our apartment any color we wanted and we chose white! I know someone will ask but I don’t remember the exact color, we just went to the paint store ans asked for their most popular white paint. We got a quote for the painter and it was $1000! It seemed like a lot and we figured the apartment was so small we could finish it in a day or two. Biggest Mistake Ever! It took almost a whole week of three people painting non-stop. I’ll never make that mistake again. Painting took forever! We hired a contractor to rip up the carpet (that had been eaten by a dog!) and to refinish the floors. The wood was naturally a caramel color but we decided to have it stained a dark walnut. When we were done it felt like a completely different apartment.

I liked the wood color on the cabinets but the moulding had been painted white and the two-tone was too much. We decided to paint the cabinets all white and of course paint the walls white. I intended to replace the countertops at one point but we never got around to it. The white dramatically opened up the kitchen and made the cabinets feel lighter. The flooring was just cheap black and white vinyl but feels so iconic and we love it. The old fridge was non functioning so we ordered a new one and had it delivered.

The apartment had some mold issues (!) so we had a contractor friend come in and treat them with a mold resistant base before we painted them white. We have had no mold issues since we’ve lived here. We love all the light this room gets!

The bathroom was a little scary. Specifically the clawfoot bathtub. We use the tub a lot with kids and I knew we needed to do something drastic so we would feel comfortable using it everyday. We ended up having it sanded and resealed which made it as good as new. We also painted the walls white which made a big difference in this small room.

Our bedroom is actually a sunroom. We love the light and think it is kind of like sleeping in a treehouse. We painted the walls white (are you seeing a pattern?) but weren’t totally sure what to do with the weird linoleum flooring. My decorator friend Grant Gibson recommended we have wall to wall custom jute carpet ordered from Abbey Carpet. It was fairly inexpensive and I installed it myself with just an exacto knife.

While it was a lot of work, it was really great to be able to decide what our apartment looks like. We both really loved the results and I think it is so satisfying to transform something with potential into something wonderful.

Those are all the before and after pictures! Stay tuned for all the detailed photographs and sources over the next few days.

All after pictures by Heather Zweig


  • yulary says:

    This looks fantastic! i think you have done a really, really great job. It is amazing what paint and a new floor can do to your apartment. It looks like a comfortable home now :)

  • I originally saw the photos of this house on Cup of Jo but had no idea it was your home – absolutely amazing what you’ve done with a small space! The hard work definitely shows.

  • marie says:

    Wow! This is super impressive and inspiring.

  • Great job! It looks so pretty! I love white walls!

  • Your apartment looks so cozy and very nice. It’s so beautiful and amazing. From Malaysia :)

  • gorgeous! next time i’m looking at a flat i’m going to keep this amazing transformation in mind – such vision to make it so lovely as it is now.

  • Di says:

    It all looks amazing! I am in the midst of home renewal (taking a long long time). Where did you get the breakfast bar from – it’s lovely.

  • Well Done! Looks great!

  • Kris says:

    Hi Jordan, I saw the photos of your sweet little flat last week on Cup of Jo and I was SO INSPIRED by it. So much so that this weekend my husband and I have been clearing out clutter all weekend, and we even pulled out the nasty old carpet from the living room and have been working hard sanding the original floor boards and they are now ready to be stained. We have two little children and live in a tiny two bedroom house in England and sometimes I get depressed that we have to live in rented accommodations and I really miss the spacious houses in America (we are American). Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me and helping me realize that we can make our home lovely even if we don’t own it and even if it is very small!

    • jordan says:

      Of course! I’m so glad you felt inspired. I’d love to see pictures of your new floors and lovely home when you’re finished!

  • Thank you for sharing! It looks amazing and you have great style! My husband and I are moving to San Francisco in this Fall, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on apt hunting!!

  • Kaisa says:

    Awesome job, love what you have done to the place! Very inspirational. :)

  • I am in awe. Such a job well done!

  • wow–white paint is seriously so transforming! you guys did a stellar job of choosing what to update without completely demolishing it all–i love that you kept those kitchen floors.

  • barbara wendell says:

    I loved seeing what you’ve done to your small space! I went to Cup of Joe to get another glimpse and saw the ceramic David. Can you tell me what hotel in Florence gave them to your sons? You and Gabrielle are SO creative!

  • Carolin says:

    Wow, what a transformation. I bet you’d pay quite a bit more rent, if it had looked like this in the first place x

  • You guys did such a beautiful job on this – great reminder not to be disheartened by the “face value” of apartments. we often don’t get to choose where we live for our moves and this is a great example of what can be done if you just pull back, have some vision and invest the work. congrats on your place!

  • Freya says:

    I have spent the past year living in a tiny condo that my boyfriend’s company picked out for us. I can’t wait to move back to the States and live somewhere I pick and can decorate.

  • rachael says:

    i love all the white! don’t you love having everything feeling fresh and clean?

  • gizem says:

    It is just great Jordan! Love how amazing your house is. And before and after pictures are pretty exciting :) Great work, well done!

  • B says:

    I’ve been waiting for these pictures since you moved back! So amazing! I love how light and airy it is and the touch of femininity it has. Can’t wait to see the details!

  • Danielle says:

    What a transformation! I am always amazed at how much impact a coat of paint can have – tho those refinished floors help quite a bit, too! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Absolutely incredible! So impressive and inspring!

  • Lo SanFrancisco says:

    Looks wonderful! How do you like the rescaled tub?
    Ours is old and an odd size so we’ve been considering doing that rather than replacing it.
    Love it if you could send me the company name if you liked them.

  • mrs boo says:

    Absolutely delightful! I love your sunroom/treehouse especially.
    The white walls are lovely. Only white walls here–and yes, it makes everything more spacious seemingly.
    Gorgeous dark floors–the kids’ room is divine!

  • I love a good before and after….well done!!!!!

  • Goodness gracious! I wish my landlord ALLOWED me to spruce my place up this much! can’t wait to buy for this very reason! gorgeous transformation!


  • You guys did an incredible job!
    Don’t you love having your bed surrounded by windows? Ours is in a bay window so we’re surrounded in natural light. I love it!

  • I love how the tub has the angled ceiling above! The place has so much character!!

  • Jordan, soy Nati, vivo con mi marido, tres niños y una gata en 65 mt2 !!! Creo que tú y yo hacemos ”magia”.
    Buen trabajo!! :))

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is SO inspiring. We’ve outgrown our current apartment and are gearing up for a big move soon. It’s so nice to see how you’ve transformed your rental! And, I also need need to commiserate since I think my kitchen has very same green faux-marble tiles you have in the bathroom. Ours are asbestos, so we’ve left them in place rather than deal with a full-scale removal, but I really hate have a green kitchen floor.

  • Kelly says:

    Beautiful transformations!!

    Where dd you get the colorful, round ball garland hanging in the kids room?? I’d love that for our nursery!!

  • Lisette says:

    Great job! Looks terrific.

  • Ana says:

    You guys did such a good job. We also renovated our apartment and I know how much work is it.

  • LOVE that such a small space can be so functional!

  • This inspires me to do some work around the house! What a gorgeous “after” photo! Great job on those floors!

  • Bridget says:

    of course i’m just reiterating what everyone else here is saying, but seriously, these photos are AMAZING and a sheer delight to look at. gives hope and inspiration to all us SF renters out here.
    and because i cannot resist, here’s a glimpse of my own small sf pad: http://bit.ly/14IFyYG

  • This is a home to be incredibly proud of. Well done!

  • Laura F. says:

    Looks great! If you want to continue with your white-out of the kitchen, here’s a quick tip: Most fan blades can be easily removed. We took ours off an spray painted them white on a ceiling fan we didn’t have the wherewithal to replace.

  • That’s amazing. What a world of difference a white paint and hard wood floors can make! We live in the mission and have been wanting to rip up our carpet for a while to put down hard wood floors. I’d love to get the name of your contractor!

  • noelle says:

    what is the rainbow ball garland in the boys room? is it something you made or did you purchase…from where? love it. well done. love your home!

  • Sarah says:

    stunning – def one of the best before/afters i’ve seen!

  • jordan! high-fives for days. do you have any tips on negotiating renovations with your landlord? i’ve never been successful with this.

    • jordan says:

      Aw, thanks Katie! I’m planning on talking a little bit more about this in upcoming blog posts this week. But, if I don’t answer any of your questions – send me a quick email. :)

  • You have such an incredible eye. Had I toured that apartment when it was in the “before” stages, I would have turned right back around and retreated in fear. I love that you saw the potential the apartment had, and you’ve really made it into a beautiful home. Fantastic job!

  • Yayo says:

    Love it!!! congrats!!

  • Robin says:

    when i saw the photos on cup of jo i thought how lucky to find such an amazing place! i’m happy to see it’s amazing because you made it that way!

  • I remember when your time in France was coming to an end and you started looking for apartments. Its great to see what you guys did with the one apartment you both loved. Super inspiring photos :)

  • Vikki O'Brien says:

    Love it all!!
    Can you share paint colors with us–the walls and the trim!!
    Thanks !!

    • jordan says:

      Thank you! We actually just went to the paint store and asked for their most popular color of white. But, I can’t remember what it was called!

  • Em says:

    Just gorgeous! I particularly love the boys’ room!

  • Amelia says:

    Before and Afters are like crack to me. Thanks so much for giving me a fix!
    You did an excellent job. So so inspiring!

  • Wow! What a transformation! Kudos for tackling such a daunting revamp :)

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