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


  • Alix says:

    Jordan you never cease to amaze me. This looks incredible. It’s a testament to the vision you and Paul have, to see beyond the mold and craziness and to turn it into something wonderful.


  • Lettie says:

    Love love love it. Such a fresh and beautiful look! What is your go-to color of white paint?

    • jordan says:

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure what color of white we used in the place. We just went to the paint store and asked for the most popular color!

  • Damaris says:

    What I love about this is that you made it into your own. A lot of people don’t even put pictures on their walls because it’s “just a rental.” I’ve always lived in rentals and I also try to make it my own. If it’s where I’m going to live, I might as well love it. This is really inspiring Jordan. Good job.

  • SO HOMEY. You have killer taste.

  • alyssa says:

    wonderful transformation. you have an amazing eye for design, jordan! i love it. and now i want teeny 500 square foot apartment too haha ;)

  • Emily says:

    Love the changes and your new space.

  • Emily says:

    You have amazing vision and bravery! So many people would be too afraid or unable to see the potential in your apartment. I now I would have struggled to imagine the after shots. A truly amazing transformation!

  • Di says:

    Thank you for telling me where the breakfast bar came from – it’s just perfect for my kitchen too! I was looking for something just like that.

  • laure says:

    Magnifique ! J’adooooore !

  • chloe says:

    i absolutely love this post! the white is so simple and sophisticated – such a dream :)
    i also adore the balloons in the kitchen, so cute!

  • joyo says:

    Amazing! Congratulations on a complete transformation! You made the space beautiful, light and so welcoming! I always love seeing what people do with small spaces, and you’re end results are inspiring. :D

  • Kari says:

    I love the rugs in the kids room and master bedroom. Were these random finds through the years, or did you purchase them at a certain store? My fiance and I are getting married in a few months and I’d love to get married on a really cool, vintage rug!

    • jordan says:

      The rugs in the living room and our bedroom are from Morocco (we visited while living in Paris.) We got the vintage rug in the boys room off Craigslist!

  • i loved your place when i saw it on cup of jo and was so inspired by your comment about chucking all your stuff that i immediately went and threw something in the trash. it is liberating! your space is perfect.

  • Iris says:

    Hi Jordan. WOW what a wonderful transformation. I wish my landlord would let me do what I want to my place. Would kill for wood floors and white kitchen cabinets….I feel like I would be such a happier girl coming home to wood floors…I mean, I know there is so much more to worry about in this world, but in my little life, wood floors are perfection and all happiness haha.
    QUICK QUESTION: Jute carpet with only exacto knife?? What did you use to keep it down from moving or lifting at edges? Looks great and looks super easy.


  • Mimi says:

    So inspiring! We also live in a small space and love the idea of the kiddos sharing a room one day (#2 on the way!). Would love to know where they kids bedding is from if you don’t mind sharing. Thanks!

    • jordan says:

      Hi Mimi! The kids’ duvets are homemade. But I used Heather Ross Moon Fabric. Hope that helps!

  • katherine says:

    Hi, Jordan!
    Great Before & After post. I am a SF-Bay resident myself and may soon be making the move to SF proper. Since apartment hunting can be overwhelming in itself, I am curious…Did you or Jo publish a post on the process of finding THE apartment? And how you convinced a landlord to rehab the space…I think it would be hard to find someone willing to rent it for the listed price AND pay for renovations, maybe not? Any details around the process and negotiating with the landlord would be awesome!
    Happy Monday!

    • jordan says:

      Over the next few days I’ll be sharing a little more about our experience looking for an apartment here in SF – including meeting our landlord. So, stay tuned for the details! (But, if I don’t answer your questions specifically, feel free to send me an email.) :)

  • Kacie says:

    I was so impressed!!!!! What a wonderful transformation! I love you space. Especially the boys room! So lovely.


  • rebecca says:

    what a lovely transformation. as a long time reader, it’s always such a joy to be invited into your home–thank you! beautiful work!

  • I am in love with your house. I found your blog through Cup Of Jo a few weeks ago and I love it here. Such a beautiful, happy corner of the internet you have created!

    (I’ll also never complain about not having enough space again after seeing how wonderfully you made use of yours.)

  • Sammy peterson says:

    The whole thing is heaven! Can I ask you where. You got the rug in the boys room? Love!

  • debra says:

    What a wonderful transformation. it is stunning!
    I love the pear cushion on the child’s bed…any idea where this is from?

  • Kassi says:

    Wow, this is stunning! Those floors are to die for. And the pics are great too! Somehow any pics I take of my space look completely barren and awkward…no matter how great they look in person!

  • Sammie says:

    Love the sofa and pillows! Could you share sources for the living room?

  • Rosie says:

    I am OBSESSED with before and after photo’s. These are awesome! The kids room is amazing.

  • Jennifer says:

    I was at Bi-Rite Saturday and wondering what little stoop that led up to this incredible place was yours.
    I am in the process of redoing a lot of the rooms in my apartment. I am working on my 8 year olds room right now. I’ll link you up when we do the before and after post. We are lucky too in being able to do whatever we want with the colors, floors and walls.

    Congrats on your beautiful home.

  • WOWEE WOW WOW! I had seen the darling pix of your apartment on Cup of Jo and so admired everything, but I had no idea what the before looked like. I would have turned around and run away! What an AMAZING job you guys did in turning this place around. You utterly transformed it! Beautiful.

  • Jules says:

    Gorgeous! The kids room is so darn cute!! Congrats on your lovely home.


    Jules of Canines & Couture

  • Tammy says:

    I don’t impress easily, but wow… what a stunning transformation. An awesome reminder of what you can do with a lot of vision and hard work.

  • Kate says:

    LOVELY! I love the kids’ bedroom. And the bathroom! Great styling.

  • Camille says:

    Love how you make small space amazing! Funny, I just wrote a post today about how much I love yours and a couple other blogger’s homes. What a beautiful space.

  • nat says:

    Oh Jordan,
    I’ve been waiting to see this all (caught your sneak peek on IG the other week) and am SO excited, inspired and just…go you guys! Especially inspiring given that it’s 500square feet.
    It’s awesome!
    Thanks so much for sharing it with us,

  • Katherine says:

    You guys did an amazing job! Your apartment looks fantastic. Congratulations!

  • meg says:

    You did a FANTASTIC job!
    The space looks so warm and comfy.


  • Lubna says:

    I’m a huge fan of interiors and transformations and this was such a pleasure! Love how you completely renovated everything from the wood floors to the molded walls. The results are fantastic – a cozy, safe home for you and your family! :)


  • Alice says:

    This looks incredible- you did such a good job!! xx

  • Erin says:

    I loved these pictures on Joanna’s blog a few weeks ago, but seeing the transformation has me even more inspired – gorgeously done!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Gabriela says:

    Hey Jordan! It looks really really good! But I was wondering, is the ikea isle the only eating table in the house? how do you do to eat all together in a family of four? what about when people come over? I enjoy casual eating around the coffee table sometimes, but having a proper dining space is quite essential to me.

    • jordan says:

      Yes, the Ikea Island is the only eating table in our house. For dinner, we place the food on the counter nearby so it doesn’t take up any extra space. That way, we can all fit around the table on stools. When we throw parties, it can get a little tight so we serve food buffet style or else have soup on the stoop nights!

  • Barb says:

    Hi – what a great before & after! You did an amazing job! How did you re-do the bathtub? Was it DIY or did you hire someone to come in and sand/reseal it? We have an older tub in our one bathroom and no budget for a major reno, any tips would be appreciated! We’re just north of you in Petaluma, so hoping it’s a local source that we can call….thanks!

  • Rayani says:

    I love everything that you have done in your apartment, great job, and OMG that colorful garland in the kids roon, just lovely.

    Hugs from Brasil

  • Simone says:

    Love your home! Enjoy it!

  • wow! what a fabulous transformation! loving all the ideas!

  • lyndsay says:

    amazing jordan! and super inspiring… love the darker walnut stain on the refinished wood floors in your sons’ room, too!

  • TEM says:

    WOW! I dream of being able to do that sort of thing to a rental apartment! The place I’m currently in is nicely renovated, but a lot of the choices that were made weren’t ones I would have chosen (so much beige faux-stone tile! Ack!), so I’m hoping that my next apartment will be more of a fixer-upper. I’d love to hear about how you talked a landlord into letting you rip out carpet (one of my person pet peeves in apartments! Yuck!) and do all those other renovations! :-)

  • Maria says:

    Oh my! You always turn a dreadful and lifeless space into something so pretty and stylish in such gracious manner! and it seems effortless! Thanks for sharing! Congrats!

  • Such a cute apartment and so inspiring!! I love your sofa… Can I ask where you got it?

  • Shayla says:

    AMAZING! This is one of the loveliest spaces I have ever seen; it’s awesome how huge you made it seem by using every square inch of the space to it’s maximum yet it doesn’t feel crowded. True Brilliance!

  • Siobhan says:

    Loved this post! what you’ve done with that space is incredible and I love the clean, light space that is the result of a lot of TLC it seems :) Kid’s room is a dream!
    Siobhan xo
    P a n d a P o p
    Blog Lovin
    ♥ ♥ ♥

  • Wow! This is absolutely awesome! The ideas in getting this messy aparment done are amazing! I can’t believe this is it! So perfect and condusive for living. Thanks for posting!

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