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Our 500 Sq Ft Apartment: The Living Room and Hallway

As I mentioned before the living room is very small. It is essentially a small seating area. I discovered the magic of having books on the coffee table a few years ago and I haven’t gone back. Our goal when we think about our living room is to make it feel like a really great bookstore. We want to sit down and have lots of interesting new books and ideas right in front of us. Good design and art books can be expensive. Since the beginning of our marriage we’ve made it a priority to buy one every month or two. It’s one of those things that seems overwhelming and unreachable if you want to buy them all at once, but totally doable every month or so. Jamie from Furbish should get all the credit for this room. When she got here it felt totally unfinished. We moved our coffee table out last year because the chairs we had were too big for the space. When we replaced them with smaller chairs we just never brought the table back in. Jamie came in and created an official sitting space. She also made me buy plants, hang up the boob artwork on either side of the sofa and she brought a ton of pillows from her store. When she was done the space felt so much better!

Sources: Samtid Floor Lamp – Ikea, Boob Artwork – Udon Folded Zine from Gravel and Gold, Fiddle Fig Plant – Flower Market, Gold Urchin –Furbish, Blue Pillows – Furbish, Black+Beige Pillows – Furbish, Vintage Suzani Pillows – Furbish, Purple Pillows – In Bed, Tisdag White Lamp – Ikea, Rug – Vintage (we picked it up for cheap in Morocco.) LOVE figurine – Furbish

Click through for the rest of the story…

We had the black light fixture sitting in storage and Jamie had us go dig it out and install it. It makes such a difference and we love it. Paul has been doing a lot of these giant beach paintings and last year I took one home from the studio and hung it next to the sofa before he could sell it. I love it!

Vintage Thonet Bentwood Chairs -Purchased from a friend, Vintage Suzani Pillow – Furbish, Big Beach Artwork –Paul Ferney, White skinny side table – Room and Board, Marble Box – Furbish, Purple Vase – Furbish, Black Light fixture – Ebay

The first few months we tried to make our old bookshelves work. But they just felt weird in the space and we couldn’t really figure out why. One day I bought this shelving unit and tried it instead and it completely changed the room and made it feel much bigger. The tchotchkes on the shelf are little things we’ve collected on our travels or things we love.

Sources: Bookshelf – World Market, Swimmers Artwork –

These sketches I picked up at the Alameda Flea last year with Victoria. They are some of my favorite pieces in the apartment. The little garland I bought in France.

The hallway is long and in a way is a lot of wasted space. But I am actually glad we have it because the boys can run back and forth down the hall. We put up a coat rack for us and one for them. With a small apartment you have to have a place for everything. It helps corral all the stuff that people bring home and the kids can put away their things themselves even though they are little.

Floral Print- Bella Foster, Coatracks -Paris Flea Market, Capiz Lamp -Alameda Flea Market (similar here), Jute Rug – Custom from Abbey Carpet, Carnaval Artwork – Paris Flea Market (it has a funny story), Abstract Artwork –Michelle Armas

photos by Heather Zweig for Oh Happy Day
assisted by Jessica Heywood

  1. Yvonne Cornell

    April 4, 2013

    I love the nudes from Alameda Flea. How did you float those in the frame and are the frames from IKEA maybe? Clean and easy lines. I simply adore your husband’s wide open ocean paintings. Always have. One day, one day…….

  2. Kait | Keeping Change

    April 4, 2013

    adorable – it’s incredible how small the square footage is in this place! the bright light and smart decor choices make all the difference 🙂

  3. Rachael

    April 4, 2013

    I love love love the boob prints! I would love these but as I’m a midwife maybe I’d be taking my work home with me! They would look beautiful in our community midwifery office though, maybe I need to start a mini renovation project?
    As always, thank you for another great post. I live in a tiny London apartment but you’ve inspired me to stop complain and start being more creative with our space x

  4. Renee

    April 4, 2013

    So you don’t have the coffee table any more? Where did you put all the extra books?

  5. Sara

    April 4, 2013

    So lovely! How has your Fiddle Fig plant held up in that corner? I’ve been considering one for quite some time now but I’m not sure how she would do without a dedicated window to feed her sunlight!

  6. Lisette

    April 4, 2013

    Great pops of color in the artwork down the hallway.

  7. maja

    April 4, 2013

    Amazing and inspiring what you have done with such a small space! Is this a 2 bedroom? Would you mind perhaps posting a floorplan? Our family of 4 just moved out of a temporary situation that was a 700 sf one bedroom, so I know how challenging it can be. I’m really intrigued on how you divide up the space.

  8. jo_mi_co

    April 4, 2013

    i love how homey, but uncluttered it is!
    would love to steal so many of your goods… particularly that spiky gold coffee table ornament.

  9. nadya crouch

    April 4, 2013

    So nice! I wish I can make my family room like that, we have a little one just start crawling and standing up. But maybe one day… 😀

  10. Joan

    April 4, 2013

    I’m glad that you gave the source for the beach artwork. Of all the things in all the pics, that’s the one thing that I was going to ask you about. I love it too!

  11. Andi

    April 4, 2013

    So pretty and light – Love all the artwork! Where did you get your beach-themed prints?

  12. Lara

    April 4, 2013

    Your place is amazing and appears larger than 500sqft! It is bright, airy, and cozy. I noticed the little covered outlet near the shoes. Ever thought about turning it into a little mouse door with pretty paper? Just a thought:) Thanks for sharing your home.

  13. Samantha @ Blissfully Bossy

    April 4, 2013

    I can’t get over how amazing the white paint is! I always thought I was a bright color person, but it’s the accessories and artwork that make the room. What great character and how awesome to live in a place that truly feels like you!

  14. Christine

    April 4, 2013

    can I ask a dumb question? how do you keep your boys from playing with (and this breaking) all your little fragile trinkets?

      • jordan
      • April 4, 2013

      There was about a year (from age 1-2) where we couldn’t leave books out or Roman would rip them. But the little trinkets we don’t worry about. They are just things and aren’t expensive. If we really love something breakable we keep it up high.

  15. Kate

    April 4, 2013

    Love the apartment.

  16. annaofgreengable

    April 4, 2013

    I have to say I love the boob prints! I don’t know if I would be so bold, but I love the idea of having something unconventional, controversial?, hanging in my home. I do love that they’re right there in the living room. It normalizes something beautiful!

    xo green gable

    PS I love that you live in such close quarters. My family of 3 is thinking of living in 1400 sq. ft. and while it’s not considered hug in the town we live in, I like the idea of keeping things small and intimate. If only I had a magic hatch to hide all the mess!

  17. Christine

    April 4, 2013

    thanks for responding! my four year old uses all my decoration pieces as toys…he finds it too hard to resist. I have to keep everything up really high but I like what you said they are just things.

  18. claire

    April 4, 2013

    Love the finished look if your apartment. So tasteful yet maintaining functionality. Please tell me where you got your sofa. I have a teeny living room and have been on the hunt for a good sofa. Love yours!

      • jordan
      • April 4, 2013

      Crate and Barrel!

  19. Jeni

    April 4, 2013

    Congrats on making a small space feel so airy and full of personality without seeming clustered! Can I ask where the lovely low-profile coffee-table is from?

      • jordan
      • April 4, 2013

      From Ikea

  20. lyndsay

    April 4, 2013

    aww great!

    love the piles of art books and the idea of instant inspiration… i’m gonna splatter a bunch of art and cooking books on my coffee table now… i usually try to put stuff away but then i forget about them and then how can they be inspiring just jammed into the shelf!? ^__^

    wow i just followed the link to your hubby’s paintings, those beach paintings are AMAZING>>> … and the cake giclee prints are really cool too!

  21. Jennifer

    April 4, 2013

    You mentioned that you had a light fixture sitting in storage. What kind of storage space do you have? Did it come with your apartment? As we are downsizing, I’m having trouble with finding storage space in my new apartment. I really want to only have what we need and use but I’m running out of space for even the useful things. I also don’t want the place to look crammed to the gills.

      • jordan
      • April 4, 2013

      We have small storage room below our house that fits a shelving unit. We keep things like Christmas Decorations, Potty Training toilets, Camping Gear etc. We also keep a storage unit that we got when we first moved in. It holds large pieces of furniture we wanted to keep for a bigger house someday.

  22. lily

    April 4, 2013

    Jordan, you are a wizard with small spaces. Place looks great!!

  23. Lila Smyth

    April 4, 2013

    Love the hooks for the little guys. Cute. I also love the rug and the shelf in the living room. You have a beautiful home.

  24. Carine

    April 5, 2013

    Your home is so lovely and bright !! Oh my god, how do you keep it so tidy ? Any tip ?
    Thanks for sharing, loving it from Paris

  25. Emmerson (Odette's Writer)

    April 5, 2013

    This is remarkably beautiful. You are so good at this, like a true artist. It is such an inspiration to me.

  26. Christen

    April 5, 2013

    My husband and I are from Philadelphia and I am just swooning over your pink LOVE statue figure. May I ask where you got that?

  27. Gina

    April 5, 2013

    Jordan, can you share the width dimension of your hallway? I love that you installed the coat racks there. I’d love to do something similar, but I fear mine may be too narrow! Merci…

  28. Anna

    April 5, 2013

    You have a wonderful home, the decoration is fantastic! Great space saving ideas!

  29. Ana

    April 6, 2013

    Hello, gorgeous. Do you have the full link of the swimmers poster? love it!

  30. maryann

    April 6, 2013

    Where did you get the frames for the boob art?

      • jordan
      • April 6, 2013

      I got them from Ikea!

  31. A Pillow for Your Thoughts

    April 9, 2013

    Wow! You did an amazing job with such a small house! Where did you find the picture of all of the swimmers at (it’s behind the bookshelf in the 3rd pic down)?

    Twitter: @pillow4thoughts

      • jordan
      • April 9, 2013

      We got it from 🙂

  32. ABBY

    April 9, 2013

    Que legal!

    I like that white metal console table in the living room shots. Do you mind sharing it’s make?

    And, this kids book would pair nicely with your purple breast illustrations —,+breasts

    – A

      • jordan
      • April 9, 2013

      The white console table is from Room and Board!

  33. Elisa

    April 11, 2013

    You apartment is amazing! I’m speechless, it’s exactly the way I want my future apartment to be… I own a brazilian blog about design interior (which i’m doing some changes now, going from to .org, changing layout and that stuff, but the link is here anyway) and I would LOVE if you permit me to show this images in it. Of course I will link you back… may I?

  34. Annette

    April 15, 2013

    I love your home! The eclectic mix feels inviting and warm. AND the sketches are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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