adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Our Home: Brought To You By Ikea

I am so excited to finally share our Home Tour with you all!  You might remember that I looked at 3 different apartments and 2 houses during my search for the perfect place, but the minute I saw this apartment, I knew it was home.  It had 3 bedrooms, a beautiful kitchen, a balcony and was in a great location.  I was so excited to set it up and make it our own.  There was one problem:  We had no furniture.  Literally nothing.  We had brought some bedding, clothing and kitchen supplies from home, but that was about it.  We had an entire 3-bedroom apartment to furnish on a very small budget. My whole life I've used hand-me-down furniture from my parents and childhood, so Michael and I have never really lived in a space that was made up in "our style."  We were really happy to have the opportunity to design a home from scratch, but it seemed foolish to spend a lot of money buying high quality, expensive stuff when we knew, eventually, we'd be leaving it behind in the next few years.  Enter, a little creativity and a lot of Ikea.    Would you believe that I'd never stepped foot in an Ikea until I moved here?  I know, right!  Crazy!  Especially crazy since I've practically lived in Ikea, making sometimes daily trips over the last few months.  You might notice a lot of Ikea furniture in these pictures.  You should.  Virtually every piece is from Ikea with the exception of a few things.   It's cheap, it looks nice, and did I mention it's cheap? That being said, let's get started!  Pretend like you just walked in our front door.  Welcome!  You are now in our front hallway.

this is your view right when you walk in the door

On the left you can see the entrance to our living room.  Come on in!

fig is here to welcome you to our living room

I love the bright open space and tiled floors.  If you look to the left in the picture below, you'll notice that the living room opens up in the kitchen.  This is almost unheard of here in France, but it was really important to me to find an apartment with an open floor plan.  I think it makes such a difference.  I love to be in the kitchen and cook, but I don't like to be isolated from everything else that's going on.  This gives me the best of both worlds!

love the open floor plan

Let's take a closer look at some of the details to see what we used to decorate this space on a very, very tight budget.  The throw on the couch is a sarong that I bought on our honeymoon in Thailand.  I thought it added some nice splashes of color to the room and makes the couch look This crate below is actually a "street find" and was Michael's little project.  You can find these fruit crates all over the place, so we were able to pick a really nice and clean one.  We added some succulents and a postcard of a California beach to create a whimsical little window.

like a window to another place

I think the best way to bring life to a room is to, literally, bring life to a room.  I love filling a space with lots of plants, so that's what we did.  We had some trouble trying to figure out what to hang on the walls by the dining table because those walls are solid cement.  It was impossible to hammer a nail into the wall, but the previous tenants had already drilled hooks.  So we added some hanging pathos plants.

the "tablecloth" is really just fabric that I bought for 2€ at Ikea.

Speaking of plants and street finds, check out my favorite little corner of the living room.

the blinds were broken when i took this picture, but they are finally fixed. this doorway leads to the balcony

I found both the chair and this rolling closet on the street during the first weeks that we were living in Montpellier.  Like some kind of freak, I dragged them back to our hotel room and crammed them in a corner.  I just knew with a little TLC, they would come in handy.  The chair just so happened to be from, where else, Ikea!  So I scrubbed it down with cleaner and bought a new cushion for 19€.  After I cleaned off the rolling closet, we decided it would make a perfect rack from which to hang plants by the balcony window. Speaking of the balcony, here it is.

figgy's courtyard

You can see our little grill and we're working on building up a collection of furniture.  We found this chair on the street.  Michael went out with a bucket of cleaner and a sponge and 15 minutes later, it was as good as new. No proper living room would be complete without an entertainment center.

it works! sort of... we still don't have that TV working.  But someday, when we do, we'll hook up our XBOX so that we can watch all the DVDs that we brought with us.  For now, the entertainment center consists of some pretty badass speakers, the MacBook on the right, and the external HD behind it full of 157 GB of music.  So we have that going for us. Along with my potted plants, I love having fresh cut flowers in the house.  But I didn't want to have to buy all kinds of new vases.  So I started saving interesting wine bottles and jars.  I've used them through the house to decorate and also to serve as vases for my flowers.  These bottles sit on the "mantle" above our furnace in the living room.

perfect vases

on the "bar" that separates the living room from the kitchen

Yes, I've had to be creative with what I use to decorate so that I don't end up buying a lot of vases, picture frames and knick knacks that we'll just have to leave behind when we move back to the States someday.  Michael brought his collection of Bay Area Parks postcards and, together, they have made a beautiful focal point for our living room.

reminds us of home.

Let's head into the kitchen!

la cuisine

Remember when I told you how lucky we were to find a rental that already had a stovetop, oven and dishwasher?  Well, what I didn't realize is that the stovetop is induction and the oven is broken.  That's ok though, we've managed to get by because we brought our Martha Stewart Dutch Oven and All-Clad pots and pans, all of which work on an induction stove.  We'll probably end up buying a new oven at some point, but for now it's not that big of a deal.  We bought the refrigerator from Michael's co-workers and were thrilled that it matched the kitchen perfectly!

matchy matchy!

We don't have a ton of drawers, which is a little bit of a bummer.  We keep our small amount of dishes (I got some steals at the 1€ store!  Dishes from Pottery Barn for 1€ each!) in this cabinet:

other side of the kitchen

The drawer below it holds all of our kitchen gadgets that I brought from the U.S. (like vegetable peeler, garlic press, knives, measuring cups, etc).  So we keep all of our silverware in this cute little eggy holders.

also where i keep the french press

And that's mostly because the only other drawer in the kitchen is full of this:

straight from the U.S.!

Before we move onto the bedrooms, maybe you need to take a quick bathroom break?  Well, let us explain a few things about the bathrooms in this apartment.  We have what we call, The Toilet Room.

i just could not resist buying and framing that print of an old school RV driving down PCH.

And it's literally, just a toilet.  But we added a mirror and reading material for you.  No sink though.

you can still do a quick once over before you leave

To wash your hands, you can either stop in the kitchen or go down the hall to another bathroom, which we never, ever use.

no man's land.

It has a sink and a teeny, tiny shower.  And honestly, we never use it.  That's because right next door to this bathroom is another bathroom.  Our bathroom.  But still no toilet.

our bathroom

This bathroom is right across from our bedroom.  And finally!  I have a bathroom with two sinks!  We also had a tub that we rigged into a shower.  These things make me really happy.  But don't ask why the washing machine juts out like that.  It's a long story.  A story that does not make me happy. Since now we're right by our bedroom, would you like to check it out?

our nice comfortable bed

Even though it's an Ikea bed, it's still really comfortable.  We agreed that our one splurge would be on a big, soft bed.  After all, no one wants to sleep on an uncomfortable - or even semi-comfortable - bed for 2 years.

our dresser and "stereo system"

brought my jewelry rack :)

The nice thing about our bedroom is that we have a huge walk in closet.

woohoo! also my changing room

for hanging

for folding

my scarves and other things.

If you think we fit all of our clothes in that huge closet, you are very wrong.  But luckily we have 2 other bedrooms with large closets where we are now keeping our "winter" attire.  Want to see the other bedrooms?  Come on! This is where you'll be staying when you come to visit.  It's the main Guest Room.

so nice of you to visit!

This couch folds out to a double bed and the tables break apart to form two nightstands.  Yes, it's another orange room (thanks previous tenants) but at least you have a nice view of the balcony!  If you couldn't tell from previous post pictures, this room also doubles as our "laundry" room.

I couldn't resist buying this artwork from Ikea. It's kinda-sorta-almost San Francisco.

If you're visiting with more than one other person, no biggie!  We have another makeshift guest room.  We call it the Pallet Room.

the third bedroom

Remember when I told you I wanted to make this?  Well, we did it!  And the pallet bed is actually surprisingly comfortable!  We really couldn't justify buying a third bed, so we made this pallet bed out of some clean pallets we found at a furniture store near our hotel and a mattress from Ikea that cost us 20€.  Because the pallets are completely intact and the boards are really close together, it serves as a nice base for the mattress.  It's really not bad!  It might not have wheels like the fancy one on Design Sponge, but it works!

go ahead, take a nap!

shelf and lamp for your use

Well guys, that's about it.  I guess it's time to head back to the front door.

hallway from the bedrooms

What's that?  You're wondering what's on the wall there?  Well it's just a little collage I made of teeny tiny pictures I've taken from our travels in California, Thailand, Croatia, France, and Germany.

teeny tiny memories

From our couch, the doorway to the hallway frames the pattern nicely.

french doorways from the living room back out into the hallway

Ok, ok, ok.  It really is time to go.  I've babbled on long enough.  I hope you like our home!  Thanks so much for stopping by.  I'm going to sit on the balcony with Michael for a post-work beer.  Now if only we had another chair...

time to scavenge the streets!

À bientôt

16 Responses to “Our Home: Brought To You By Ikea”

  1. i’m impressed! although i didn’t expect anything less of you.

    this is making me mad at myself for never posting a tour of my house, i’ve been in it since october and my blog readers still don’t have a full feel for it. shame on me.

    but i’m happy you’re adapting well to you living space, but come on i think you should splurge for a second outdoor chair, ha.

    • Natalie says:

      thanks alexa!! you should totally do a home tour! no time like the present ;)

      earlier michael and i saw another great looking chair on the street and we meant to pick it up on our way back home, but forgot! so i just read your comment and i was all, “omg! the chair! do you think it’s still there?” michael just went out to check. ha! FYI – it’s 1am. this is how we roll now.

  2. Devon says:

    I love your new home :) You and Michael have personalized it so well and it looks so inviting. I can’t wait to come and stay in one of your orange rooms!

  3. Julia says:

    i am obsessed! love my bedroom – cannot wait to sleep in it. what a bright, airy, beautiful french home you have made yourselves. oh and PS- when i lived with nora in boston, we had that lovely ikea chair that you found on the street. can’t wait to come visit!

  4. alyssa says:

    Je l’adore!!! You have done a fantastic job in such a short time! And that rolling closet is such a great place to put plants! So crafty, mademoiselle. I’m impressed!

  5. Adam says:

    Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! The place looks great and it seems huge? I thought people in Europe lived in drawers or something…congrats Nat.

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks, Adam!! I know, it’s crazy how big it is! 104 sq. meters – way bigger than our place in SF and about $1k cheaper per month. Score!

  6. Greer says:

    Natalie! You’ve done such a great job with your place! it look so warm and inviting! I hope that you and Michael are doing great, miss you! love you! Congratulations!

  7. Randi says:

    Beautiful Natalie – great work! Can’t wait to stay in that lovely orange guest room!

  8. Jess says:

    Nat, it’s lovely! And SO HUGE compared to parisian apartments. The kitchen is fabulous. Wish we could visit in a wink…xoxo

  9. Susan says:

    Nat, it’s lovely! And what a great apt!!! You’re very talented (not a surprise!) You have a knack! Enjoy the weeky festivals too!

Leave a Reply

Design by RoyCreative