- Andrea Williams
In 2011, Rich and I moved in together. We had both been living in Chicago with roommates for awhile, but after many years of dating, we were ready to combine our lives. We chose a high rise apartment on the north side of Chicago, near Lake Michigan. Best decision ever!
What we assumed would be a couple years in our first apartment turned into eight! Where did the time go? We've loved our neighborhood, the small space and especially our incredible view. A lot of memories were made here. We adopted our first cat, Mikita, got married, adopted our second cat, Dahlia, and then fostered four cats, all in this home. I actually think the small space helped us become more in-tune cat parents.
Eventually, we started to outgrow our space. Our Chicago studio apartment (yes, it's really a studio) was becoming too small. We're excited for our next chapter in a new neighborhood, but before we go, we're sharing the place where cats became part of our lives!
We've taken a ton of photos and videos over the years inside our apartment. But, they've all been cat focused, usually for Instagram. Although we've had some requests for an apartment tour, it didn't feel like we could show much more than we already did. Then, I realized we really didn't have any photos that focused on the space itself. Maybe that's because our furniture doesn't match and our place always feels a bit cramped. But, that's our life and we love it! Eventually, we decided to move aside the laundry piles and take some photos. Welcome to our first apartment together!
I've always called the window area "The Oasis". With the sunny, picturesque view, it's the perfect area for a cat to relax. Once we put up the Contempocat tree, it made the area feel more open, while adding much needed vertical space, a must for cats. We chose this cat tree model because the footprint is small and the design is sleek. With limited space, it was imperative to make the best use of it.
Because cats are such napping pros, we kept the window seat we had previously purchased. I gave it a facelift by making a custom velvet cover and pillow for it. My mom taught me how to sew when I was eight years old. Now, I'm sewing upgrades for my cat furniture. Look out world! We added a double-decker hammock from Contempocat because there is no such thing as too many places for cats to lounge.
Our "dining room", if you will, is in the cat's oasis. The black table was made by my super-talented dad. We love it and plan to have it forever. For years, we had chairs that needed to be replaced, but I couldn't find any I liked. Until one day, I was at Home Goods and ta-da! Finally, a pair of apartment-sized chairs in grey. Dahlia has since claimed both chairs as additional napping locations. Oasis complete.
Because we love plants, we've enjoyed adding to our collection. Having plants in the cat tree has been a fun, space-saving way to incorporate greenery. Some of our plants, like ferns, spider plants and succulents, are non-toxic to cats. But a few, like our Norfolk Island Pine, are mildly toxic. Our cats don't typically mess with our plants, so we feel ok having a variety. We always stay clear of the highly toxic ones, such as lilies. Note: Any plant may cause stomach upset for your cat, so be sure to do your research before bringing them into your space. If you're concerned or want to choose non-toxic plants, the ASPCA has a great list.
It's more of a bedroom area than a bedroom. Studio apartment living! The two grey corner shelves were also made by my dad. The dresser is from Ikea, but you already knew that. Everyone seems to have had this dresser at some point! Mikita, Dahlia, and often our fosters, love laying on our bed. It might be a little small for two people but it's massive if you're a cat. I bought our bed frame when I first moved to Chicago in 2007. I lived with three roommates and had a tiny bedroom. All I could fit was a full-sized bed. So, that's what we have. It's worked great in our studio.
Mikita sleeps with us every night, but Dahlia usually looks for more spacious accommodations. Eventually, we'll buy a new headboard and mattress that fits the whole fur family.
The Chicago sign? We made it ourselves! Sort of. We took the photos and then had them put on letters. Then, my dad attached them to a long base. We displayed it at our wedding. It's one of our favorite decor pieces!
The Living Room
Walk three steps. You've entered the "living room". It's a bit eclectic; our couch is actually a loveseat and we have a small ottoman as a coffee table. Over the years, we evolved and some of the pieces purchased prior to being cat parents no longer fit our lifestyle or cat's claws. Meaning, out with the tweed and in with the velvet! In a perfect world, our cats would use their scratching post 100% of the time. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. So, we began choosing more densely woven fabrics, like velvet and microfiber, that are less attractive to cats. I see a lot of velvet in our future.
We wanted to show our personality in our photo collage, but to be honest, I think we need more cat photography and artwork. Just like cat lounging spots, you can never have enough.
In the corner we have two more grey shelves, made by, wait for it, my dad. Rearranging these shelves over the years has been a fun creative outlet. Our TV stand however, is so small... I'm starting to realize how much furniture we're going to need in our new apartment.
The silver plant table is from a flea market in Wisconsin. I bought it for $5.00, Rich thought it was such a stupid purchase. "But look Rich, it has a drawer!" I love weird vintage finds. My dad re-finished it (it used to be green and rusty). Now, it's one of our favorite little pieces. We call it "the silver thing."
I considered removing the litter box for this photo. But, that felt inauthentic. So, the crapper stayed. I'm actually happy to have this litter box in our living room. It represents years of trying to find a basic high-sided litter box that was easy to clean and didn't constantly send litter flying. Thankfully, it wonderfully contains Mikita's high-peeing artwork. I am forever grateful to my friend Jennifer who sent this to us knowing it would solve our problems. If you don't follow her and her foster cats @kitten.nuggets, I highly recommend!
Let's move onto the kitchen, shall we? Walk ten steps down the vast, winding hallway. Just kidding, it's more like five steps and it's neither vast nor winding. It's tiny and a miracle that we've been able to manage. At this point, I'm kind of proud that we've survived with four fur sharks swarming and two hangry humans all waiting for dinner.
Our coffee shelves were made by my brother. Like my dad, he's super talented. With Rich's growing coffee paraphernalia collection, these shelves have been really helpful.
My favorite part, the shower curtain. It took me two years to find the perfect one. I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond and I still love it! Sometimes I just go in there to stare at it. Kidding. But it does make a beautiful backdrop. I asked Mikita to "look natural" for this shot. Clearly, he nailed it.
This bathroom has been home to two shy foster cats. It was interesting trying to maneuver during the weeks we had a cat in there. Part of the time we've had two litter boxes and not much room to move. It wasn't ideal, but became necessary once we started fostering cats.
The Litter-Robot Area
Take a walk back down that hallway to another cat-centric area of the apartment. Sorry to make you walk so much. Let's start with the scratching post. I purchased this one because the height allows Mikita to get a full stretch and it looked durable. However, the original finish didn't fit with our grey and black theme. So, I covered it in contact paper. The scratching post gods must have been watching because a few months later a grey version was released. That makes me think a second scratching post would look good in our new place.
Our fanciest cat toilet has it's own custom furniture piece. It's awesome and was, you guessed it, made by my brother. The Litter-Robot deserves the best. I can't imagine my life without this litter box (yes, I said that), especially since we have multiple cats. If you've been on the fence about it, I highly recommend it. You can save $25 on the Litter-Robot here. On top of the robot, we store most of the cat toys and my wine and gin collection. Yup, our litter box cabinet doubles as a liquor shelf. Space saving.
Ok, I realize that earlier I mentioned needing more cat artwork and yet we have four pieces shown here. I stand by my earlier comment.
Moving on. Only in a studio apartment would someone write a paragraph about their hallway. But, in all honesty, this is the area that keeps our cats happy. They can run from the front door all the way to the cat tree. We setup tunnels and make fun little obstacle courses for them. Without this hallway, our small space would feel, dare I say it, too small. For those wondering; the mannequin thing on the right, it's a dress form. I bought it when I made my wedding dress. I come from crafty people.
We've been so happy in our tiny apartment in the sky; popcorn ceiling and wall-to-wall carpet included. It's been the absolute best eight years of our lives. We'll miss the view and the neighborhood, but we're excited to make new memories. The best is yet to come! See you at the new place!
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