Regular Spaces, Vol. 1 | A 400-sq.ft Somerville Apartment

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By Mary Stathos

Welcome to Regular Spaces, a column I created for my own mental sanity because all of a sudden one day everyone on the internet owned these beautiful modern homes filled with high-end, vintage-inspired furniture, while I still have about 400 square feet and a leaky toilet. In the age of the internet acting like a big brother reminder to work hard so we too can have nice things, I wanted to create a space to show off the regular, the renter-friendly, the unfinished, and the deeply loved and lived-in spaces. This month, I am starting with my own regular little space. 

What makes your space regular?

I rent an apartment in a really old house that was converted into eight units, and it’s pretty small.  I’m not allowed to paint. My landlord isn’t necessarily proactive with maintenance (hence the leaky toilet). I can touch every wall in my bathroom at the same time. I don’t have any kitchen drawers — that one isn’t even regular, it’s just pretty wild. 

What makes your space special?

I love my home. It’s the first apartment I’ve rented that has its own outdoor space. Even though it’s really just a parking lot, it feels so fancy to me. I love my neighbors; we help each other with things like checking that our ovens are off or watching our cats. It also gets really nice light and has big windows. I think what makes it most special though is the work that I have done to make it feel like home by adding lots of art and thrifted decorations and a lot of color. 

How long did it take for you to collect the items you have and where did you get them? 

I have been collecting thrifted decorations since 2016 and probably collected the most stuff between 2018 and 2019, but I got most of the larger furniture items in the last two years or so. The first thing I bought was a 1970s cat tea towel that I found on Etsy, and the most recent thing I bought is a big Rainbow Bright Suitcase. I get a lot of my decorations second hand, either from thrift stores, vintage shops, or Etsy/eBay. I’ve had some success with Facebook Marketplace for furniture, but most of it is new and a lot of it is from Wayfair. 

How would you describe your style in 3 words or less? 

Bright, eclectic, cozy

How much thought goes into picking out a new piece of furniture or decor? What is that process like?

I would say that has changed over the years for me. I used to be a lot less intentional and finding my “style” took a long time. Now that I have more space, I find that I am even more intentional. I really love 80’s character decorations (like CareBears) and anything with cats on it, so lately the process has been a lot of “Do I really need a twelfth cat plate?” I’ve been trying to add more variety. I love a gallery wall or a shelf full of decorations. Ultimately, I try not to overthink it. If it brings me joy and it matches the colors in my home, I usually opt to buy it. 

How do you want people to feel when they enter your space?

I want people to feel at home and comfortable. I used to see this thing on the internet that was like “I want my home to be so clean that you can’t even tell someone lives here.” I feel the opposite. I want it to be clean, of course, but I want it to feel like an extension of myself, and I think it does. 

Final question: What’s one thing in your space that you really want to show off?

My Garfield phone

Mary Stathos is Talk Vomit’s creative editor, as well as a therapist. She takes a lot of photos of her cats and calls her mom every day.

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