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This Artist Painted Flowers All Over Her First Solo Apartment

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This Artist Painted Flowers All Over Her First Solo Apartment

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Early in the pandemic, artist and designer Frances MacLeod moved from Brooklyn back to her homestate of Kansas. “COVID made the decision for me,” she says, “but I knew that I wanted to be closer to family in the Midwest longer term.” Take the tour, below, with photos by Rachel Loewen….

LIVING ROOM

Table: IKEA. Bentwood chairs: “vintage from my friends at Good Behavior,” similar. Rug: Rugs.com. Art: Frances MacLeod, “me!” Sofa: Interior Define, but no longer available, similar. Coffee table: All Modern. Mirror: vintage, similar. Black console: consignment from Revival Home Furnishings, similar.

On a sofa disaster: During the pandemic, furniture had ridiculous wait times. My couch was delayed and delayed and delayed. Then finally I got an email that it had been part of the largest maritime disaster in recent history. They were like, ‘Your couch is unrecoverable.’ So, I ended up with this green one that arrived within a month. It’s great, but I still think about my beautiful blue sofa on the ocean floor, maybe with an octopus sitting on it.

Clock: Frances MacLeod on Society6. Vase: Chemex. Table: IKEA. Bentwood chairs: “vintage from my friends at Good Behavior,” similar.

On living alone: Before moving to Kansas City, I’d always lived with roommates, and I was nervous about the change. But when I moved into my very own apartment, I wasn’t prepared for how happy I would feel or how delightful spending time with myself would be.

Art: Monica Garwood, Weronika Marianna, “an iPhone photo of Cuttyhunk blown up,” and a print out from Mary Cassatt Wikimedia. Spool Table: “refinished from Facebook Marketplace, there seem to be more of these out here in Kansas,” similar. Sofa: Interior Define, but no longer available, similar. Brass candlesticks: thrifted, similar.

On brass candlesticks: When I moved in, my friend-turned-boyfriend lived around the corner (now we lived together). We once looked up the exact distance on Google Maps — 800 feet! We spent so much time together during the pandemic, and then we got engaged in Big Sur on a road trip. I’d been collecting brass candlesticks and realized they’d be beautiful for our wedding. Now this collection will always remind me of that day.

Nook: not wallpaper, hand-painted. Sofa: Interior Define, but no longer available, similar. Chair: vintage and then painted with leather paint with a deglazer and sealant, “holds up great!” Cabinet: estate sale, similar. Candle sconce: Hoppe Shoppe. Orb lamp: IKEA.

On painting the nook: Even though this is a rental, I was curious to make a pattern that would cover the whole nook. I didn’t want it to feel like static wallpaper — instead, I wanted it to feel like a design made exactly for that space. So, I painted simple flowers first and then I wove in stems and leaves. It was a fun puzzle to solve. It took me a couple of weeks – with podcasts for company.

Chair: vintage and then painted with leather paint with a deglazer and sealant, “holds up great!”

On a special leather chair: I came across this chair at a higher-end thrift shop. The price was good, but the leather was distressed enough that it would need some TLC. I’d been using leather acrylic paints to customize clogs/shoes for friends (here are a couple) and this was just a bigger canvas. Going with a tonal pattern made it a little less intense, and I love how the details draw you in.

DINING ROOM

Pendant lamp: IKEA, hand painted with fabric paints. Table: High End Used Furniture on Chairish. Chairs: “$40 Facebook Marketplace find, reupholstered with fabric from Joann’s,” similar. Pink rug: “I got this at the Anthropologie outlet with my dad & uncle,” similar. Blue rug: Target, similar. Curtains: Frances MacLeod on Society6. Art: “pair of prints blown up from Geoff McFetridge art book.”

On painting off the canvas: The lampshade of the IKEA pendant was the first piece I did for the apartment. The shade came in a roll, so I could lay it flat. It made such an impact that I was inspired to paint other things in the apartment.

Shelves: IKEA. Picture ledge: “made by dad from PVC.” Pig bookends: Amazon.

On a lasting pandemic habit: Buying flowers was something that started and stuck through the pandemic. I found such joy in picking out bouquets at Trader Joe’s and putting them in vases I’d thrifted.

KITCHEN

Print: Bill Rebholz. Dish towels: Baggu and Ferm Living.

On easy entertaining: I like having friends over on weeknights, like a ‘come by after work’ dinner. I make Alison Roman’s vinegar chicken with crushed olive dressing. With chicken thighs, they go into the oven, you fix a drink for everybody, and by the time you’re finished with your drink, the chicken is ready.

On takeout: When people are visiting Kansas City, we often end up ordering local barbecue. I love Joe’s Kansas City! Make sure to order a Z-man (the pulled pork sandwich with onion rings they are known for), and prioritize the sides. Their mac and cheese and French fries are both excellent.

On a painted arch: I wanted to highlight the architectural details of this apartment, and strawberries are just the cutest fruit, so I added them to this arch between the kitchen and office. I just used craft paint from the hardware store.

OFFICE

Desk: similar IKEA base, IKEA top.Chair: IKEA. Thin black frames: Walmart. Tiger rug: Kaye Blegvad. Green Rug: IKEA.

On a workday ritual: Before I moved here, I shared a studio workspace with friends. Everyday at around 2 p.m., we’d all go get coffee together. Now I’ve kept that same coffee appointment with myself. It’s nice to get outside in the afternoon, walk somewhere, and see people.

Art: Starshaped Press Attitude Print, Kelly Thorn Moth, Crowd of people by Geoff McFetridge framed from Mohawk Quarterly, “Otherwise, framed work from friends, museum postcards, good greeting cards, etc. I have worked as a graphic designer for a long time, so I definitely have a poster affinity.”

On framing: For affordability, I use lots of Walmart frames, which have real glass. I also look for good frames at thrift stores and estate sales, too, then I’ll get a mat cut to a custom size online or at a frame store. I’ve also paid to have a couple of pieces professionally framed. It was an investment and I definitely had sticker shock. But professional framers are very kind and very good at their job. I feel strongly about using a local framer — heading to a nearby frame shop is such an easy way to be part of your community.

Artwork: “mine, adhered with 3m painters tape, baby!”

On a favorite subject: I love drawing flowers. In this apartment, I added flowers to a lampshade, pendant, nook, archway, and leather chair. I try to capture the beauty of the natural world. I’m drawn to the work of William Morris from the 19th century. Flowers have always been a decorative motif, and I like thinking about how they fit into today’s home.

GUEST BEDROOM

Bed: Soho Home, “bought on super sale.” Mattress: Amazon in a box, “I keep buying these, they’re amazing!” Bedding: “old Anthropologie.” Artwork: Ping Zhu, “pair of birds by me.” Lamps: “From estate sale with fresh shades from At Home.”

On hosting overnight guests: Having a guest room has made me very generous with my invitations! It changes everything when you don’t have to worry about rearranging the living room or pulling out an air mattress and stepping over someone in the morning.

Loveseat and stool: from estate sales. Curtains: IKEA with pinch pleat hooks from Amazon. Throw pillow: IKEA, similar.

On a controversial loveseat: I got this loveseat at an estate sale, and the print is surprisingly polarizing. I could reupholster it down the line, but I actually love the print!

PRIMARY BEDROOM

Dresser: estate sale, similar. Lamp on dresser: thrifted. Nightstand: “Originally PierOne, purchased on Facebook Marketplace,” similar. Sconces: Urban Outfitters, “from ages ago!” Bedframe: Hayneedle. Curtains hanging on bed: Vince Camuto, found at HomeGoods. Pillow: “cover is sold out from CB2, but here’s the insert,” and a similar pillow. Red piped duvet: sold out IKEA, similar. Block printed quilt: sample sale, similar.

On illustrating a motivational book: Before Covid, my artist friends and I felt like we were on upward trajectories. Then the pandemic hit and it was brutal – so many hard punches, and so many friends lost their dream jobs. We like to think we’re in control, but life is much bigger than we are. At the very end of the book I wrote is one big spread that just says ‘keep going.’ That’s the thing I’m most proud of in myself – that I’ve kept going, even with things not always looking the way that I expected or wanted them to.

Candle: Roen Marmont, “my favorite.” Nightstand: “Originally PierOne, purchased on Facebook Marketplace,” similar. Sconces: Urban Outfitters, “from ages ago!” Bedframe: Hayneedle. Curtains hanging on bed: Vince Camuto, found at HomeGoods. Pillow: “cover is sold out from CB2, but here’s the insert,” and a similar pillow. Red piped duvet: sold out IKEA, similar. Block printed quilt: sample sale, similar.

On making curtains look perfect: The curtain above our bed is evenly spaced with toilet paper tubes, thanks to Pinterest. Nipping the toilet paper tubes and sliding them on your curtain rod makes them full and even. I love a Pinterest hack (here’s my collection of good ones), and the great thing about the Internet is somebody has probably already attempted your project, taken pictures, and generously shared their experience.

Thank you so much for sharing this special home, Frances.

P.S. More home tours, including our most colorful house tour and a farmhouse built for Black joy.

(Photographs by Rachel Loewen.)



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