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McElwain loved the idea of using milk crates as storage — something she'd seen in a workshop. She found the crates during a visit to the Ventura Flea Market, and her boyfriend reinforced them with reclaimed wood and installed them on the wall using cleats. Vintage-inspired accessories complete the look.
Storage is always a challenge in this small apartment, so McElwain keeps most of her possessions on display. A wire framed shelving unit holds shoes and linens in the bedroom.
Wire organizer: Urban Outfitters
Since this was her first time decorating her own space, McElwain soon found out that it's not easy to make a space beautiful and functional. Although she browsed online for inspiration, it was hard to find a look that felt livable. "For my small apartment everything needs its place, or else the home feels cluttered and thoughtless," she says.
Couch, pendant: Urban Outfitters; coffee table: flea market; pillows: eBay
Having such a handy and artistic boyfriend is helpful too. McElwain recruited him to design and build these simple shower shelves.
Always a photographer — whether on the job or not — McElwain has a little Polaroid camera that she takes out from time to time when friends get together. Putting her favorites on the fridge helps her keep loved ones near.