The challenge: Designer and artist Jeralyn Mohr recently moved from a shared rental to a small efficiency apartment on the third floor of a turn-of-the-century house in St. Paul. Originally a maid's quarters, it was more recently inhabited by the homeowners' teenage daughter. The space had no kitchen and several odd nooks and crannies. "I thought it had a ton of potential," said Mohr, who had envisioned a similar space while creating a pinboard for her next home. "I could design it and make it more usable for the next person." She shared her ideas with her landlords, who were supportive.
The designer: Jeralyn Mohr, Full Nest, 651-442-5596, ArtistMn.com.
The goal: Mohr, who had never lived alone, wanted to create a refuge where she could focus on her artwork. "I was determined to have a bubble and to think about myself, my art, and not being so distracted," she said. "That was one of my big goals." (She makes wearable art around the theme of trauma and resilience, Inner Space, that she sells at trunk shows and at ArtistMn on Instagram.)
The purge: Mohr had to pare down her belongings before moving into the efficiency. "The positive side of moving is you have to reassess what you own," she said. "It's nice to lighten the load. Boxes are dead weight."
Fresh canvas: Before Mohr's makeover, the apartment walls were painted blue, and the wood floor was painted cement gray. "I whitewashed everything," said Mohr. "Painting a floor white is really fun to do. It feels more expansive — like a lightbox for making artwork."
Space planning: Mohr made the most of the apartment's nooks and crannies. One nook with a window was just wide enough for a full-size bed. She painted the alcove gray to set it off, then used a box spring and mattress, no frame, to lower the bed's profile so it doesn't block the window and allows more sunlight into the apartment. In lieu of a headboard, she hung a feather juju above the bed. "It looks like a headboard, but a headboard would have covered the window," she said. "The juju gave it gravity and anchored the bed." Two small crannies at the top of the stairs became a reading nook and a spot for storing boots and shoes, with a bench and a basket, to free up space in her small closet. Another small nook was unfinished and cold in winter. Mohr stores her art supplies there. "I've made them usable," she said of the small spaces.
Creating a kitchenette: The apartment's bathroom was L-shaped, with empty space, which Mohr converted into a small kitchenette. She used a stencil to paint a "backsplash" that looks like tile. A dresser serves as a pantry and prep top. Next to it she stacked a mini-fridge and toaster oven.
Bath improv: In the small bathroom, the claw foot tub with shower was next to an angled wall. "It was not a perfect situation for shower curtains," Mohr said. Using tension rods from Ikea, she draped the shower curtain to the side so it wouldn't block the space, then tied the curtain back with vintage ball chain. "It's pretty dramatic," she said. A painted ladder now serves as a towel rack for patterned Turkish towels that can be used in the kitchen or the bath.
Edited decor: To furnish her petite living space, Mohr ordered a two-arm chaise, covered in deep green faux mohair, to serve as her sofa. A black-painted vanity that came with the apartment does double duty as vanity and desk. "I just changed the knobs," she said. "They were '80s gold and shiny, so I painted them with nail polish" — white, antique gold and a clear coat, creating a richer metallic finish. An artist friend, Joe Lindberg, crafted her a live-edge table with metal legs. "That made the room," she said. She found a cowhide rug on eBay, and angled it to make the room look bigger. A Parsons stool with an upholstered seat cushion was painted white, cushion and all. "It feels like leather. I've been painting fabric for years," Mohr said. She kept her minimal artwork neutral-hued, including a painting of the moon, one of her own creations.
The result: Mohr loves her new home, which has sparked her artistic output as she had hoped. "This place is special," she said. "It's light and bright and very curated — everything in it is almost soulful. "I've been so productive, my friends joke about it."