This post has been in my drafts probably since June—but every time I went to write it, I got sucked into my Dropbox archives looking at old pictures and remembering good times. I’ve always loved taking pictures when I am together with family and friends, and am so glad I have many of our good times documented for posterity. ANYWAY, a few months ago I saw this post on Oh Joy! and loved reading it so much that I wanted to write my own version. And, I thought now would the perfect time to publish this post since I just signed a lease on a new apartment in Arlington and am moving out of Dupont Circle next month—so naturally, I’ve been really nostalgic about my time here and all the homes I’ve loved before.
Of all the apartments I’ve lived in as an adult, I think this one is my favorite; it just feels like home. I also have a really soft spot in my heart for the first apartment I moved to after college graduation. I stayed their for three years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere besides my childhood home, so it was filled with so many great memories and those fun times 22-25 year olds have as their getting their adult sea legs. Had COVID-19 not happened, I probably would have stayed here for at least another year—but things change and I know I’ll be happier with more space, which I can get for cheaper across the Potomac. I loved my time in Arlington before and am excited to be moving back—but so, so glad I experienced living in downtown DC, too.
So let me welcome you into my home, past and present—I even dug up some photos of my college bedrooms for entertainment value. (Almost 100 percent positive I documented those homes with my trusty Canon point-and-shoot. It’s amazing how the cameras on our iPhones are better than the digital cameras we used to carry around in plastic baggies at frat parties, but I digress.) Come on in!
MY FIRST YEAR DORM / 2009-2010
Recently on TikTok, I’ve been seeing all these dorm room glow up videos where girls coordinate and decorate their room to the nines. I’m glad those videos didn’t exist when I was packing up for my first year of college because I probably would have put my anxiety through the roof! My first year roommate and I color coordinated our things somewhat—we went with a lot of blue and greens—and took a trip to IKEA together before school started to get some decorations for our room. But, at the end of the day, it was a pretty standard dorm room with two beds, two desks, and two armoires. I hung a lot of pictures of friends from high school and family in my room and when I look at these pictures now, I am overwhelmed by all the clutter.
I went to UVA and lived in a dorm called Hereford, which if you’re familiar, is fucking far away from central Grounds, hah! I was definitely a little disappointed when that was my assignment, but it’s all how you play the cards you’re dealt. I had some great hallmates, my best friend from high school lived upstairs, and we were really close to a great dining hall. It all worked out in the end, but if you lived in Old Dorms, let’s just say I am a little jealous.
MY SECOND YEAR APARTMENT / 2010-2011
Second year of college, five of my hallmates from first year and I got an on-campus apartment. (If you went to UVA, we lived in Lambeth!) The location was amazing, the apartment, not so much. It was old—think Brady Brunch green countertops and really dated furniture. however, our table was the perfect size for beer pong, so at least there’s that. They renovated it the summer after we moved out—classic—so anyone heading to Lambeth nowadays has a much more modern housing experience.
However, despite the dated accommodations, my year in Lambeth was one of the best years of my life. My roommates and I just had so much fun. We had all found our footing in college, but weren’t too deep enough in our majors or extracurriculars, so things didn’t feel so serious. We used to go to Wendy’s to get Frosty’s on Friday nights when we would stay in, we’d always get Kroger sheet cakes to celebrate each other’s birthdays with, we went all out when decorating for Christmas, we woke up at the crack of dawn to watch Will and Kate get married, and one of our friends even bought us a pet fish. It literally felt like every day there was a party.
We had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and so we each shared a room with one other person. I basically re-used most of my room decor from first year in that space, but I did add my vintage railroad posters, which I absolutely loved at the time (and still have a soft spot in my heart for!).
MY THIRD YEAR SPENT IN THE SK HOUSE / 2011-2012
I moved into the Sigma Kappa house for my third year, and I consider myself extremely lucky because I scored my own room in a house of 14 girls. Our house was so beautiful—it was a historic home built in the early 1900s and our House Corps Board kept it looking like the inside of a Pottery Barn. It was also in a great location just a short walk from frats, bars, and classes. Living in the sorority house had a lot of pros—it was the year we turned 21 so there was always something to celebrate, there was always someone around to do something with or watch TV with, and we had dinner catered every weeknight and an omelette man there every Friday morning, which was the perfect hangover cure. But there were definitely some cons, too—we had a lot of personalities our year in the house and ran into some pretty big drama early on in the year, which I think set the tone and got us off on the wrong foot. Rush was also particularly challenging that year since everyone is in your space all the time—but in the grand scheme of things, it really was just a blip in time. That all being said, living in the sorority house is something I am so glad I did, and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do so!
I had the cutest room in the corner of the house—it was spacious, had a big closet, and the house furniture was really nice. However, there was one major drawback that my dad aptly named, “the pain in the ass piece of glass,” also known as a sunlight. Y’all, I am all for sunlights. They are great! But whoever thought to put a sunlight in a bedroom was not thinking. But because I have an awesome dad, he had a custom blind made and helped me install it over the sunlight so that I could not wake up with the sun if I so chose. A few years ago when I went back to UVA for my five-year reunion, we stopped by the SK house and I was so pleased to see that blind was still up and helping out all the occupants of that room that came after me.
MY FOURTH YEAR APARTMENT / 2012-2013
For fourth year, I moved into an off-campus apartment with three of my best friends, all of whom I still am close with today! We were so excited to spend our last year at school just a block off UVA’s Corner where all the bars were, and let’s just say, I took full advantage of our prime location.
My room in this apartment was the first one in college that wasn’t furnished, so in addition to buying a new bed and comforter, I also bought a desk, nightstand, and dresser. Black furniture is so not my style now, but I grew up with white furniture in my bedroom and at the time, I just wanted something different. I found that black secretary desk online and was so excited about it, and picked up the black dresser and nightstand at Target, both of which served me well over the years. I also picked up a set of Zebra chairs at Kirkland’s one day on a whim with my mom that I absolutely loved, and had until recently. I expanded my travel poster collection and still had a penchant for so. many. photos. (I don’t think I am alone in this though, so that does make my feel better, hah!) My ~favorite~ decor choice in this room, though, is that I decided to dedicate the top shelf of my built-ins to my bottom-shelf liquor. Oh, college.
In this apartment, we each had our own room and shared a bathroom with one other person. We had a large common room and kitchen and a balcony off the back. We threw a lot of pregames, and I think our floor had some residual stickiness to it all year. Since it was our fourth year of college, we also made ourselves an “Operation Finish Line” checklist, inspired by Rory and Paris in Gilmore Girls that had everything from getting the autograph of our favorite local newscaster to wine tasting at the most popular Charlottesville vineyard, Pippin Hill. You can see a glimpse of it in the photo above that my family snapped graduation weekend with my first friend I ever met at college, Sofia, who lived on my first year hall and in Lambeth with me.
MY FIRST ADULT APARTMENT / 2013-2016
After college, I moved home for three months—and I think every member of my family was stoked when I moved out. I was just at a place where I was really craving independence and wanted to go out all the time like I did in college, and that lifestyle just did not jive with where everyone else was at the time. Luckily, I didn’t move that far from Fairfax and found a place just down the road at the Meridian at Courthouse—aka UVA Dorms North. A friend from college g-chatted me one day at work and told me her roommate was moving out and she would love for me to move in. She lived in the sunroom and I took the true bedroom that had a small balcony off of it and a huge walk-in closet. We had a great rooftop, courtyard, gym, and pool—the latter of which I didn’t use nearly enough.
After a year, my initial roommate moved in with her boyfriend and a friend from high school moved in. We were roommates for three years—two of which we spent in this apartment. While I don’t have as many pictures of this apartment as some, as I said earlier, this apartment has such a special place in my heart. I loved decorating this place and really started to find my style as an adult, and started to mix more adult things in with my college pieces—I reframed my train posters, got a headboard, swapped out my colorful bedding for a white duvet, and really toned down the number of pictures I had around to just a few tasteful frames ;). I also did a ton of growing up there, have so many good memories of wine nights and pregames with friends there, and started A Touch of Teal while living there! What a special place.
My rent at the time was $1,010, which back then was definitely a stretch some months—but now, I’d pay to have that kind of rent again. One day…
MY SECOND STINT AT THE MERIDIAN / 2016-2017
After two years of living together, my roommate was really craving a true bedroom instead of the sunroom, so we decided to look for a larger place where every resident could have their own room with a true bedroom door. We loved living at the Meridian, so when we found a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment that was renovated and still in the complex, it was a no-brainer. My rent went up to $1,350, but my salary had also risen enough by then to make the leap in rent. The apartment itself was gorgeous—hardwood floors, brand new kitchen cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and berber carpet in the bedrooms. (Our initial Meridian apartment wasn’t renovated—it was all carpet except for linoleum in the kitchen, dated cabinets, and white appliances that were almost as old as I was. But it was in a great location in a wonderful building that we could afford!) I wish I had thought to take more pictures of it—but the vignettes above give you a good sense of how it was decorated.
I liked our second apartment at the Meridian enough, but since we only stayed for a year, it never really felt as much like home as the first unit. It also had a sunroom off the living room that we never really did anything with besides hang our laundry to dry or store random things in, so it always felt a little unfinished and like we were wasting a lot of space. While my roommate and I got along great and still remain friends to this day, I was really starting to crave a place of my own. Luckily for me, she wanted to move in with her boyfriend, so it was a very amicable parting of ways since we were both moving onto exciting new chapters.
LIVING ALONE FOR THE FIRST TIME / 2017-2018
If you’ve been reading along for a while, you’ll remember my first solo apartment in Arlington—which you can see a full tour of here, here, and here. I was so excited to live alone and have a place that was completely mine to decorate and live in. I have absolutely no regrets about moving to this apartment—and at the time, it was definitely the place that offered the most bang for my buck: it was spacious, within walking distance of work, and had a beautiful gym and pool. I paid $1,800 a month (which was just a little more than the total cost of the rent was in my first apartment out of school).
That being said, I think I learned a lot of great lessons about what to look for when shopping for an apartment. For one, the layout of this unit was so weird. It was tucked into a corner of the building where two hallways met, so it didn’t get much natural light. It also was really big—I think around 850 square feet—and because of the way it was laid out, I always struggled filling the space, nor did I need that much space for one person. I had my eye on a different unit, but when I went to tour, I was assigned to the building’s intern who told me I couldn’t get the unit I wanted unless I wanted to move in earlier. (I think they didn’t want it to sit vacant for too long.) If that happened to me now, I would have pushed back or asked to speak to the manager, and if that didn’t work, I would have either hedged my bets or kept looking for something that fit my needs. And while the building was in walking distance to work, it was much farther away from the Arlington restaurant scene and Metro compared to my first two apartments, so I felt really far away. Because of the location, the demographics also skewed a bit older.
So while I thought I would be really happy there when I moved in, I just knew I could find a living situation that fit my lifestyle a little bit better, and made the decision to leave when my lease was up. I’m really glad I didn’t stick it out another year or two because it would have been the easy thing to do—moving is a b*tch! Another big factor was at the time, I was really unhappy and unmotivated at work, and I was looking for a positive change in my life. Since I hadn’t landed a new job yet, moving to somewhere new that was closer to the action was a factor I was in complete control of—and Monica launched a highly effective campaign to convince me to move to DC and into the apartment building next door to her.
MY DUPONT CIRCLE STUDIO / 2018-2020
And that move brings us to where I live today, my Dupont Circle Apartment. Moving into my current place was a bit rocky—the service elevator at my old building broke that morning I was supposed to move, so my movers had to take everything down a long hallway, to the regular elevator, down another long hallway, and then out a side door. Luckily, they got all my stuff out before it started pouring down rain, but it added about an extra two hours of time. Once we got to this building, it was smooth sailing and has been ever since.
Dupont has been such a great neighborhood to explore, and such a great jumping off point to explore many other neighborhoods in the city. The building I live in is beautiful, and I’ve gotten to know my doormen over the years who are equally as wonderful. (My morning doorman, Neville, used to tell me to have a great day on my way out the door to work and would always remind me to bring an umbrella if I had forgotten one and it looked like rain. I’ve missed his daily greeting while we’ve been working from home so much!) I also love this unit—I was so picky about the layout this go-around, taking a lesson from my previous experience, and it really paid off. My furniture and artwork all just fits in here so nicely. I love that this space is small and cozy; it is so much more welcoming and feels much more safe than the cavernous unit I lived in before. Like I said at the start of this post, had COVID-19 not happened, I probably would have stayed longer, but I’m looking forward to right-sizing my space in Arlington, being closer to family and work (for when we do go back!), and for a new canvas to decorate.
This was such a fun post to write, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved pulling it together. Here’s to the many wonderful, cozy, memorable, loving homes ahead! x
Katie, I absolutely loved this post! You inspired me to write my own version down the line. Right now, I’m in a tiny studio in NW DC, but I’m really looking forward to growing into my future spaces ☺️
Aw yay!! I am so glad you loved this post — I had the best time writing it. It’s so fun to think of all the future homes that await us, too!
Loved this post and am so glad you made this most recent place yours! Told ya the hype was real 😉 Can’t wait to see what you do with the next one (and more space!)
Thank you so much! Thanks for convincing me to be your neighbor! x