Shop Etsy

An Apartment With a Personal Touch

Aug 7, 2013

by Celia Catalino handmade and vintage goods

Celia Catalino is a resident of the lovely city of Oakland, California, a blogger, and the Boss Lady of Monday’s Child, an Etsy vintage shop. Her blog, Life According to Celia, chronicles her adventures in home ownership, meals she shares with her family, and what it’s like to live with a somewhat crazed two-year-old. She is fond of cheeseburgers, her well-stocked bar, and people who make her laugh. She is not so fond of raisins. She also likes to keep it real. 

After living with a baby in a 650-square-foot one bedroom apartment for over a year, my husband and I decided to put on our big-girl panties and venture into the world of home ownership. It was stressful and daunting, but after months of searching and hard work, we landed the deluxe apartment-in-the-sky of our dreams (okay, it’s really not that deluxe…but it is on the top floor). The next challenge? Furnishing the place.

We quickly realized that all the stuff that made our apartment feel cramped and cluttered was nowhere near enough to fill our new 1150 square foot space. I’m all for minimalism, but I also don’t like my home to feel cavernous and desolate. We’ve spent the last year slowly acquiring pieces we hope to hold onto for a lifetime, and Etsy has been such a valuable resource for this project. Not only can you find just about anything here, you know that these amazing finds are special and one of a kind. If you ask me, that’s all it takes to make a house a home.


[1. Mid Century Modern DAYBED from GoModRetro; 2. Contemporary Desk from UnionFurnishings; 3. Modern Floor Lamp from amplefurniture; 4. Vintage Metal Barrister Cabinet from MDQualityGoods; 5. Bullhead XV Coffee Table Bench from JosephHuber; 6. Set of 4 Bent Wood Armchairs from RevolverSeattle.]

Oh, the trials and tribulations of buying furniture! I spent all of my twenties (and even a touch of my thirties) buying cheap and disposable furniture, and all I got in return was a whole bunch of wasted money. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that it’s better to save your pennies and wait for that perfect coffee table or set of dining chairs to fall into your lap. After months of searching for a liquor cabinet, we found a vintage barrister bookcase that beautifully displays our bar selection and has become one of my most beloved pieces.


[1. Vintage Cups and Saucers from luola; 2. Large Authentic Gazelle Horns from highstreetmarket; 3. Vintage Wall Mirror from SnapshotVintage; 4. Danish Modern Candlestick from GallivantingGirls; 5. Accordion Rack from littleveggievintage; 6. Vintage Landscape Painting from littlebyrdvintage; 7. Vintage Woven Basket from bonnbonn; 8. Vintage Stube Kitchen Scale from BottegaVintageMaison.]

Speaking of vintage, those older gems can be such a great addition. If you have an interior space that is looking a little too catalogue-y, the best remedy is to add a few vintage pieces. Vintage is also an excellent route to take if you’re looking into accumulating and displaying a collection. The design characteristics and attention to detail in the common items of times past are unbeatable. Whether it be candlesticks or kitchen scales, they just don’t make them like they used to.


[1. Large Moroccan Rug from MoroccanTribal; 2. Handmade Leather Pouf by Leatherfinework; 3. Set of 3 Handprinted Tea Towels by RoomforEmptiness; 4. Kantha Quilt from Roopantaran; 5. Lines Pillow by mexchic; 6. California Poems Scarf by leahgoren.]

Textiles tie everything together in any home. Having gone through two horrible sofas, we knew it was time to commit to a real deal piece. So we ordered a custom navy leather sectional, and as sexy as that may sound, when the delivery guys finally hoisted it up over our balcony and into our living room (long story), it looked a touch uninviting. I panicked, thinking that we had made a very expensive, very big mistake. I went on a manhunt for some killer accent pillows and throws and was blown away by what a huge difference they made. Our sectional went gone from cold and dismal to warm and cozy in the blink of an eye. And once we added an area rug? Forget about it!


[1. Hanging Air Plant Cradle from mudpuppy; 2. Brass Himmeli Wall Planter by HRUSKAA; 3. Staghorn Fern from ConceptualNature; 4. Copper Grande Balle Hanging Planter from PlantworksPDX; 5. Cotton Rope Plant Hanger by indieandarrow; 6. Handmade Concrete Gold Modern Planter by dachshundinthedesert; 7. Obelisk Terrarium by megamyers; 8. Air Plant Grab Bag from Eucca.]

Displaying plants is one of my favorite design tricks. Not only do they work with any and all styles of home decor, but they can also add so much life to your space. In fact, when I have a tabletop or corner that needs something but I just can’t seem to figure out what, I always add some sort of plant or terrarium. It does the trick every single time.

All in all, furnishing a new home can be a ton of effort, but it’s a fun job nonetheless. Take your time finding items that are meaningful and will personalize your place. And in the words of a very wise friend of mine, “Your home is never done…whether there’s a doorknob that needs replacing or you’re in the market for a new tea towel to hang in your kitchen, you’ll always be working for a better space.”

Browse Home & Living on Etsy

1 Featured Comment

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 8 years ago Featured

    Great suggestions. I agree with Celia. My motto for home decorating has become "less stuff, better stuff." I don't want to waste time and money cluttering up my space with cheap junk that will only last a few years, or stuff I acquire just for the sake of filling space. I want to be thoughtful, re-use what's there by buying vintage, and invest in solid pieces that mean something to me, will last for years to come, and make my apartment feel like my very own special space.


  • admspeicher

    Moira Neilson from PALEOLOCHIC said 8 years ago

    Great finds! I love the style and the combination of textures!


    VINTAGE NOW from ESTATENOW said 8 years ago

    Gorgeous home fixtures...Love them..

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 8 years ago

    Love these choices!!!

  • FluffyFlowers

    FluffyFlowers from FluffyFlowers said 8 years ago

    House buying is so nerve wracking! But the decorating is such frustrating fun :)

  • reginamiles1

    Regina from ChainAndCluster said 8 years ago

    Great article, thanks for sharing! I'm inspired by the idea of a plant cradle or terrarium...hmm... :)

  • handmadebycecilia

    Cecilia Escobar from HandmadebyCecilia said 8 years ago

    I think plants add so much to any living space. I have plenty around our house that sometimes my girls say they are coming to a "jungle." I like the little terrarium! Your advices are right on the spot. It's true to fill your living space with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, everything to an equilibrium. Thank you.

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 8 years ago

    “For the two of us, home isn't a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” ― Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss

  • hejjuni

    Juni from HejJuni said 8 years ago

    wonderful picks!

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 8 years ago

    Cool items!

  • MrsGingerandWasabi

    Marta DQ from tribomo said 8 years ago

    Lovely finds! I agree, those vintage items can make a huge difference!

  • agebo

    Ann Cosgrove from acbcDesign said 8 years ago

    Fun story and fab decor picks! When I moved out of my apartment into our home, I had so much empty space as we filled it up with new finds. It's a great journey to go through, as you decorate that grown up place!

  • CabochonCorner

    Emily H from CabochonCorner said 8 years ago

    Nice finds!

  • BirdEnergy

    Genise Park from GeniseParkArts said 8 years ago

    I love plants and home wouldn't be home without them!

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 8 years ago Featured

    Great suggestions. I agree with Celia. My motto for home decorating has become "less stuff, better stuff." I don't want to waste time and money cluttering up my space with cheap junk that will only last a few years, or stuff I acquire just for the sake of filling space. I want to be thoughtful, re-use what's there by buying vintage, and invest in solid pieces that mean something to me, will last for years to come, and make my apartment feel like my very own special space.

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 8 years ago

    Mmmm... Love the decor. Great vintage, textiles and plants. Very homey!

  • recycledwares

    Nerrissa W from RecycledWares said 8 years ago

    Lovely selections. Just my style. I love all the warm colors and wood.

  • aospopup

    Adrienne Odom from aos9popup said 8 years ago

    I do think less is more when furnishing your house...can't say the same for my studio though, all my collections are stashed in my workspace! Love the vintage touches!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 8 years ago

    Awesome selection!

  • bgrkid64

    Arthur and Michelle Gonzalez from AMGCraftsandPhotos said 8 years ago

    Decorating - the never ending adventure.

  • thelittlemarket

    Debbie from thelittlemarket said 8 years ago


  • JoyceAlice2

    JoyceAlice from JoyceAlice2 said 8 years ago

    Do you remember Mole's underground home in the "Wind in the Willows"? I had to go look it up after reading this article --- here is a snippet --- "how this was planned, and how that was thought out, and how this was got through a windfall from an aunt, and that was a wonderful find and a bargain, and this other thing was bought out of laborious savings and a certain amount of "going without". I'm getting the next silver gazing ball I find, and it's going to go in the center of the rose bed just outside my studio window....

  • bedouin

    Nicole from KarmaCodeOne said 8 years ago

    warm, natural and inviting ~ home is surely where the heart is.

  • NirvanaRoad

    Lisa from NirvanaRoad said 8 years ago

    Less is more and quality is paramount. I love my neighborhood thrift stores... but have to stop and think if I really, really need it before I pull my wallet out. Nice article. Oakland is becoming a cool hip place.

  • sarahmoon503

    Sarah from Birchmoonrocksfibers said 8 years ago

    Love it! The textile finds are totally great, as well as the wood furniture. Your tone is funny-in a good way- I enjoyed reading you article! thanks!

  • debvasbinder

    Deb Vasbinder from BabyCuteBaby said 8 years ago

    Great and enjoyable article - Thanks for sharing!

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 8 years ago

    Inspiring style, beautiful.

  • funkomavintage

    Tressie from funkomavintage said 8 years ago

    Great picks! with a 70s bohemian California vibe......finding wonderful vintage around the Bay Area is a delight and not a chore at all......and ya know...being young, and buying a house in California.....makes you a lucky lucky girl!

  • RenataandJonathan

    Renata and Jonathan from RenataandJonathan said 8 years ago

    Great story !

  • normaharrell

    Norma from CultOfChiffon said 8 years ago

    I'm from Oakland myself, so I know that home ownership in the Bay Area is no small feat...hearty Congratulations!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 8 years ago

    Some very nice selections, but please can we have a bit less mid century modern? "On trend" just means what everyone else is buying & who wants their home to look like everyone else's?

  • isewcute

    June from isewcute said 8 years ago

    It's so much fun to take a blank canvas of an apartment & make it your own! Lovely finds!

  • MissingTagVintage

    Caroline from MissingTagVintage said 8 years ago

    Exactly the style I'm going for in my place and decor I look for to add in my vintage shop. Beautiful finds!

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 8 years ago

    I love the greens!

  • Fiume

    Erin O'Rourke from Aruguletta said 8 years ago

    Very nice how this is broken down into layers of design elements. It can be very daunting to look at a blank space and not know where to begin.

  • jizbasusan

    Susan Jizba from TheWeaverOfWords said 8 years ago

    I love the idea of carefully choosing quality furniture that you love and that will last. I especially love wood which ages so gracefully. Worn wood is so incredibly lovely to me. I agree about the plants too, there’s something about having a living thing in a room that humanizes the space and makes the room “come alive” so to speak.

  • msfish

    lauren said 8 years ago

    celia's eye for detail and ability to put together a gracious (and graceful) home is nothing short of miraculous, but it's her ruthlessness as a street fighter that really endears her to me. i feel weirdly validated every time she likes something i add to pinterest, and grateful that i've never had to face her in thunderdome.

  • DarburyCottage

    Rosemary Wascher from DarburyCottage said 8 years ago

    I love that rusty steel and glass cabinet. I am all way's happy to here that people got there dream home.. much luck to you.

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 8 years ago

    Love staghorn ferns, they are so unique! Thanks for the post!!

  • piccadillypastimes

    Ginger and Tim from PiccadillyPastimes said 8 years ago

    Great article!! Beautiful picks. I love solid vintage pieces that will last - love them even more if they are a family piece that has been handed down - adding sentimental value. And love thrift stores and unique finds. Also love layering the decor - and creating a cozy space - so much better than the "perfect" sterile cookie-cutter look : )

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    kathy johnson from ShoeClipsOnly said 8 years ago

    Loved this article! Great advice and lovely pics!

  • GoddessOfJewelry

    GoddessOfJewelry from GoddessOfJewelry said 8 years ago

    I wish I knew then, what I know now... Our first "expensive" piece of furniture gave me serious sticker shock, but it is a completely one of a kind piece made from a 200-year old Northern Ontario Barn. The notion is completely romantic, touches my "Eco" side, and I know we'll have it forever. Buying these fantastic pieces takes a while, but now that we have a vision for our home, I am okay with buying things more slowly because I know I am buying quality pieces. And I totally hear you on the plants. They are slowly taking over in our home :)

  • OttavaDesigns

    Ellen from OttavaDesigns said 8 years ago

    What a nice article! I need more plants...

  • BlueSquiggle

    Monique Flannagan from BlueSquiggle said 8 years ago

    I love seeing more functional wares on Etsy! Thanks for the article!

  • richdon1

    Rich and Dona from TheCottageMouse said 8 years ago

    I have a few wooden Barrister book cases in excellent condition. We love them. Great finds.

  • fancy4u

    fancy4u from BrushAndFeather said 8 years ago

    really enjoyed reading, great finds!

  • Powerofflower

    Lorena Balea-Raitz from LorenasInkDesigns said 8 years ago

    Gorgeous finds :)

  • cosmiksouls

    joan kelly from cosmiksouls said 8 years ago

    SWEET !!!

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 8 years ago

    It's been quite some years now since we were filling an empty house, and it's amazing how very full it gets as years pass, after a couple of kids and a collection of pets and a couple of home businesses! We find the sofas wear out, but we have inherited a lot of very nice and diverse types of solid furniture, from the early 1900s to mid century, from family and friends, and they are the bones of the decor. A scattering of family antiques, art & crafts, my own paintings, and (dare I admit) some inexpensive lamps and stuff from Target or wherever. Well, sometimes there isn't time to thoughtfully select a , 'cause you need a lamp now! and perhaps there's no money for anything wonderful. As for houseplants...the cats eat them, so we enjoy plants through the windows. I enjoyed the post! Brings back memories of just starting out. Homes evolve, as do our lives.

  • myword38

    angie blunk from the5thelementshop said 8 years ago

    Love it

  • emily8150

    emily from emilyemilyjewelry said 8 years ago

    nice sharing and pictures ! and feel home is not the copy the others pictures or ideas and also not the accumulations of the furniture , i think it is the Embody personal style, like our colothes ..., if we find carfully in our heart , can know we like which kind of stlye and which is comfortble for us , which is let our eyes keep shinning and let our soul get rest . and also if i really care and use intention , can do the home decor is better , also agree with Celia , textiles is effective decor , never think it will be too much . and also plant , soe coner or dest if can put small or suitable plant , it will improve the feeling and quality .

  • liddysopretty

    liddy sopretty from liddysopretty said 8 years ago

    Wow! Love everything here!

  • uswatsons

    Sylvie Liv from SylvieLiv said 8 years ago

    I love all. of this!

  • LetterKayDesigns

    LetterKayDesigns from LetterKayDesigns said 8 years ago

    Love this!!

  • MustLuvVintage

    Cassie from FoundYesterdaygoods said 8 years ago

    Great picks...Love it all! I just spent hours reading Celia's blog and I am loving it! She has a fantastic sense of humor and honesty about parenting and life...a new favorite!

  • lowelowejewelry

    Lowe Jewelry from lowelowejewelry said 8 years ago

    Wonderful pics :)

  • MagpieWorkshop

    Jeanne Berg from MagpieWorkshop said 8 years ago

    Great ideas but with two young sons I'm not investing in any pieces. Indoor football matches, light sabre battles and the usual rough and tumble all take a toll :)

  • BozenaWojtaszek

    Bozena Wojtaszek from BozenaWojtaszek said 8 years ago

    Ok, with some few more apartments' experience there's one pearl of wisdom from me - no matter how empty it seems at the beginning, it's always cluttered at the end. And it's not a matter of furniture - it's just stuff :)

  • FulBelSic

    Benedetta Maxia from FulBelSic said 8 years ago

    Great suggestions! Many of them in my wishlist!

  • YearsAfter

    Sharon from YearsAfter said 8 years ago

    Great ideas and fabulous furniture! Love your shop too!

  • candicebeaty1

    Candice Beaty from CLASSYTHREADSBYCB said 8 years ago

    This looks great. What a show case. Candy

  • TheQueenOfTheNight

    Katarzyna Król from theKROL said 8 years ago

    Brilliant article! I love mini-vivarium with tillandsia in the 7th photo :)

  • lynnsteeves

    Lynn Steeves from VerticalFlora said 8 years ago

    No matter the size, you must make your space your own! Great article.

  • jmyerscho

    Jacqueline Myers-Cho from TheHappyMonsters said 8 years ago

    art always adds that special personal touch.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 8 years ago

    Great article! Wonderful ideas!

  • debragalbo

    Debra Galbo from HowCuteAreYou said 8 years ago

    Great look. I usually don't equate mid-century with a cozy look but, you made it work with your accessory choices. Looks quite homey!

  • candlesbynature

    candlesbynature from candlesbynature said 8 years ago

    So many great tips, thank you! We are moving into a new apartment next month, which is twice the size of our current place so this advice will certainly come in handy! :)

  • AmyMeredithHutson

    Amy Meredith Hutson said 8 years ago

    Love the decor and the fact that they slowly collected pieces instead of buying furniture all at once just to fill the space (which would be impulsive and they'd probably regret it, speaking from experience)! Thanks for the tips and enjoy your new place :) Amy Meredith Hutson

  • BeachglassDesign

    Blackberry Bungalow from BlackberryBungalow said 8 years ago

    Creating an interesting home reflective of your personal style requires time, patience and a keen eye. The clean lines of the mid century pieces are timeless and soulful. Current, fresh and real. Nice work Celia.

  • thesuperchick10

    Melissa Moore from craftykittycrochet said 8 years ago

    Gorgeous!! And so true about disposable furniture. It can be good for an upcycle project, but not very sturdy! I love the touch of bright textiles in the room full of neutrals. Great job! Thanks for the post!

  • viceart

    kervens maxime from vicecreations said 8 years ago

    soo cool

  • joannetownsend

    Joanne from HeavenSpunCreations said 8 years ago

    I also think it is really important to wait for that right piece to put into your home. Buying quality instead of filling up your home with items that will have to be replaced quickly is great advice. Thanks for the great article.

  • ElishaMarie

    Elisha Marie from ElishaMarie said 8 years ago

    I love everything!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 8 years ago

    Great picks!

  • SaMTRoN666

    Nico Peralta from SkullDezign said 8 years ago

    I love the gazelle horns!

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage from MetroRetroVintage said 8 years ago

    I love the sentiments reflected in this article (and yes, a lot of us did the same -- spent our money on 'disposable' furniture since we wanted to buy everything 'new' at the time, lol). A bit of vintage sure does go a long way, and the quality mid-century pieces shown are absolutely wonderful and have become true classics.

  • takemebad

    Priyanka Badlani from TakeMeBad said 8 years ago

    this makes me want to get my own apartment in nyc and just go crazy decorating! i love everything

  • wallSpells

    Elise McClelland from wallSpells said 8 years ago

    flower tooth ♥ cute.

  • emberair

    emberair from EmberandAir said 8 years ago

    Great finds! Love that couch at the beginning!

  • Leannamoonbody

    Catherine Fergerson from KingsfieldInn said 8 years ago

    Lovely items

  • paintingjoy

    Viktoriya Melnikova from ARTbyViktoriya said 8 years ago

    super fun!!!!!!

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique said 8 years ago

    I ask myself three thing when making a purchase for my place; one, is is practical? Is it functional? And last, is is beautiful? I think it's important to surround yourself with objects that resonate with you, things that will transform your house into your home.

  • cinderandhoney

    Caitlin Benson from cinderandhoney said 8 years ago

    Love everything about this.

  • hodderdesigns

    Samantha Hodder from hodderdesigns said 8 years ago

    This makes me want to redecorate! So many gorgeous items on one page!!

  • thetherapistcandles

    thetherapistcandles from TheTherapistCandles said 7 years ago

    great collection to spruce up any interior

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 6 years ago

    lovely selection!

  • artMorocco

    Jamal Sem from ArtMorocco said 5 years ago

    This is a perfectly written article. I do like the effort of adding the shops where the items are available. I did like the Moroccan leather pouf with the Berber area rug.

  • nowvintage

    Bobbie from nowvintage said 5 years ago

    Fantastic!!! Love your taste! :)

Sign in to add your own