We interviewed Interior designer and photographer, Cait Pappas, on everything from decorating rooms to apartment horror stories. Cait is the owner of Nest Out West which is a home-styling and photography company that she and her husband run out of Denver, CO. They do everything from E-styling, all the way to actually buying furniture for clients, depending on the customer’s preference and budget. Check out Nest Out West to spruce up your living spaces!

If you’re looking to rent an apartment, and use these tips and tricks, reach out to AptAmigo. We’ll help find your dream place in no time, so you can get to the fun part. If you’re already looking around, check out our touring checklist to help narrow down your options. Then, once you’re all settled in we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step on how to unpack in one day!

What was a small transformation that you did to your apartment/house that ended up making a big difference?

“I’ll share two things, but they’re both from our first house, which you can find if you scroll down past March 2019 in my IG feed.

1) We painted the main wall in our living room black (pictured below). It was so bold and made such a huge difference in the best possible way. People always say, ‘Dark colors close the room in,’ but I completely disagree. Sometimes, and in this case, one black wall gives the effect of a void where one would expect to see a wall. It actually made the small living room feel so much bigger! You can actually see this change if you tap through the “Before and After” highlight on my IG profile.

2) The other small change that made a big impact was installing four art ledges on the wall at the top of our stair landing, and then filling it—floor to ceiling—with framed prints and photos of varying sizes. If you decide to do this, my advice would be to stick to a limited number of colors and be strict with yourself about adhering to that color scheme. For example, our frames were white, wood (stick to one shade of wood), black, and gold. The art inside was white, black, and gold/mustard yellow.”

The living room transformation:

What’s one item you love talking about/that other people always talk about in your house?

“Our dining table! My husband built it based off a pin I saw on Pinterest where the same table cost $1,700 in some Scandinavian store. Ours cost around $400 to build, and people are always asking me on Instagram where I got it!”

What is the vibe of your apartment or house?

“”Under construction.” We purchased our current home in March of this year (2019), and it was straight out of 1999. We immediately began working on some of the larger transformations, such as replacing all of the flooring (carpet and skinny yellow hardwoods) with a gray-washed, wide-plank oak hardwood (side note: always run your hardwoods in line with the direction of the longest space).

We hired a painter to professionally paint our kitchen cabinets green (they were also yellowy, glossy oak) and all of the khaki walls white. We also demoed our fireplace and rebuilt one that was much more sleek and modern. With all that said, I’m still in the midst of making decorating decisions, and our budget has taken a big hit, so we’re moving slowly. I’d say, though, that we’re leaning in the direction of a modern-Scandi-farmhouse vibe, with a touch of MCM and glam. You’ll have to see it (@nest.out.west on Instagram) and decide for yourself what you’d call this vibe ;)“

Design or decorating tips?

“Decorate according to the scale of your home. Always use blue tape and a tape measure to map out where everything will go before you make any big purchases. You want a rug large enough that it’ll go under at least the front two legs of all of the furniture in that space, you want art that fills at least 2/3 of the wall where you’re hanging it (gallery walls count, since I know large-scale pieces are very pricey), and you want lighting that emanates from multiple parts of the room rather than only from your overhead lighting.”

If you only had to buy one thing to spruce up a room, what would it be?

“Fresh flowers!”

What’s one item you will always(or did) splurge on?

“I will alwaysss splurge on a comfortable, high-quality materials sofa. I have actually done this twice now; once in our last house and again in our new house (the sofa from the first house is now the movie-watching and snuggling sofa in the basement).”

One item you will never splurge on?

“I say dining chairs now (I’ve gotten some gorgeous MCM chairs on Craigslist or from second-hand stores), but I’m also eyeing some pretty expensive ones that I’ll likely never buy. Maybe I can get a client to buy them and I can live vicariously through him or her.  🙂 I also never splurge on throw pillows because HomeGoods always has such pretty options, and a vast selection of them, too!”

Favorite place to get apartment inspiration/window shop?

“Ohmygosh—Pearl Street in Boulder has some of the cutest home stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. I actually really love the vibe in Bar Taco, and I used that to inspire a Scandi-Boho design I put together for a client.”

Favorite place to find a bargain?

“Is it okay if I say Craigslist, or were you hoping for an actual store? If the latter, then HomeGoods :)”

A must-have or must-do for hosting?

“Again, fresh flowers, and lots of them! I also always make sure I have a bottle of tequila and some fresh limes in case the night decides to go that way.”

Favorite snack/item/activity for when you host company?

“Fave snack: Chips and salsa/guac (it’s too easy). Fave item: Lol… cute coozies (so my guests’ drinks are chilled and stylish). Fave activity: My husband and I are known among our friends for being those weirdos who play sports on mute on the TV so we can set the mood with music on the surround sound speakers. We’re honestly the kind of people who have the best time with an intimate group, as having a smaller group of people allows everyone to all be in the same conversation and share in the same laughter. If the tequila comes out, there’s also a lower likelihood that someone will spill something on the nice sofa I splurged on.”

Your worst apartment/home story?

“OMG when we lived in Chicago, my husband and I rented this garden-level apartment right after we got married because the owner said, ‘Only the garden unit has exclusive rooftop access. Nobody else in this building can go up there!’ He said it was something he negotiated with the building management as a way to balance out the fact that his unit was half below ground. So we signed an 18-month lease, and the entire time, we weren’t granted access to the rooftop because apparently, it had been under construction for years and he had halted the renovation because the city was taking its sweet time to approve the building permit.

To make matters worse, as soon as it got cold, all the ants decided to take refuge in our unit. I don’t mean a few ants here and there; I mean streams of ants coming out of one crack in the floor and going on a straight path directly into another crack. I’d also find them crawling on my slippers, which I of course threw out immediately. I have such a phobia of insects that I didn’t sleep for days until we called someone in to get the issue under control.”

Interior designing is Cait’s passion and craft and she has a beautiful portfolio to show for it. Her clients are loyal and extremely pleased with her decor skills, as evident by her returning client, Amy M., who wrote “I’m still so in love with the living room space you helped us with that I am back again to request more of your design expertise.” Cait even offers E-styling, which includes a carefully curated, fully personalized package complete with a style board full of decor ideas, a 3D rendering of your space, a shopping list of items, and 4 weeks of post-design support. Nest Out West is the portal to your interior design dreams!

We hope you’ve discovered a few tips and tricks on home design that you can use in your own space. If you’re in search of your dream apartment, AptAmigo can lead you to it! Let us know what your preferences are, and we will curate a list of the best apartments in neighborhoods you’ll love. Then, we’ll schedule a day of tours and Uber with you to each building. Our goal is to make apartment hunting stress-free, and maybe even a little fun!

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