Life After Travel: My Denver Apartment Tour

After living in France with a host family and then backpacking the world for a year, I was ready for a place of my own. After all, I hadn’t had my own space in two and a half years! So I’ll admit- I got a bit, um… carried away.

I spent way too much money on my first adult apartment. Moving halfway across the country ain’t cheap- and neither is buying all new furniture, even on a budget.

But despite the money I spent, it’s still so nice to come home to a place I love.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

I splurged on a few things: namely a $400 liquor cabinet and several very over-priced throw pillows. But besides that most everything was from Ikea and Target. I PROMISE.

And yes, I’ll admit my map obsession has reached new and ridiculous heights. Moving on…

 

The Kitchen

I love my kitchen. The backsplash of white subway tile, acacia cabinets, (fake) granite countertops… sigh.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

Plus, my kitchen holds so many mementos my travels– a little mincemeat jar I bought in Dublin from an old man who said my Spanish was beautiful, a gorgeous blue and white fruit bowl from French Catalonia, a Spanish olive wood cheese board, white vintage bistro dishes I bought at a Parisian flea market.

Kitchen details in a Denver apartment

The mincemeat jar I bought in Ireland and a beautiful salad bowl I bought in Jordan. Why yes, I do love blue and white together.

I love to cook so my kitchen is fully outfitted with everything a chef might need, from a hand blender to Santoku knives.

I especially love to cook dishes from all different cuisines, so you’re equally likely to find me wielding a wok as you are battering up buckwheat crêpes. I also have lots of random ingredients like Iranian pomegranate molasses and Chinese black bean paste.

Working full-time? Please get yourself a rice cooker and Crock Pot. These two appliances have made weekday cooking so easy. My strategy is to double or triple a Crock Pot recipe on Sunday and then eat the same dish throughout the week.

Two of my favorite kitchen details are admittedly very Francophile: my mostly French cookbook collection and my French cheese prints, which depict some of my favorite cheeses from my time in France.

Kitchen details

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My AMAZING bialetti which I use to make moka, or stovetop espresso, and my cute tea kettle.

Toast corner

My toast-making corner with three kinds of bread, French butter and blackberry and geranium jam. Toast is my fave.

I’ve been thinking of sharing a full-kitchen post soon- would you guys interested? I love to cook so I’d love to recommend my favorite products and show off all my wacky ethnic cooking utensils.

Where I bought everything: Crock-pot  // Rice cooker // 6-Cup Stovetop Bialetti // Tea Kettle // Chrome Toaster // Cheese Prints from Etsy

 

The Living Room

I honestly don’t spend a lot of time in my living room- I don’t really watch TV and the couch is stylish but not comfy.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

My roommate is from Cleveland and I’m from Detroit, so we wanted to pay homage to our home cities with maps.

As soon as my map came in the mail all the way from Sweden, from an awesome start-up called Mapiful, my roommate ordered hers right away. The maps are beautiful quality and you can completely customize how zoomed in or zoomed out you are. Plus, you can have any location in the world custom-mapped!

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Cleveland and Detroit have never looked so good together, am I right?

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

So trendy with an Edison bulb lamp- ha.

My most ridiculous home purchase was by far this aforementioned liquor cabinet. But I had to have it because it reminds me of Mad Men and I really want to learn how to mix drinks.

Sadly, so far every cocktail I’ve concocted tastes like dish soap- my bartending skills are still a work in progress.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

My favorite little corner of the living room is this chair, backed by a 12-piece NYC map. Perfect for reading except not because the chair is totally uncomfortable.Denver_Girls_Apartment_Tour_3

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

Where I bought everything: Overstock Coffee Table // Edison Bulb Lamp from Etsy // Ikea TV Unit // Gold Urban Outfitters Side Table // American Furniture Warehouse Couch // Crate and Barrel Bourbon Cabinet // Mapiful Map Prints // New York City Map from Etsy // Cream Ikea Chair

 

Balcony

I’m super lucky- my balcony is huge. When the weather’s nice (which it almost always is, because Denver) we open the doors and enjoy the breeze in the living room.

The chair below is my favorite chair ever- on lazy Sundays I often curl up there with a fluffy blanket and my Kindle. It fully reclines so it’s almost like reading in bed.

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I also adore this little propane grill I snagged on Amazon for $130. So far we’ve only used it for lamb burgers and jerk chicken, but we’re planning on using it tons this spring and summer.

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Where I bought everything: Propane Grill // Zero Gravity Chair

 

The Bedroom

My bedroom is super minimalist- it definitely needs more color but I am forbidding myself from buying anything else.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

My bed itself is the most comfortable bed in the entire world. It has two mattress pads- one super soft one and one heated. The heated one has controls on both sides, so if there are two people in bed they can change their own heat controls. How’s that for creature comforts?

Additionally I really love having a white bed- it feels so cozy and clean and reminds me of a hotel.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

I also love these floating shelves, which came with the apartment. They’re decorated very sentimentally with antique perfume bottles (one I bought in Paris, one in Michigan), a jewelry box I bought at a Denver thrift shop, a silver mirror and brush I inherited from my great-grandmother and a small wooden box my best friend bought me in China.

Oh and that adorable rosewood whale you might be eyeing? I impulsively bought that on Etsy for $45 during the height of my online shopping addiction.

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Also sentimental- my eight-piece map of Paris. Love.

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I’m also lucky to have a walk-in closet with shelves. Normally it’s more organized, I swear.

Where I bought everything: Ikea Leirvik Bedframe // Pottery Barn Duvet Cover // Ikea dresser // Ikea nightstand // Heated mattress pad // mattress pad // Paris Map // Yellow honeycomb pillow // Grey honeycomb pillows

 

The bathroom

Frankly there’s not too much to say here- but my bathroom is spacious and has a few cute details.

Twenty-something Girls Apartment in Denver

A monogrammed mug with makeup brushes- God I am so basic…

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And a tray with perfume and jewelry.

So how much do you pay in rent?

I actually only pay $1750, which feels cheap after four years in Chicago. My roommate and I split it down the middle- she gets the bigger bedroom and I get the parking space. In addition to the apartment we also have a huge ski locker and laundry down the hall.

How did you decorate your first adult apartment? Did you go slightly overboard like me or did you hold back and save your money for more important things?

Mapiful provided me the Detroit map for review but everything else was purchased by me or my roommate. All opinions are my own.

This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please read my disclosure for more info.
About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

37 thoughts on “Life After Travel: My Denver Apartment Tour”

  1. Oh my gosh, this is a glorious apartment. I finally live in an apartment where I feel the need to decorate. I’ve got a few maps and prints of travel photos up, but Mapiful looks so awesome! I’ve already been playing around with a few choices. I know who to call if I ever need decorating advice. You nailed it!

    • Thanks, Amanda! I spent way too much time reading design blogs when putting everything together. A few things even bug me about what I bought- the side table isn’t as high as the couch for example :). But overall I’m pretty pleased!

  2. I love it! That kitchen is so dreamy. The kitchen is my favorite of the house since we spend most of our time there cooking, baking, scheming.
    I love putting my travel photos up, they always brighten up my week when I see them. It reminds me of all of my adventures. Great apartment!

  3. Can’t wait to have my own place back home so I can decorate it with maps to the max!! Not looking forward to spending $$$$$ on rent though; is that $1750 your share or the entire apartment? I only pay 133€/month for a (admittedly plain) room here in Santiago…I am so spoiled!

  4. Your apartment is lovely & you should definitely be proud of it! Luckily for me, I moved into my bf’s apartment so I didn’t have to buy any furniture which I know costs a lot of $$$ upfront. Since it was totally a “bachelor pad” I did the whole decorating route but that’s something I enjoy doing. I’ve never bought stuff for the sake of buying it, but I purchase things to make my home embody everything I love in life (cookbooks, wall art, global sit arounds etc). I’ve never wanted to be a nomad, so I enjoy buying meaningful things on my travels that also serve as great decor pieces and conversation starters :) I also have to give props to Groupon Goods ha ha-they have on occasion a lot of great travel themed wall art (that I perhaps do go overboard on!).

    • That’s really smart! I’m even annoyed I didn’t buy more souvenirs- I totally should’ve bought vintage champagne glasses in France and a Venetian mask at Carnevale for example. I haven’t checked out Groupon Goods but thanks for the tip!

  5. Dear Ashley,
    I had no idea what your apartment would be like, but it is well constructed
    and your decorating is slick—pristine but decorative and personal. I like
    your clean, uncluttered look!

    I would love sitting watching you cook one of your exotic meals. I would be happy to set the table and do clean up!

    Thanks for sharing, a great tour!

    Love,

    Gamma

    • Thanks, Gamma! I’d like to think I inherited your eye for design- your homes are always perfectly decorated in such an eclectic and cozy and effortless way. I can definitely cook but I doubt it will be as good as Papa Lou’s cooking! Love, Ashley

  6. Beautiful apartment! I wish my post-travel life looked a bit more like this, rather than box-room at my mum’s house ^^

  7. Such a cute apartment! Do you mind sharing the neighborhood and square footage of your place? We’re apartment hunting in Denver and it’s overwhelming!

  8. Gosh I have NO furniture to call my own except Goodwill finds or stuff people gave me for free! Your apartment looks great and I do love all the blue and white! And I’m just going to look into those maps right now…

  9. Hi Ashley,
    Thank you thank you thank you for this post. I moved into my own apartment after two years of backpacking late 2014, and this was just the post I needed to see. It shows us travel blog readers that it is ok to settle down in your own space after travel – I don’t relate very well to those travel bloggers who wax lyrical on how it is possible to travel and blog to create a passive income in order to keep travelling. Some of us long term travellers need to re-coup and settle in one place (in comfort and style) before continuing on the journey. Thank you. PS. Looooveee the maps

    • Hi Clare, thanks so much for leaving this comment. I totally know what you mean- frankly after two years I wanted my own space and a group of friends I saw every weekend- I just needed a bit more routine and normalcy. Honestly I couldn’t be a digital nomad for five years at a time- I have no idea how they do it!

    • I had never owned any nice furniture or anything (in college I just had a hodgepodge mess my parents lent me) so it’s been super nice to have all new stuff. Granted if I could do it again I would’ve spent a little bit less! :)

  10. Your apartment is so nice! I love all of your decorations, like the Edison bulb lamp. And I pretty much need those French cheese prints! I don’t know why, I just really like those :) Although if I had them on my wall in Jakarta they would probably make me depressed about the severe lack of good cheese available here…So it looks like I’ll be in Boulder in July. We should definitely try to meet up for a cup of coffee! I’m so excited to be surrounded my nature again. I can’t wait!

    • I love those too, each of those cheeses brings back a memory for me. If only we had good French cheese in the states! I would definitely love to grab coffee or maybe go on a hike! :)

  11. $1750 a month? Oh geez, once again I’m grateful that I love small-town life. My mortgage isn’t even half that.
    I know what it’s like to get carried away with nesting though. When I moved back into my place I suddenly had to have All. The. Things.
    For years I got by with just the basics. I’ve got it under control now…although I really like those maps you have… :)

    • Wow that must be so nice. I think $1750 for two people is fairly cheap but that’s what four years in Chicago will do to you. I definitely didn’t need such a nice place at 24 but I think after years of host families and hostels I went a bit overboard :)

  12. I adore your apartment and your style! Seriously you have great taste! I have the same exact toaster by the way. I love that toaster! It was a huge decision for me when I bought it. Haha. I knew I wanted a new toaster and it took my forever to decide but I’m very happy with my ultimate choice. ;)

  13. I love your style! It’s gorgeous! I also hate that adorable reading chairs are not actually comfortable, but it does invite a good book and cup of coffee based on looks alone!

    • Thanks, Jessica! I had a lot of fun finally flexing my interior design muscles after so many years living out of a backpack :). And sometimes it feels like you can’t have style, comfort and a good price- you can only have two out of three!

  14. Hey Ashley! I’ve just found your blog and I love! I’m currently fixated on your Bali & yoga retreat tips, I think that is my next plan. I just wanted to ask you a question really, in your earlier posts you explained you weren’t always happy while you were in Asia. It sounds like overall you’ve had some awesome travel experiences! I’m just wondering, do you feel happy now? I’ve just moved abroad but now I’m here I think maybe I’d like to be more settled in a new city at home.

    • Hi Felicity, great question. So I would definitely say overall I’m happier now as I love having a group of friends and a steady source of income. That being said, I think going abroad was really necessary for me as it made me a braver, more confident person. I also gained a lot in terms of self-knowledge- my yoga teacher training in particular really helped me deal with lot of my flaws/insecurities! Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.

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