How to Make the Most of Apartment Living with Thomas Trust of @rustandtrust

Home decor and men’s fashion blogger Thomas Trust of @rustandtrust shares how he decorates his Chicago apartment to feel like his own and offers his top design tips for renters.

Having lived in Chicago for six years, Thomas describes his style as “California mid-century” yet also influenced by his ever-changing city surroundings. He shares, “I think urban life has definitely influenced my decor aesthetic to be more eclectic. Design can tend to be matchy-matchy, and I love that eclectic styles are more seen and celebrated in the city.”

A few of Thomas' favorite living room pieces displayed for all to see (peep the Greek Key Grey rug under his TV stand!)

This eclectic mix and matching can be seen throughout his home, including how Thomas staged a hallway table decorated with coastal blue accents inspired by a vacation to Tulum while elsewhere, gold, black and white elements are reminiscent of sleek Chicago skyscrapers.

Thomas’ beach-inspired hall decor shown with the Manchester Royal Blue Well Woven runner and a decorated coffee table atop his Luca Blue rug

For anyone living in an apartment or even just moving out for the first time, Thomas’s top three must-have pieces to those working with a limited budget are: 

      "1. A big comfy couch...I really do think it makes a huge difference and makes you want to have company and be able to fit everyone.

      2. My second would probably be plants, I love having fresh greenery in my space, even if I need to keep it away from an all-too-curious puppy.

      3. My third would probably be a big statement piece with a fun pattern to liven up my space. Love a big statement rug like Well Woven offers, it really warms up the space and makes it super inviting.”

If you don't have a green thumb or have a four-legged friend to be mindful of, Thomas' living room is proof that photos of plants work just as well as real ones to liven up a space. His dog, Brooklyn, would agree.

While it may seem less economical to invest in a temporary living situation, Thomas stands by the idea of investing in a few quality neutral pieces that you can use for years to come. One example is his L-shaped sectional couch from Joybird, to which he recommends, “Skip the low-end couch and invest a little more in something that’ll last you years and not something you’ll have to keep buying over and over when it wears down.” 

Thomas’ living room highlighting his core statement pieces, including his plush Joybird couch and Luca Blue rug

To maximize comfort and aesthetics in a rental, Thomas also recommends customizing what you can. Adding a painted accent wall or showing off your style on your walls can go a long way to making a space feel like home. Bland, white walls can be spruced up with wall hangings and pictures, but painting when you can often is faster and cheaper. Thomas painted his accent wall in his bedroom with bold lines while creating a playful kitchen wall using decals from Kenna Sato designs. In addition, he adds extra color and personal style through the addition of area rugs in each room.

Thomas expresses his creativity unobtrusively in his apartment through area rugs such as the Keeva Blue rug shown here in his bedroom and with accent walls painted and applied with decals.

Of course, living in an apartment, Thomas has to design around certain limitations of modifying a space, however, one of the most significant boosts to creativity comes from limitations.

How will you decorate your rental space?