Lauren Kirby spent most of 2012 in India, where she produced documentaries for My Choices, a nonprofit organization aimed at stopping domestic violence. The 28-year-old independent radio reporter has also lived in Florida, where she taught yoga on the beach, and in Maine, where she earned her master’s degree from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Six months ago the Kansas City native returned home to “roost” and quickly found a small, one-bedroom apartment in midtown. A “motivated renter,” Kirby has refurbished the apartment herself following instructions she found on DIY blogs like Young House Love.
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She also relied on guidance from employees of the Home Depot at 111 E. Linwood Blvd. “They got used to me showing up in various states of mania, with my hair all crazy, like, ‘I need you to help me right now,’ ” she says. Kirby is proud of the skills she has acquired and that she now owns tools she didn’t even know existed before moving in.
Kirby worked most extensively on the kitchen and bathroom, drawing inspiration from Utilitarian Workshop’s brick and mortar space (1659 Summit St.), as well as the “small but utilized” look of soda fountain and espresso bar Little Freshie (811 W. 17th St.).
She replaced the linoleum countertop in the kitchen with tile and grouted around existing tile in the bathroom to give it a fresher look. After a portion of the counter in front of the kitchen sink fell off in her hands, she rebuilt and retiled that, too. In exchange for her work on the apartment, Kirby’s landlord has given her discounts on rent.
When she returned from India, Kirby owned only one piece of furniture (her desk) and almost no home goods. She relied on estate sales and secondhand shops like Revival Home Furnishings and Habitat for Humanity ReStores to revamp and furnish the apartment on a “shoestring” budget.
Starting from scratch meant that Kirby was able to furnish the apartment intentionally. “You have to think about how you want to feel, the way things make you feel,” she says.
Kirby enjoys having a space that is entirely her own, and she has carefully curated the furnishings and decor to create what she calls her “Magical Ladytime Palace.”