Black paint and a host of vintage scores give a bland rental apartment a hip dose of personality.


Ten years ago, Steve Ford moved back to his hometown of Pittsburgh from the West Coast, bringing some of his adopted laid-back California lifestyle with him. The surfing enthusiast opened Decade, a clothing shop featuring West Coast and local brands. His rental apartment, which he shares with rescue pup Yoko, showcases his relaxed attitude and his creativity with wood scraps and Dumpster finds.

A dramatic black-and-white color palette highlights the apartment's high ceilings and chunky molding, as well as Steve's collection of comfortable, practical, clean-lined vintage furnishings. But the two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot space wasn't always so hip. Five years ago, random pieces from Steve's college days crowded rooms. When his roommate moved out, Steve decided it was time to grow up. 

Black and Brown

Homeowner Steve created a 12-foot-long dining table from Dumpster wood. His sister, interior designer Leanne Ford, scored the chairs for $5 each from a local salvage shop. Black industrial pendant lights compliment the black window-surrounds.

Masculine Mod

Leanne designed the main living area—which includes the dining area and kitchen—around a black Chesterfield sofa. The light hanging over the coffee table belonged to Steve's grandparents. A cowhide rug exudes bold masculinity, and a natural wood cocktail table brings midcentury style to the forefront of the design.

Gray Entry

Two vintage gray Eames shell chairs and a poster designed by Leanne form a mini entry within the living room. A sturdy chrome silver side table adds a bit of glamour to casual chairs.

Home Bar

A trio of vintage rolling carts team up to create a bar area. The surf artwork nods to Steve's favorite pastime and adds color to the largely neutral color scheme. A black metal lamp gives the bar an industrial vibe.

Textile Color

Steve and Leanne added verve to the small kitchen with dark gray walls and a vintage rug with bold cobalt and scarlet details. Stainless shelves hung in a vertical stack offer easy-access storage. A butcher block island top brings out the browns in the rug and accessories.

Warm Wood

White-painted plank walls in the bedroom highlight a custom tongue-and-groove teak bed frame Steve made himself. A worn luggage stand doubles as a bedside table, and the warm wood in its legs carries throughout the space.


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