Inside Emily Blanchard’s Sweet Apartment in West Warwick
The budding interior designer and Instagram influencer transformed a gray bachelor pad into a bright perch to call her own.
Change of Scene
There’s no fresher start than white paint. When Emily Blanchard and her fiance ended their engagement and put their house on the market, Blanchard searched for an apartment that could accommodate her pitbull rescue, Opal. She rented the first dog-friendly place she found: a two-bedroom, two-level space over a garage in West Warwick. At the time, it was painted a dreary shade of gray and had scant furniture — just a chair and a gaming console belonging to the outgoing tenant, a man in his twenties. “It looked dreadful, but I could see there was potential,” Blanchard, thirty, says. With her landlord’s permission, she got out her paintbrush and began the transformation, one stroke of Sherwin Williams “Snowbound” at a time.
Blanchard learned the basics of home improvement while working on her first home, a fixer-upper in Cumberland. So, after painting her new apartment, she pulled out her pink toolbox and chipped away at elements most renters learn to live with, however grudgingly.
“I was the girl who didn’t know how to do anything,” she says. “I would wait around for [my ex-fiance] to hang up curtains and put together furniture, but I was tired of waiting.”
At her new abode, Blanchard installed chandeliers, pendant lights and sconces first. Then came the drawer pulls and fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen and, eventually, some appliances.
Blanchard shares her best trial-and-error tips on her blog, Emily Everyday, and her Instagram account of the same name. Her readers offer feedback, too. When Blanchard struggled to install a new dishwasher — a perk of having 40,000 followers on Instagram: paid sponsorships with companies like GE and Kingston Brass — a reader nudged her to check the fuse box. Problem solved.
“Even though [Instagram is] kind of a job now, it hasn’t lost its luster,” says Blanchard, who daylights as an executive assistant at What Cheer Flower Farm. “It feels like I have 40,000 friends.”
Go for Bold
Blanchard is comfortable taking risks, albeit impermanent ones — for her sake and her landlord’s. Case in point: a wood paneled wall in the apartment’s sunroom painted in Benjamin Moore “Black Panther.” In a sea of white, the shade is a bold choice, but one she could change if she tired of it.
Blanchard values versatility in interior design. The sunroom photographs, for example, are digital downloads she purchased for less than $1 each on Etsy and printed at Staples; she swaps them out with regularity. Interchangeable pillow covers — many sourced from Modern Clementine and Brimfield Antique Show — also keep the sunroom looking fresh.
But, for Blanchard, one thing’s certain: Her design choices always consider four-year-old Opal, who Blanchard calls her “spirit animal.” She selects furniture with pet-friendly material, including the made-for-outdoors couch in the sunroom, to allow for more snuggles and fewer worries.
Room for Growth
“People always ask me, ‘How do you make your style feel synonymous?’ ” Blanchard says. “I’ve always just told them to get what they love, and it’ll come together.”
For Blanchard, that often means new furniture styled with thrifted and vintage accessories. One of her favorite spots for vintage sourcing is Mike’s Estate Services, a five-minute drive from her apartment in West Warwick. A kitchen shelf — the simple DIY project that convinced her landlord to give her free design range — holds glassware from Mike’s and Saver’s and a painting from Brimfield Antique Show, a piece she found at the beginning of the day and bought at a steep discount at the end of it.
Blanchard appreciates a good flea market haggle, but she’s just as likely to deep-scroll web merchants such as Wayfair — where she purchased the wooden side table in the living room — for unusual and affordable finds. She’s also tending a green thumb, as evidenced by the tiny pots of life beside the windows in her sunroom.
She’s all for new growth; she’s been there. And she’s up for whatever comes her way. Blanchard and her pink toolbox can handle it. “When you do it yourself, it’s a bit of an adventure,” she says. “But I feel so accomplished.”