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Chaereen Pak rented this Philadelphia studio apartment for two years, sharing it with two tortoiseshell cats, Sophie and Tsuki: I often joke that three cats live in my apartment: my two actual cats, and then me. I think I resemble a cat in more ways than one, from loving to lounge in the sun at home for hours on end to being protective of my personal space, whether that be physical or emotional. I’ve lived alone for five years now — on the other side of the country from my family, through a pandemic, and during both the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Ensuring that my home feels safe and comforting is top priority for me. I also spend quite a lot of time in this apartment! I work from home on Mondays and Fridays for my day job, and my introverted self tends to choose to stay home and read, cook, or just be still when in need of replenishing.
I’m a Korean American creative originally from Los Angeles, California. I moved to Philly for school, and I ended up staying afterwards to pursue a career in design and marketing. Over the last few years, I’ve been leading the creative team at a start-up and also opened a coffee shop with two partners in Fishtown. As a creative, I’m naturally drawn towards harmonious palettes, clean lines, and smart usage of space.
My apartment is a neutral, warm canvas that is adorned with pops of bright, happy colors. I love growing plants, and you’ll always find fresh flowers in my home. I count them as small joys in my daily life that remind me to never stop being in awe of the beauty that this world has to offer. I love traveling as well, and I’ve made a habit of collecting maps of cities that I’ve visited. There’s a map of LA and Seoul on one wall — my hometown and my parents’ hometown respectively — and there’s a map of Tokyo’s metro lines on another wall, because I lived in Mitaka for a semester in college and was absolutely mesmerized by the efficiency and intricacy of their transit systems.
Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: A creative homebody’s safe space.
What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is 3-in-1: bedroom, living room, and office. I’m obsessed with both my classic brick wall and what I call my window wall — I have three enormous east-facing windows that flood warmth and light into my studio every morning. I had to be clever with how I situated the furniture, given the tight square footage and my desire for delineation between space for work and space for rest in the same room. There’s inevitable overlap, such as how my “office” is also my dining table. But, being able to clearly define a sleeping area, eating area, and lounging area allows me to be more intentional about how I actually live in this apartment.
What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I can’t remember my last purchase, but I can say that my best purchase is my jelly bean-shaped coffee table that I snagged on Facebook Marketplace for $20.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Be resourceful. Buy secondhand. And, as cliché as it sounds, I think what’s most important is to be your authentic self. Don’t stray away from something that looks great in your eyes simply because it’s not what’s considered trendy or stylish by others. At the end of the day, your space is yours — do whatever you please with it, as long as it makes you feel safe, comfortable, and truly at home!