Architecture and Design

Tabitha Myers' Small, Cool Living in 559 Square Feet

For Tabitha Myers, colonial decor is too often associated with austere halls, play-it-safe art and conservative neutrals. To her, colonial means bright, adventurous colors and and cheeky prints -- traditional pieces with rebellious twists.

Myers, a Chandler native, brought this eclectic vision of our founding fathers back to Phoenix after graduating from law school in Philadelphia.

Inside her one-bedroom apartment at Landmark Towers, she's combined the colonial culture of Philadelphia with the Midcentury modern history of Phoenix, blending eras to create a style so chic and signature that the DIY tastemakers of Apartment Therapy included her space in their Small Cool Contest.

The soon-to-be lawyer has no formal education in interior design. For her, it's a hobby picked up from blogs and magazines -- a creative outlet she needed while prepping for the bar.

In little ways, her inner bookish lawyer shines through her decor. When she had to decide whether to put a desk or a dining table in her 550-square-foot space, she chose the desk, moving the dining table outside to the balcony, with its killer view of the Phoenix skyline.

And then there's her fixation on the founding fathers.

Myers has two classic presidential portraits that she's painted over with neon, as well as a mini bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin next to her favorite chair and an art deco print of him from the Andyrama Store on Etsy on her gallery wall.

Even her paint color -- a brilliant egg-y turquoise that's one vital shade away from Tiffany blue -- was inspired by a founding father.

"When John Adams got big in his law practice, he celebrated by painting his house," she says. "Paint was so expensive back then, and I think it's so cool that for him, color was his big purchase."

The Midcentury modern influence is there too -- in the ghost chair at her desk, in her vintage coffee table, in the thin bubble vases near her window, and, of course, in her love of Phoenix architecture.

Two Jason Hill prints of local landmarks line the walls, along with sketches of Hanny's and Landmark Towers from her friend Aaron Kimberlin, who was up for the Apartment Therapy contest last year. But Myers' favorite piece is a print with the names of all the streets she's ever lived on, made by her sister, artist Monica Johnson.

Clearly, Myers advocates for letting your personal passions inspire your decor. Bbt she also offers a few tips: Search the Moving section on Craigslist and email the lister to ask if you can come see a sale early. Always haggle. When you paint with bright colors, make sure to match the intensity in your decor so nothing gets drowned out. And don't be afraid of carpet.

"Work with what you've got," she says. "When you're renting, there's always going to be something you don't like. You just have to make it your own."

Myers' pad is up for a vote at Apartment Therapy through April 30.

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Jessica Testa