You don't have to spend a fortune to have a great looking apartment.
Want proof? Check out the oh-so-chic digs of LSU seniors Caroline and Margaret McKowen.
With the help of their godmother, Margaret Lawhon Schott, the identical twins transformed their townhouse apartment into a sophisticated spot that's also long on comfort.
And they did it all on a budget.
"Everything came from places like Overstock and HomeGoods, things that are 25 to 75 percent off," Caroline McKowen said. "We looked until we could get a good price."
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Some things came from the home of Schott's late mother, like a painting on the landing done by local artist Melanie Hansbrough and a mirror in a frame that belonged to Schott's grandmother.
"It's like shopping in the attic," Schott said. "I kept the painting that was in the frame but had a mirror put in for the girls."
The apartment is basically three rooms — a living room/dining room/kitchen combination downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. The walls both upstairs and down are painted a neutral putty color. The downstairs floors are treated concrete.
"We have a love-hate relationship with those floors," Margaret McKowen said. "I constantly think, 'Do I need to mop them for the 14th time?' "
The twins moved to the apartment two years ago, and Schott gave them lessons in shopping and decorating and helped them pick fabric for simple living room draperies.
"Everything was a collaborative effort," Schott said.
From the twins' older sister, Catherine Evans, came the girls' living room sofa, and they found a couple of chairs for $150 each. The room is tied together with pillows and a table from Overstock, an area rug from Pier One and a few accessories from Target. A large oil painting done by the girls' aunt, Carolyn Bourgeois, is the focal point of the room.
"I asked her to do it, but I didn't know it would be so big and so nice," Margaret McKowen said.
A light blue hutch in the room contains items that have special meaning for the girls, including a photo of their grandfather, Robert C. Witcher, retired bishop of Long Island, New York, and present bishop-in-residence at St. James Episcopal Church. There's a book on martinis, a nod to Schott's husband, Martin Schott, who loves the classic drink.
The kitchen has a subway tile backsplash and stylish black appliances.
In Margaret McKowen's bedroom, where whimsical gold-painted angel wings hang over the door, several pieces of furniture have been repainted in neutral colors, including a mirror she found in a swap shop in Lafayette. She has an upholstered headboard, lots of throw pillows and a small blue sofa, with accents of blue and white toile.
Caroline McKowen used turquoise as the accent color in her bedroom on pillows and in a batik print on a bench at the foot of her bed, also with an upholstered headboard. She has a glass-covered table and several pieces of art.
Last May, the Schotts took the girls to France. While shopping in a large Sunday market in Provence, they found some handmade linen napkins monogrammed with their initials, "C" and "M".
"We had to have them," Caroline McKowen said. "It was meant to be."
Schott encourages the twins to bring into their apartment items that have special meaning, "like personal things things from a trip or from a personal experience," she said.