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Apartment Tour: How This Lifelong Renter Transformed Her Queens Apartment

Kaitlin Stevens

By Kaitlin Stevens

Feb 06, 2024


Stacy M., 30, is an art director and lifelong renter in Queens, New York with a unique home situation: She lives in the same NYC apartment she grew up in, except now she’s the sole renter for the first time (though her boyfriend is moving in soon). 

When she was 25, her parents, who are originally from the Philippines, achieved their American Dream by becoming homeowners. Since they relocated to their new house outside the city, she has worked hard on making her space her own. She started renovating in 2019, opting for neutral and more renter-friendly changes, but began experimenting with adding splashes of color into her decor during the pandemic. While it’s unconventional to invest into a rented space, it’s the only home Stacy has ever known. Plus, she’s been blessed with landlords who trusted her to take care of the space and add value with her changes.

Read on to find out more about how her apartment renovation dreams became a reality, and how her parent’s old 850 square foot apartment became a new home.

Stacy’s NYC Apartment Tour

Stacy's bedroom. Photo courtesy of Stacy M.

The Bedroom

Stacy’s current bedroom is the room her parents used to sleep in. When they moved out, she redid the floors and painted the walls, opting for neutral gray wood floors and white walls.

Personal touches and color came from her pink bedspread, a green velvet chair from Albany Park, a rattan dresser from Urban Outfitters, and a heart-shaped rug by designer Matt Darling that says “Surviving Purely Out Of Spite.”

“It’s affirming to get out of bed and have that be the first thing I see,” Stacy says about her rug.

Stacy also keeps a clothing rack with some of her favorite pieces on display to help her pick outfits for the week.

Stacy's living room, featuring a gallery wall. Photo courtesy of Stacy M.

The Living Room

The living room was the first one that Stacy redecorated, since it’s where she spends the most time. The central point is her DIY gallery wall, which took her a while to put together.

The gallery wall holds Stacy’s purple electric guitar, an Epiphone Les Paul, which was a gift she got herself after getting a promotion at work. On the same wall is a shelf with photos of Stacy’s favorite people, and some smaller decor pieces from New York City–based artists. 

More color was introduced into the living room through home decor, like her custom mustard yellow velvet sectional from Interior Define and various colored throw pillows. A black and rattan credenza from Wayfair and rattan coffee table from Homary tie everything together and keep the main living space grounded.

A musical person, Stacy also sings and plays the piano in addition to playing the guitar. Her living room is home to her Donner keyboard, where she writes original songs.

(From left to right) Stacy's renovated kitchen; her coffee station. Photo courtesy of Stacy M.

The Kitchen

The biggest project in Stacy’s renovation was her kitchen, which got a complete overhaul. The original 1930s design of all dark wood was replaced by new white cabinetry from IKEA and white peel-and-stick subway tile for a backsplash. The cost of the renovation came out of Stacy’s pocket, though her landlord replaced the oven and cooktop for her.

While the modern kitchen is clean and neutral, Stacy adds personality through pops of color like her coffee station, which features a fun pink and green peel-and-stick wallpaper from artist Kate Zaremba and a vintage-looking mint green and white espresso machine from Ariete, plus flavored syrups and a shelf with a bunch of different mugs. Consider it minimalist with maximalist touches.

As a full-time art director, Stacy also uses her apartment as a makeshift studio space for some brand work, and her new kitchen has come in handy.

“I worked with a dish soap brand for a long time and had to take a bunch of photos of myself washing dishes, and I kept thinking, ‘This would never have worked in my old kitchen,’” Stacy says. 

(From left to right) Stacy's brand new dining area; her light fixture from Amazon. Photo courtesy of Stacy M.

The Dining Area

Just off the kitchen is Stacy’s dining area, where a round white table is complemented by pink velvet chairs, all from Wayfair. 

The accent wall is decorated with a floral peel-and-stick wallpaper, also from Kate Zaremba. 

“I want to live in a sunset!” Stacy says when asked why she opts for so many soft pinks and yellows in her decor.

She also replaced a low-hanging midcentury light fixture that she and guests constantly bumped their heads on with a newer, brass sputnik light fixture from Amazon, making the room even more modern.

Stacy's workspace. Photo courtesy of Stacy M.

The Work Space

Stacy’s workspace in her living room is cozy and warm, with a pink velvet swivel chair from Wayfair and a curved rattan desk from Target. This is where she keeps her computer, as well as some special trinkets, like a figurine of a crying baby elephant (gifted to her by her high school janitor, who saw her crying and wanted to remind her to smile). 

She also keeps a LoveBox on her desk, which she and her boyfriend use to send each other personalized digital messages. Twin gold grids on the wall display some cute photos and letters from friends.

On her love for rattan furniture in her interior design, Stacy says it reminds her of the summers she spent in the Philippines as a kid. 

“I think it adds warmth and texture to the space and also nods to my culture,” she says.

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