Apartment Tour: This NYC Renter Decorated her Oversized Washington Heights Bedroom on a Budget

Claire Nicholas

By Claire Nicholas

May 14, 2024

Madison Adore, a NYC renter since 2021, moved to Washington Heights in northern Manhattan when she got into grad school at Columbia. It offered a short commute and a kitchen, something she realized she couldn't live without after a semester in the dorms. ”As a nutrition student, I was losing my mind by Christmas time,” she says. One call to the housing office later, and she had the opportunity to move in to one of her favorite apartments she’s ever lived in.

The floor plan presented just one challenge — one that's typically unheard of in NYC real estate: There was a little too much space. The bedroom alone had more square feet than most apartments she’d seen when she lived in the East Village. As a maximalist, she had her work cut out for her. Read on for her NYC apartment tour and tips on how she decorated her bedroom on a budget.

Filling the Walls

Adore was excited by the prospect of filling the empty space in her new New York City apartment. Compared to other places she’d seen while apartment hunting, this was a gem. “It had real hardwood floors, bay windows, high ceilings, things I never dared to dream of having in New York,” she says.

Plus, the prospect of making the room over in her style was a journey she was ready for. “I never had full creative control in any of my spaces; my college spaces were all shared and my mom is an interior designer who made all executive decisions at home,” she says.

Adore knew she wanted photos and prints on the walls, rugs on the floor to break up the large layout, and color everywhere. “My goal was to be crafty, daring, and thrifty,” she says. But, further, she was hoping her space could be a representation of how she sees the world. That way, she could share that worldview with visitors and friends on Instagram. 

When it comes to the details in her apartment decor, Adore always hopes people notice and look at her photos — especially the wall she dedicates to self-love. She calls it her Wall of Me. “It helps uplift me and increase my confidence,” she says. “Some may call it vain, but I don’t mind.” 

To execute her goals of developing a maximalist space, Adore traveled across multiple boroughs, including some trips to Long Island City in Queens for thrifted trinkets and one especially memorable subway ride with an eight-by-ten Persian rug in tow.

Adore says Facebook Marketplace was key to her room coming together, and she calls Marketplace her “best friend at the time. People in Washington Heights were kind enough to list free items frequently.” She would curate items she liked and place them in her room, filling up negative space bit by bit.

(From left to right) Adore decorated the vertical space in her bedroom with lots of photos and posters; a full-length mirror shows off one post of her canopy princess bed. All photos courtesy of Madison Adore.(From left to right) Adore decorated the vertical space in her bedroom with lots of photos and posters; a full-length mirror shows off one post of her canopy princess bed. All photos courtesy of Madison Adore.

Creating A Reading Nook Worthy of The View

Although Adore doesn’t live in her Washington Heights apartment anymore, hindsight has never changed her favorite part of living there: the bay windows overlooking the Hudson River. She knew she would have to put together a space that was perfect for the view she had, and the couch was essential. Adore tells us she rented a U-Haul for one hour to transport her brown leather couch. “It was worth every second,” she says.

“I put my couch by the windows and kept all of my books close by so it became a reading nook,” she says. “I would sit there for hours, watching the lights of the George Washington Bridge come on, people walking on the path by the highway, and even fireworks on the Fourth of July.”

Finding & Styling the Princess Bed

Facebook Marketplace is also where Adore managed to find (after weeks of scouring) one of her only bedroom non-negotiables, a full-size “princess bed,” which would become her DIY canopy bed. In what she considers her favorite room decorating story, Adore traveled 90 blocks to the apartment of a woman who was willing to part with her princess bed. “I expected to come to the apartment and just grab the pieces of the bed, but the woman was recovering from RSV,” she says. “She hadn’t even taken a screw out of the 60-piece bed frame.” 

Adore sat on the floor while the woman took Zoom meetings for work and took apart the bed herself. Then, she bought sheer curtains from a local store and taped them to the bed frame, and the rest is history. Full-size canopy bed in a NYC apartment? Why not?

It’s this carefree spirit that makes tasks like filling a completely empty oversized room on the 19th floor more like a fun project, even a soul-searching journey, for Adore, and she’ll happily do it again for her next apartment. 

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