A Tiny 450-Square-Foot Apartment Is a Master Class in Renter-Friendly Updates

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Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

Name: Ashley Paige Marmaro
Location: Old City — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, renting

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I found this apartment after losing one I was already looking at to another applicant! I was totally heartbroken, but once I saw the listing for this place, I knew it was the one. I live in a historic building in Old City—which is the historic district of Philadelphia, just blocks away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. A lot of people may have been intimidated by the size of my tiny apartment, but when I stepped inside I saw potential to make this place my home. The exposed brick, recessed bookshelf, and lofted bedroom with a spiral staircase stole my heart and I put down my deposit on the spot. What I love about my home is how much work I have put into it to truly make it mine.

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

The kitchen is not only tiny, but had ugly, green metal cabinets, backsplash, and range hood. I used my DIY skills to re-do the entire thing (with renter friendly materials). I used contact paper to cover the cabinets with textured white wood paper, and textured subway tile for the backsplash. I’ve also used marble contact paper in the living room to make my dated fireplace feel more modern and sleek.

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

Other DIYs around my home include most of the metal finishes in the living room. I used gold spray paint and metallic wax finish to cover my lamp, frames, and knobs on the dresser. I feel that having a consistent gold tone to the metals really brings the room together. The bar in the living room was also renovated by me—it was originally a red dresser with wooden knobs. I sanded it down and painted it a navy blue, and added hammered copper knobs that I painted gold to match the rest of the decor.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Cozy, chic, and historic.

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

What is your favorite room and why? I love everything about my living room; it’s definitely the star of my apartment! I love the exposed brick and recessed book shelf. I use the space to display books that show off my personality and interests, along with trinkets, too. This room also gets excellent lighting, which I enhance by having sheer curtains to make the space feel even bigger. My couch was a gift from my mother that she splurged on, but I feel that having a beautiful “adult” couch really makes my apartment feel like a home.

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My last major purchase for my apartment was my desk! As a medical student I am constantly studying and preparing for my patients, so having a desk that was large and beautiful was very important to me. I found this desk at Target and it looks beautiful in my bedroom.

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

Any advice for creating a home you love? The first thing people say when they come to my home is “this is so *you*”. If you have an aesthetic in mind, go for it—but remember to always add your personality to your home. My home is filled with photos and trinkets from my travels. I also have a lot of medical-themed decor throughout my apartment to show off my passion for medicine. In my bedroom I have my records displayed next to my guitar and amp to display my love for music. All of these make my apartment unique, but most importantly “me!”

Credit: Ashley Paige Marmaro

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.