Cool Art and Cute DIYs Make This 475-Square-Foot New York Apartment Both Elegant and Eccentric

updated Feb 6, 2020

Cool Art and Cute DIYs Make This 475-Square-Foot New York Apartment Both Elegant and Eccentric

updated Feb 6, 2020
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Name: Ashley Rucker
Location: New York, NY
Size: 475 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, renting

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Ashley Rucker’s work and passions center around the arts. She works for a luxury beauty brand, she’s modeled for brands like like Offtrack and more; appeared in Australian band Holy Holy’s music video “Faces,” and even appeared in the first season of Netflix’s “Dating Around.” She’s also the founder of a new non-profit called TherapART (a dance immersive experience set to launch later in 2020) AND volunteers with Young New Yorkers, another art therapy non-profit. The arts are a huge part of her life and work, and when it came to the 475-square-foot New York apartment she calls home, she wanted art to be a big part of this place, too.

“I love my apartment because it represents me in every way,” says Ashley. “It’s funky, colorful, elegant and eccentric—all things I strive to be. One of my favorite things to do is entertain and have my friends over. Although my place is small, I normally bring out the velvet loveseat I have in my bedroom for more seating. It makes it super cozy if I am having more than five people over. When I am not entertaining, I am usually dancing, reading or working on my collages and on Therapart, my nonprofit launching in 2020.  My place inspires me on many levels from the art down to the colors and overall feeling.  I have a lot of original photographs of musicians and artists and they are my talismans—they protect me in my space.” 

Ashley worked with Amelia Nicholas (whose own small New York space we’ve featured on Apartment Therapy) to bring her small space to life; getting organizing and design help with the small space. “Ashley hired me to help her create a home that reflects her love of art, color and culture,” says Amelia. “She has great personal style but was hitting a wall in translating that to her home life. The influences for me were Havana, Harlem, and the NYC pop art scene of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. It’s very different from my space, but the end result feels really good. I also think the best part of the project is how much DIY we did. A lot of color and pattern and re-purposing the things she had. I think it’s a great example of all the things you can do to make a basic walk-up rental apartment feel customized.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style:  My style is always evolving but if I could put it into one word, it would be free. Free to be whomever I want to be. When I think of my style I think of it in different characters and my apartment reflects that. My bedroom feels very different from my living room. Each space has its own energy.

Inspiration: The inspiration for my apartment really started through the pieces of art I have collected. I remember buying my first piece from the Brooklyn Museum, a photograph of Basquiat. From there I became obsessed with collecting photographs of musicians and started to build this large collection—so much so I have had to give some pieces away. All of the artists have inspired me and have also inspired the way I live.  

Favorite Element: I love the front lounge at Indochine (the downtown bar and restaurant across from The Public Theater). When I was discussing points of inspiration with Amelia, we kept coming back to that classic banana leaf print. I know a lot of people have been using it lately but she heard what I wanted. Then she managed to hunt down a temporary wallpaper version on Etsy that is as close to the original as I’ve ever seen. She wanted me to learn how to do some of the DIY, so she taught me as she was installing it. I love that view now from my living area into my bedroom. 

Biggest Challenge: I don’t have a dining room, and I didn’t want to do the lone sad stool next to my kitchen counter. I’d rather have more counter space and storage. The square steel restaurant table doubled my prep surface and got around the weird cabinet stopping short in the middle of the wall. So I use my coffee table when I have friends over and we have a living room picnic instead.

Proudest DIY: I love the piece Amelia made hanging over my front door.  It’s the inner packaging from a case of wine that she painted white. The most ordinary things can become art, if you have a free mind.

Biggest Indulgence: The bedroom wallpaper and my Wright mattress.

Best Advice: Don’t waste years living in a space, even a rental, that isn’t a reflection of you. Take the time (or hire someone!) to help pull your vision into focus. I feel more me, more inspired, and more creative yet calm every day now. With everything I am hoping to achieve through Therapart, I needed to dedicate the time and resources towards creating a space to recharge in. I realized I needed to ground myself first in order to be able to help more people.



  • Entryway/kitchen — Sherwin-Williams Dark Night  (#SW 6237)
  • Living room — Sherwin-Williams Cut The Mustard  (#SW 6384)
  • Bathroom — Sherwin-Williams Mint Condition  (#SW 6743)


  • Suzanne Sullivan for Anthropologie hooks
  • Llama Printed Canvas — Threshold – Target
  • Perch Biggy Magnetic Container — Container Store 


  • Wall Sconce — Threshold Target
  • Hudson Industrial Floor Lamp — Threshold  Target
  • Peekaboo Acrylic Coffee Table — CB2
  • Green Velvet Club Chair — Housing Works
  • Crosley C6 Turntable in Red — Overstock
  • Glass Shadow Box — West Elm


  • Stainless steel restaurant table — Webstaurant Store 
  • Devine Color Speckled Dot Peel & Stick Wallpaper in Black — Target
  • Keith Haring “Dancers” wall decals —  Blik
  • Le Creuset Classic Demi Tea Kettle in Flame – Le Creuset


  • Self-Adhesive Removable Wallpaper in Banana Leaf — Wallmurall on ETSY 
  • Sinnerlig Bamboo Pendant Lamp — IKEA
  • Ekby Alex Floating Desk/Shelf with Drawers – IKEA
  • Breeze Comforter —  Buffy
  • W1.27 Mattress – Wright 
  • Faux Fur Bed Runner – H&M
  • Assorted table lighting – Home Goods
  • Glass Shadow Box – West Elm


  • Faux succulent planter – Project 62 Target
  • Scarab guest towel – H&M

Thanks Ashley!