A 500-Square-Foot Rental Features DIY Art, Including a Huge Piece Painted Using a Ketchup Bottle

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Credit: Natasha Natarajan
I live for the sunlight that streams in the early morning while I sit in my favorite corner and drink my cup of chai before heading to the hospital to round on patients.

Name: Natasha Natarajan and my partner, Bill
Location: Washington Heights — New York City, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
Everything is "bigger=better" in our apartment, and that goes for our TV as well! Coming from LA, my partner and I are both huge cinephiles and have been grateful for the home theater experience during this extended quarantine.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I moved into this adorable one-bedroom apartment with my partner in Washington Heights when I started medical school at Columbia University. The apartment has everything a New Yorker wants: a dishwasher, in-unit laundry, hardwood floors, and four massive closets! It is a smaller size than we were used to in California, but perfectly matches the needs of our lifestyle. We’ve also come to love our Washington Heights neighborhood for its vibrant and welcoming sense of community. This is the first time we have ever been friends with all of our neighbors in the building!

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
This side of the living room greatly contrasts the couch side with more tiny bursts of color and intrigue. The dining table is one that has been in my family since I was 12 years old. I fondly remember my childhood doing algebra homework and eating family dinners at this table. Now it is with me in New York where I study for medical board exams and host dinner parties at this table.

This apartment was the first home I moved in together with my partner and an opportunity for us to start building something that was equally each our own. Through picking out furniture pieces and contributing custom art to the walls, we’ve only just begun to build our collective design sense and create something truly collaborative.

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
This tiny desk has seen a lot of action since the start of the pandemic. WFH FTW!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Modern, Geometric, Warm, Artsy, Cozy

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
Our living room, the center of the home. The art hanging above the couch is a product of my frustration of not being able to find a piece online that fit my vision. One trip to the art store and a free afternoon later, out came this piece. It is inspired by a similar geometric artwork hanging in my cousin's apartment and I like knowing that our homes are connected in this way.

What is your favorite room and why? The living room, with the massive teal velvet sectional, steals the whole show! It is the perfect showcase of my partner and I’s blended design vision. He loves muted colors and mid-century modern design. I love warm and bright accents. And together we picked this bright teal sectional with a clean and structured modern frame.

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
Last Christmas, my partner's sister gifted us this hand-embroidered pillow she made that resembles a picture of us sharing a milkshake. She took the photo, created a heat map version on photoshop, traced it onto a pillowcase, and embroidered it for months. It is the most valuable possession in our apartment.

As a computer programmer and healthcare professional, it was important to us that our home is a place where we could express ourselves. I would not normally call myself an artist, but this apartment has allowed me to tap into my creative side and switch out a scalpel for a paintbrush. I painted the main art piece hanging in the living room after searching for something similar online for months.

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
For a while, the wall behind our bed was bland and beige. Then Apartment Therapy posted this great story of a designer who used a ketchup bottle and a sample of paint to make a fun mural of paint drips on her walls. We were inspired! We spent our Valentine's Day weekend with a fun couple's project where we painted a wall-sized piece of canvas black and attempted similar paint drips. I love how it turned out and how it draws your eyes to the bed. This is just one example of how AT creates a community that allows people to inspire each other!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The gold crushed velvet pillow in our bedroom from West Elm.

Credit: Natasha Natarajan
The gallery wall is a reflection of our mixed cultural home. I especially love the portraits made by our family and friends. My brother, a budding animator, created the abstract geometric digital print of us. My classmate from my Master's in Stem Cell Biology program created the watercolor portrait.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Follow your gut instincts! Everyone told me that buying this massive couch would overwhelm my small living room when in fact it actually opened up the space and made it feel larger. Similarly, people expressed their doubts of painting a large black mural for the bedroom thinking it would make it darker and smaller when it really ended up brightening the space. Listen to your heart and be bold! As they say, go big or go home (to your small apartment).

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