This Small Chicago Rental Has Great Art, Removable Wallpaper, and Gorgeous Decor

published Apr 8, 2020

This Small Chicago Rental Has Great Art, Removable Wallpaper, and Gorgeous Decor

published Apr 8, 2020
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Name: Tola Akinbiyi and my cats Maximus and Celene
Location: Ravenswood — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years in the building, 7 months in this unit, renting

If any of my friends read this, they will not be surprised by this statement: I LOVE my neighborhood (Ravenswood) and want to grow old here. I’ve been in this building for five+ years now but got tired of the roommate life and knew it was time to find a new place. The rent in the building is unbeatable compared to everywhere else in the neighborhood, so I was saddened at the thought of having to leave in pursuit of budget-friendly rent. Then I realized I should probably just ask my landlord if there were any one bedrooms available. 

Credit: Bon Femmes

The unit is on the top floor, which was a definite plus for my glutes, but as soon as I walked into the unit and saw all the windows I knew I had to have it. I didn’t even do the responsible thing of checking the water pressure and whatnot, all I could think about was starting my plant haven. (The previous unit was at the bottom corner of the building so there was no direct sunlight, I could barely see the sky). When I moved in, I started noticing some oddities in the unit and was worried about the decision I made. One glorious night, I noticed a glow coming from my room. I’m pretty sure I asked out loud, “what the “f**k is that”? When I went to investigate, I realized it was a stunning full moon lighting up my room. I just stood there staring and smiling at it for like 10 minutes. At that moment I was certain this was a good move. Also one of my best friends moved into the building; it just keeps getting better!

Credit: Bon Femmes

Tola is the founder of Bon Femmes, a company which aims to celebrate and promote female artists. The Bon Femmes collection currently offers art prints, stationery, clothing, and more. Learn more on her Instagram account, @bonfemmes.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: This is tough for me because I don’t think I’ve figured that out yet and it shows haha. Each room has a different vibe, which is one of my favorite aspects of the apartment (perhaps my style is the lack of a distinct style). There’s a bit of boho, mid-century modern and contemporary vibes… heck, maybe even a bit Scandinavian? When searching for wallpaper for the bathroom I did have Palm Beach grandma in mind. Aside from that everything happened in a haphazard manner and what ties everything together is the fact that there are at least five plants in every room. 

Inspiration: I don’t think I have a specific source of inspo. However, I have a growing “Home” board on Pinterest. If I see something I save it immediately so I can remember which element of an image I want to incorporate in my home. 

Credit: Bon Femmes

Favorite Element: The lighting in the apartment is just spectacular, I have east-, west-, and south-facing windows. On a sunny summer day the sun wakes me up at about 6:30 a.m., a nightmare for most but heaven for me. Also the frame wall moldings in the kitchen are so beautiful.

Biggest Challenge: It’s an old apartment, which has design pros and cons. The walls can be a bit… sensitive and fragile, so command strips are very important to me. When I moved in there were a few cosmetic issues I had to work on. (Yes I know I could have contacted building maintenance but I love a good home repair project.)

Credit: Bon Femmes

Proudest DIY: The floating shelf in my room and the wallpaper in the bathroom. I used a level for the shelf in the living room but didn’t think to use a stud finder as well, so I might have simply gotten lucky with the placement hahaha. However, for the one in my room, I followed all the rules and put it up properly. 

The installation of the wallpaper in the bathroom was disastrous hahaha; I learned the hard way that the walls in my bathroom aren’t flat and the ceiling is not straight. It looks pretty good from afar but certain parts of it… aren’t great. 

Credit: Bon Femmes

Biggest Indulgence: Plants and art. I went a bit crazy on plants when I first moved in because the last unit had little natural light but now I only allow myself to buy one plant a month. #necessities 

I sell art so that indulgence is justified. It’s also super cool because it makes my apartment a rotating gallery. 

Credit: Bon Femmes

Best Advice (based off of mistakes I’ve made):

  1. Pay very close attention to measurements when ordering furniture online. 
  2. Try not to focus on trends because when the trend is over you might be over your place as well.
  3. Do what makes you happy and don’t base the look of your home on the opinion of others. I’m sure my home is not everyone’s cup of tea but it makes me pretty dang happy and that’s all that matters. 

What’s your best home secret? I have a mental list of things I do daily so my home never feels messy. (Example: make my bed, sweep, Swiffer, etc.) It took some getting used to but it makes a world of a difference in the cleanliness of your home. This way I’m able to work on fun projects on the weekend without worrying about the pile of dishes in the sink. 


Credit: Bon Femmes


Credit: Bon Femmes


Credit: Bon Femmes


Credit: Bon Femmes


  • TV Stand — Wayfair
  • Sofa — Wayfair
  • Mirror — Target
  • Rug — Wayfair
  • “Marble Top” Coffee Table — Wayfair
  • White Coffee/Accent Tables — La Cividina ( I got these for free! I used to work at a design showroom and free floor samples was a perk!)
  • Plant Basket — Wayfair
  • Pillows — All DIYed 
  • Armchair — IKEA
  • Glass Cabinet — IKEA
  • Paper Lantern Pendants: World Market — Swag Kit, Similar Pendant
Credit: Bon Femmes


  • Tray Table — IKEA
  • Kitchen Table & Chairs — Walmart. I got these like two years ago but I can’t find the link
  • Wall Shelf — Marshalls 
  • Triangle Bracket Wall Shelf — Urban Outfitters
Credit: Bon Femmes


  • Pink Chenille Blanket — Target
  • Large Pink Pillow — Target 
  • Sherpa Pillow Covers — Target
  • Bed Frame — Wayfair
  • Bedside Lamp — Target
  • Waste Basket — Wayfair
  • Lotion Dispenser — Target
  • Chair — Wayfair
  • Vintage Mirror — Sidewalk sale 
  • Frames — IKEA
Credit: Bon Femmes


Credit: Bon Femmes


From Bon Femmes: 

Thanks Tola!