A Bold Brooklyn Rental Features One of the Coolest DIY Tile Backsplashes We’ve Ever Seen
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Name: Christine Han and partner
Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
Size: 1000 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years lived in: 1 year, renting
Christine Han, a Korean-American recipe developer and food blogger who founded the blog Dear Saturdays, says she and her partner were on the hunt for more space when they found this 1000-square-foot Williamsburg rental. “I was previously living in a one-bedroom apartment, and as my lease was coming to an end last year, I felt a tug to consider looking for a home with more space to help separate work vs. living since I anticipated spending more time at home with work becoming fully remote,” she writes.
“I wasn’t able to see the apartment in person before signing the lease, but I was drawn to its unique pre-war characteristics and saw that it had tons of potential. I loved that the apartment was a lofted space with high ceilings, exposed brick, big windows that filled the space with natural light, an open kitchen, and of course, a home office,” Christine explains. “It also fell right into my budget and checked off all of my boxes, so I pulled all the stops possible to secure it. The rental market was super competitive at the time since a ton of people were moving back into the city so I dug for the direct phone number of the broker and sent over an email and a cover letter (as you would for a job) introducing myself and my rental/credit history. Luckily, I was selected!”
But while the apartment had a lot of elements in the “pros” column, there were a few cons -like mismatched IKEA cabinets, stained countertops, a dirty oven, and a broken sink — and the couple had to get creative to tackle a budget renovation, which Kitchn featured in a Renovation Diary post. The entire kitchen budget was impressively small (it all only cost about $2100) but the star of the entire space may just be the creative solution the couple came up with for the kitchen’s backsplash — a one-of-a-kind mosaic tile pattern that only cost them $137).
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I’d say something like “Rustic Eclectic” sounds right to me?
Inspiration: I used to work in Paris and opted to stay in Airbnbs instead of using corporate housing. I was inspired by how the homes I stayed in told a rich story about the host’s character, unique personality, and style without saying a word or meeting them in person. I used the apartments I stayed in as a reference point for how I hoped to set up my apartment.
I also love shopping at consignment stores, flea markets, and Facebook Marketplace so whenever I find unique statement pieces, I use them as a focal point and build the space around it.
Favorite Element: I love that the big windows and tall ceilings fill the apartment with a gorgeous light in the morning. Whenever I wake up in the morning, I’m always in awe of it… it’s definitely serotonin-inducing.
Biggest Challenge: The building is over a century old, and because of that, there’s been challenges with the older fixtures and worn floors in the apartment. For dated fixtures like the window, toilet, sink, and original oven, I first asked the landlord to replace them. So far, they’ve changed out the windows — which is a score! For other things like the floors, I rolled up my sleeves and did a deep cleaning and ended up covering the floors with rugs and mats.
Proudest DIY: Hands down, renovating the kitchen — more details in the Kitchn story!
Biggest Indulgence: The sofa. I usually purchase everything second hand or discounted, but I had the hardest time picking out the right sofa and it was taking forever. I ended up splurging on the sofa out of mental exhaustion and for that, I think it was worth it to pay the full price.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The kitchen doubles as a home kitchen and space to experiment/develop recipes for my blog.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Kitchen:
- I love the dual oven range from KitchenAid that I scored on Facebook Marketplace. I can test two baking recipes at once, and the stovetop burners have multiple sizes that give more flexibility when cooking.
- I use these neat anti-fatigue foam mats from House of Noa that come in different patterns and colors — also great for covering up old floors.
- KwangJuYo — tableware made using traditional Korean pottery techniques
- The Laundress scented vinegar & Santal 33 laundry detergent
- The Bissel Powerfresh steam mop for deep cleaning floors
- Method’s Yuzu dish soap — it’s effective and the scent is divine
- I love Apotheke, a Brooklyn based candle company — specifically their charcoal reed diffuser. It’s a luxurious woody scent that I use year-round and associate it with the scent of my homes in Brooklyn.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have:
- Instead of storage containers and cabinets in the kitchen, I use a floating shelf, racks, and a pegboard to display my favorite spices, ingredients, cookware. It can look cluttered really quick, so it’s helpful to be deliberate on the essentials and Marie Kondo the rest.
- Yamazaki Home also has aesthetic racks for stacking and storing dishware — they’ve been a lifesaver for maximizing limited cabinet space
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice?
- Find a theme, memory, or experience that is personal to you and use it as a starting point to draw references/inspiration from. Pinterest’s algorithm is great at suggesting adjacent references to build up a mood board.
- Facebook Marketplace for saving money and buying secondhand
- Visit consignment shops and open markets in new cities / countries
PAINT & COLORS
- Kitchen Cabinets — Valspar “Cactus Shadow”
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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