AJ & Alex’s Eclectic Shabby Chic Queens Apartment

updated Apr 14, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: AJ, Alex, Ira (the pug) and Dudley (the cat)
Location: Astoria — Queens, New York
Size: 580 square feet
Years lived in: 9 months — rented

We got our first peek at Alex and AJ’s apartment when we pointed out their bedroom before and after. Now, the couple are sharing their entire apartment with us. With the scant 580 square feet they have to work with, AJ and Alex have packed a lot of whollop into their space.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

AJ and Alex cite beach houses and Woody Allen movies as their inspiration and I can see that in their home. The blue on the walls in the living room (Benjamin Moore’s Jamestown Blue) is as soothing as the sea and yet the contrast trim and mid-century furnishings are vintage city. I also totally love the impact of the wall of books in the living room. By squeezing the bookshelves next to one another along the length of the wall, the couple has created the look of a built-in.

I must say, though, the thing I like most about their apartment is that it feels like it’s imbued with the character of its inhabitants. From the quirky art (a rabbit portrait made entirely of dryer lint!) to the displayed collections, you get the sense that AJ and Alex (and little Ira and Dudley, too) really live here. And they manage to do so with style.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: An eclectic mix of vintage thrift, Mid-Century Modern, and shabby chic.

Inspiration: Blogs are a big one. Beach houses. Apartments in Woody Allen movies. Anything else our combined minds come up with.

Favorite Element: Our pair of Mid-Century chairs in the living room. They were a steal, and they look fabulous. Also, our bunny portrait that we picked up from a local artist while on a long weekend in New Hope, PA. It’s made entirely out of dryer lint and is always a conversation piece.

Biggest Challenge: Storage. We only have three relatively small closets in our entire apartment, and minimal kitchen storage. (Well, minimal for people who really like to cook.) So we have things hidden all over the place, and sometimes our closets can get scary, but we make it work.

What Friends Say: It feels clean, comfortable, and homey. We’ve had guests stay over that said they didn’t want to leave because when they woke up, they felt like they were on vacation.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our bathroom. If I could rip those pink, yellow and black tiles right off the wall, I would in a heartbeat. But alas, they are there to stay since we are renters. Also, the kitchen countertop and backsplash aren’t particular favorites–but they’re on my list of to-do DIY projects.

Proudest DIY: Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I do so many projects that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them all. I guess if I had to pick one it would be our transformation of the kitchen cabinets. They were dark brown, with dirty-looking black and gold handles when we moved in. After asking our landlord, we painted the cabinetry white, and spray painted the existing hardware with Rustoleum metallic silver spray paint for a budget-friendly update.

Biggest Indulgence: We do our best to keep our design costs down as much as possible. But every once in a while we’ll pick up something a bit ridiculous that we just can’t resist, like the fabulously decrepit-looking green plant stand in the living room. We bought it from an antique store in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Let’s just say that we could have kept ourselves surrounded by fresh cut flowers for quite a long time if we hadn’t decided to buy it.

Best Advice: Never think your place is “finally done.” To me, a home is a revolving door of ideas and inspiration. I am always changing things, moving furniture around, and editing, adding to and subtracting from the apartment. As soon as I feel like my work is done, that’s usually right about when I get my next idea.

Dream Sources: The unattainable Anthropologie furniture section. Restoration Hardware. Room and Board. West Elm (recently). Antique and thrift stores

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • Kitchen: Glidden – Sunbeam
    • Entry and Bathroom: Benjamin Moore – Ozark Shadows
    • Living Room: Benjamin Moore – Jamestown Blue (HC-148)
    • Bedroom: Glidden – Totally forgot the color and the can is long gone. (Sorry!)


    • Dresser: Ikea Rast/DIY
    • Fish Picture: Bowne and Co.


    • Sofa: Corona Sofa (Macy’s)
    • Bookshelves: Ikea
    • Rug: Ikea
    • Chairs: Thrifted
    • TV Storage: Target
    • Coffee Table: Housing Works/DIY
    • Framed photos above the couch: 826NYC Art Show
    • Accordion Lamp: Pottery Barn Teen
    • Lamp: Crate and Barrel
    • Side Table: Thrift



    • Bed: Ikea
    • Duvet: Divatex
    • Desk Shelving: Home Depot
    • Reading Chair: Ikea
    • Throw Pillow: West Elm
    • Desk: Thrifted
    • Dressers: Thrifted
    • Bird Bookends: L.L. Bean

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, AJ & Alex!

Images: AJ

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