A 550-Square-Foot Rental Refresh Features Contact Paper, Floor Cushions, and More

published Jan 4, 2021

A 550-Square-Foot Rental Refresh Features Contact Paper, Floor Cushions, and More

published Jan 4, 2021
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Square feet
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Name: Amarachi Ukachu, and Zulu (a 1-year-old Bichpoo)
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, renting

Mental health professional, content creator, and fashion influencer Amarachi N. Ukachu says working in mental health can be very stressful and mentally taxing, and why she prioritized relaxation when it came to decorating this New Orleans rental home. “I wanted to create a space for myself that felt like I was on vacation whenever I walked in the door,” she describes of the small cottage she rented for five years. Surrounded by lush greenery inside and out, it’s not just a lovely space to look at—there are lots of renter-friendly decor solutions, too.

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For example, Amarachi covered the rental kitchen cabinets with copper-colored contact paper and applied marble contact paper to the counters. She also installed a rich, blue-green peel-and-stick backsplash to the back wall. The result is a highly personal kitchen that looks like a million bucks, and definitely doesn’t look like a drab or standard rental. With only 550 square feet to work with, she also had to be intentional and creative with furniture choices: individual pieces had to be multi-functional or offer extra storage space. And instead of skimping on comfort and settling for a small sofa that would fit her compact living room, she instead splurged on a set of floor pillows to create the ultimate lounge retreat.

“My personal space is very important to me. This is where I meditate, detach, relax, treat myself well, and do my best thinking,” Amarachi admits. “It is also where I work, create, and get in touch with my purpose. I entertain every now and then, but I enjoy solitude. You’ll find me reading on the balcony in my swing chair or relaxing in the lounge room while listening to my unwind playlist with a glass of wine or two.”  

Amarachi had to say goodbye to this tropical bohemian oasis, and has recently moved to Los Angeles. “It was not in my six-month, one-year, or five-year plan to leave New Orleans,” she wrote on her popular Instagram account. “Or better yet, move halfway across the country during a global pandemic. But y’all know what they say ‘We plan, God laughs.'” But if her small New Orleans rental apartment is any indication, her new place will also be a stunning, cozy, relaxing home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Boho, Tropical

Inspiration: Northern Africa, Plants, Color Psychology

Favorite Element: I love how my cottage is tucked away from the everything. The overgrow gardens makes it feel like I’m in my own tropical oasis. My favorite indoor element are the French doors leading to the balcony. They bring in so much natural light for my plants.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was having enough seating in my tiny living room. My living room is so small and bulky furniture like a couch can really constrict the living space. I tried a normal-sized couch, which was too large for the space, then later swapped the couch for a loveseat, which did not offer much seating for guests. I eventually began looking into nontraditional seating ideas and created my living room seating with 18 floor cushions from World Market.

Proudest DIY: I revamped the kitchen by adding peel and stick tile to the backsplash. I also covered the kitchen cabinets and counter with copper and marble contact paper.

Biggest Indulgence: Removing the carpet upstairs and installing engineered wood.

Best Advice: I’m a full believer in color psychology. Color psychology suggests that every color has a psychological value. Think about how certain colors make you feel; they can influence any emotion. So when selecting colors for your home take a deeper look at interior colors and how they can influence your mood and/or thoughts. 

What’s your best home secret? Due to the lack of storage space in the cottage I put multiuse furniture and decor throughout the apartment to create additional storage. (Baskets on the wall double as storage space and decor, and the coffee table is also used for storage.)



  • Antique Gold Wall
  • Valspar — Metallic Brilliant Metal Effects Gloss Gold
  • Martha Stewart Art Paint — Copper Metallic
  • Rust-oleum Metallic Finish — Metallic Rose Gold



  • Swingasan Chair – Pier1
  • Opal House Peacock Rattan Chair – Target




Thanks Amarachi!

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