An Actor and Thrift Expert's 500-Square-Foot Queens Studio

An Actor and Thrift Expert's 500-Square-Foot Queens Studio

I had this illustration from Virginia Lee Burtons, "The Little House," blown up at Staples and made the frame myself. It's a DIY piece that no one else has in their home, and everyone comments on it when they visit. It's maybe my favorite piece of artwork.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

Name: Wade Dooley
Location: Jackson Heights — Queens, New York
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

I'm an actor/writer and self-proclaimed thrifting expert living in Jackson Heights, Queens. I believe that every item in your home should tell a story, and I also believe that you don't have to drain your bank account to do it. On my touring adventures with work, it's fun to find things to add to my home and wardrobe that remind me of a place I've visited. From glassware in Phoenix, Arizona, to dead stock, vintage table linens in Springfield, Missouri, I love being reminded of memories on the daily.

I love this nook. It's a great place to sit and write. The artwork is all thrifted except for the handmade embroidered "FUCK CANCER" hoop by @alwaysinastitch.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

Beyond items I've found, I have a lot of stuff from family including blankets my great-grandmother and mom made, lamps from my grandmother's basement, and the old trunk we used to keep board games in when I was kid. It was important to me to build a unique environment that other people wouldn't be able to buy at just any home store. It's a place I can relax, but it also keeps my creative mind going.

I love those black-and-white concrete tiles, but they are so expensive. I used a stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils and achieved the same look for a lot less. I also added storage with this mid-century hutch and a Hoosier cabinet that I found on Letgo.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)
This bathroom used to be maroon and peach. Now, it's white and clean. I love the touch of nature with plants in the shower and river rock in my sink.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

Describe your home's style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, funky, vintage, modern, warm.

My bedroom is framed with black velvet drapes that I made and tie back with old leather belts from the Goodwill. My bedspread is a thrifted, handmade piece and the headboard is made from an old door I purchased for five dollars.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

What is your favorite room and why? I love my living room/bedroom. Most nights you can find me on my green sofa, writing, watching TV, or listening to records. It's a very relaxing room with warm lighting and colors. I think it makes a statement and people know that I live there when they look around.

I've always eyed those Mid-century wall units, but I couldn't afford one. So, I made my own with real wood from Home Depot and the Rubbermaid shelving that I decided to spray gold.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I have been creative with storage, but as a bit of a clothing whore, I wouldn't mind a walk-in closet. Maybe I should ask Mr. Big what contractor he used?

This was once a foyer, and now it's my dining room. I got the chandelier for free from the basement of a theatre.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

What's the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I added to my home was the dining room table. I made it from a slab of Maple at Big Reuse in Brooklyn. If you haven't visited Big Reuse... make it a priority. It's a salvage/thrift shop with great prices and an even better staff. They have dishes, furniture, artwork, lumber, and more. I had this piece cut down especially for the space, added some poly, and attached some legs I found on Amazon. The chairs are vintage folding chairs from a poker table from Craigslist. It's another way to bring the outside in, and it's just big enough to sit five people for dinner.

If you haven't already guessed, more is more in my house. More color. More pattern. More tchotchkes. Can't stop. Won't stop.
(Image credit: Alberto Gomez Giaimo)

Any advice for creating a home you love? You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a home that you love. Between thrift shops, Craigslist, Letgo, Apartment Therapy's Marketplace, and more you can find gently used items to fit any aesthetic. And don't feel overwhelmed, use a resource like Pinterest to start imagining your dream space. Then, challenge yourself to do it cheaper and second hand. The environment will thank you and so will your savings account.

Thanks, Wade!

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