A Small Brooklyn Apartment Is a Great Example of How to Decorate on a Budget

updated Nov 12, 2019

A Small Brooklyn Apartment Is a Great Example of How to Decorate on a Budget

updated Nov 12, 2019
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Name: Rachel Goss
Location: Flatbush — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 480 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, renting

“I work at a fast-paced tech company that can be stressful at times, so my goal was to create a space that would allow me to slow down and recharge,” explains Rachel Goss, who has been renting this apartment in Flatbush for six months. “Before moving to my apartment, I had never been to the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is filled with tons of greenery and lovely Victorian mansions. It’s a bit off the grid for some people, but that’s one thing I love about it.”

Credit: Chinasa Cooper

“I have a few creative outlets, but cooking is one of my favorites. Having people over is a fun excuse to try a new recipe or make something from scratch. I find myself spending a lot of my time at home taking long baths, listening to music, and writing. The art and objects I’ve collected over the years serve as my daily reminders that there’s still great stuff to explore outside.”

Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style:  Modern, muted maximalism—with a touch of humor and a tiny bit of Texas.

Inspiration: It’s a cliché, but New York City. You can see so many people and things in a given day—it’s a constant visual playground.  

Favorite Element: The bay windows were love at first sight. After moving in, I quickly became a morning person because of how much the space fills with light. And even though my commute is long, the walk through historic Ditmas Park never gets old.

Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Biggest Challenge: Budget. This was my first time living on my own since moving to New York—I didn’t have any furniture so had to start from scratch. Looking back, it was challenging to take my time but made me slow down and rediscover my own style. In the end, I’m glad I had to be more intentional about only buying things that would bring me joy. Waiting for something to go on sale or saving for a big purchase forces you to think about what you really need.

What Friends Say: Feels like you’ve lived here for years. Also, “Where is that from?”

Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Biggest Embarrassment: The under bed “storage system” I devised from leftover moving bags. It’s organized but incredibly ugly, which forces me to make my bed every day.

Proudest DIY: My plant wall and the shelf I found at a nearby yard sale, which I lugged home and painted with neon pink cats. I hung out in my dad’s garage growing up, so I enjoy getting my hands dirty and building things. DIY makes you feel more connected to your home—plus, it’s a great way to save money. Each project cost me less than $30. 

Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Biggest Indulgence: Fresh flowers once or twice a month.

Best Advice: Your space is for you! Think about who you want to be and how you want to feel when you’re in it. Consider thinking outside of the box before you buy and keep an open mind. My living room chairs are actually plastic outdoor chairs and some of my “artworks” are just found objects someone threw away that I brought home. 

If you’re renting, replace the light fixtures and minimize clutter as best you can—it will instantly make your space feel more elevated. The sputnik light in the bathroom was one of the few things I moved with and I rotate my tchotchkes in and out every couple of months so they all get their moment in the sun.

Credit: Chinasa Cooper

Dream Sources: Tyler Hays’s BBDW, Forty Five Ten’s interior design store at Hudson Yards, ABC Carpet & Home, outdoor flea markets everywhere


Credit: Chinasa Cooper


Credit: Chinasa Cooper


Credit: Chinasa Cooper


  • Kettle — West Elm, similar here
  • Cutting board — Vintage
  • Coffee mugs — Urban Outfitters
  • Glasses — IKEA, similar here
  • Dishes — IKEA
  • Blue and white planter — Vintage 
  • Shot glasses — From San Antonio and Eureka Springs
  • Cat dish — Vintage Japanese
  • Mouse cookie jar — Vintage, similar here
  • Baseball cards — Baseball Card Vandals
Credit: Chinasa Cooper


Credit: Chinasa Cooper


Thanks Rachel!

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