Paint and Peel-and-Stick Tile Have Brought This Small “Blank Slate” Queens Rental to Life

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Orange living room leading into kitchen
Credit: Billie Michael
These three big windows fill the living space with natural light.

Name: Billie, boyfriend, and cat Olive
Location: Astoria, Queens, New York City
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

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Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: During the pandemic, when we found ourselves spending so much time at home, my boyfriend and I (and our cat Olive) decided it was time to move out of our cramped and slightly dingy apartment.

Credit: Billie Michael
Our tiny kitchen, featuring peel and stick tile backsplash.

We found this one-bedroom place, which felt like a definite upgrade. It was cleaner, brighter, and more open, with big windows that faced the street instead of the building next door. It was definitely kind of a blank slate, though, since it also had white walls, white cabinets, and not much personality. Lots of paint and peel-and-stick tile have really brought it to life and made it our own. Nothing in our apartment is expensive, either. Our furniture and decor is a mixture of accumulated thrift-store finds and stuff from Wayfair, Target, IKEA, and so on.

Credit: Billie Michael
Our living room puts our things on proud display.

As a designer and illustrator, I really enjoy curating my space to be as fun and colorful as possible. I like to fill it to the brim with stuff that my boyfriend and I love, from tasteful to tacky: old Halloween decor, vintage thrift-store finds, B-movie posters, a Big Mouth Billy Bass. It’s all on proud display!

Credit: Billie Michael
I adore this thrifted tapestry throw hanging in our bedroom!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, warm, and maximalist.

Credit: Billie Michael
One of my favorite areas is my desk, featuring an IKEA pegboard that I painted to match the walls.

What is your favorite room and why? The bulk of our apartment is one open space that includes the living room, my office space, and the kitchen. We have three big windows that get lots of natural light, and the whole area seems to glow when the sun starts to set. I tried to strategically place furniture to divide up the “rooms,” so the couch defines the living room from my workspace and a table separates the kitchen, while also providing much needed counter space.

Credit: Billie Michael
I recently added some peel-and-stick wallpaper from Etsy to our bathroom for a little more color.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t let renting stop you from making a space your own. I might not be in this apartment forever, but the cost and time of painting or putting up peel-and-stick tile is more than worth it to me. I enjoy my space every single day.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.