A Rental Apartment in Queens Is Gothic with a Dash of the Macabre

updated Mar 21, 2019

A Rental Apartment in Queens Is Gothic with a Dash of the Macabre

updated Mar 21, 2019
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Name: Rachel Waters
Location: Sunnyside — Queens, New York
Size: 850 square feet, one bedroom
Years Lived In: 1 year, renting

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Rachel has lived in NYC for seven years, previously in Kensington, Brooklyn. When it came to move, she looked at over 40 apartments throughout Manhattan and Astoria, but none were as good as this one-bedroom rental in Sunnyside, Queens: “850 square feet of arches, dining halls, and sprawling rooms with western exposures and a nighttime view of the the Manhattan skyline,” she wrote.

A writer, you can tell Rachel is good at telling stories by reading the responses of the house tour survey and viewing the combination of interesting and unique vignettes sprinkled around her home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: French colonial with a dash of the macabre; a.k.a. Gothic Jungalow.

Inspiration: I’m really inspired by the hotels of late 19th Century Indochina as well as dusty Victorian studies filled with books and curios.

Favorite Element: The plants, all 40 of them. I had an awful case of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) last winter, but by cultivating so much greenery, I managed to pull myself out of it. A close second would be my curio nook in the living room. The taxidermy (from The Oddities Flea Market) and antique medical lithographs (1856 originals from the Philadelphia Surgeon’s College) embody my lifelong fascination with zoology and medicine and contrast nicely with all the plant life.

Biggest Challenge: Installing the Victorian globe light in the living room. There was no ceiling fixture whatsoever, so measuring out the right placement, finding long chains and cords long enough for the swag, and making sure the plasterboard ceiling could hold the weight translated to a nerve-wracking project.

What Friends Say: People often say that stepping into the apartment feels like going on vacation. In NYC, it’s easy to feel a little trapped in the city and this space offers a nice respite from that.

Biggest Embarrassment: The white paint on the bathroom floor. It was made for garages/outdoor patio floors, but the pink and beige tiles underneath were too glossy, so it’s always chipping off. It’s also a pain to clean.

Proudest DIY: The mirrored coffee tabletop. I bought the table (West Elm) off Craigslist, but the mango wood top didn’t really fit the decor. After measuring the tabletop, I purchased an oval, flat-back mirror of the same dimensions off Amazon and, with a lot of muriatic acid and spray paint, antiqued the mirror to give it a more eerie effect. That said, much of my decor is DIY: from the white-painted chairs and kitchen cabinets, to the framed moss shadow boxes, to the Restoration Hardware dresser I purchased from Apartment Deco, which I stripped and refinished by hand.

Biggest Indulgence: The hammock chair in the living room. It wasn’t the most expensive item, but it feels luxurious. In the summer, there’s nothing better than coming home from work, opening the windows, and napping in the hammock while the breeze blows in.

Best Advice: DIY is your friend. So much of the furniture and decor in this apartment didn’t quite fit the color palette I wanted, so I did a lot of painting and refinishing by hand. A little chalk paint, some Rub ‘n Buff, and elbow grease added up to hundreds of dollars saved.

Dream Sources: Restoration Hardware, ABC Carpet and Home, the entire Flower District on West 28th Street, Oddities Flea Market, Craigslist.


Behr in Polar Bear for the entire apartment — Home Depot. Direct western exposures can make some colors look too yellow or orange, but this is the perfect shade of white that looks gorgeous and neutral no matter the time of day.

Mango Wood Entry Table — Home Depot
Cathedral Wall Mirror — eBay
Hieronymus Bosch Scenes from “The Garden of Earthly Delights” Prints — iCanvas

Adeline Sofa — Pottery Barn
Maharaja Chair — Home Depot
Antique Brass Bee Pharmacy Lamp — eBay
Antique Taxidermy — The Oddities Flea Market
Louis Metal Media Console — Ballard Designs
Victorian Globe Pendant Light — Wayfair
Hammock Chair — Amazon
NULoom Moroccan Area Rug — Overstock
Aspect Plant Light — Soltech Solutions

Pauwer Industrial Pendant Light — Amazon
Geometric Planters — Amazon

Antiqued Wall Medallion — Amazon
Bench — Passed down to me from my mom, made in 1970 in New York. I didn’t realize when I moved here from Georgia that I was bringing it home until I saw the vintage “Made in NY” sticker on the back.
Carved privacy screen, given to me by a friend
Restoration Hardware Glass-Front Cabinet — Apartment Deco
Deco Breeze Harrison Floor Fan — Hayneedle

Mounted Staghorn Fern — Hirt’s Garden
17th Century Plan of the City of New York Shower Curtain — Amazon

Thanks, Rachel!

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