This Designer’s Cookie-Cutter Apartment Is a Colorful Cornucopia of Renter-Friendly Decor
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Kitiya Palaskas has built an enviable career around color. From paper, to embroidery, to textiles, collage, woodworking, sculpture, and more, she specializes in prop and installation design as well as DIY craft projects, photo shoots, illustrations, and video content for clients like Etsy, Pottery Barn, Lego, West Elm, Swatch, and even Lilly Allen. Her designs use handmade crafts that explode with color and energy. From her adorable felt and paper collage illustrations, to props like pinatas, to the cheeriest custom DIY projects, Kitiya’s portfolio is bursting with vibrant hues, inclusive designs, and a sort of warm and fuzzy feeling that makes you smile.
And the rental home she shares with her partner Matt (a signwriter whose signs and artwork can also be found throughout their home), manages to be as energizing and inspiring as her work, despite the fact that’s it’s a rental!
When you enter the colorful two-story townhouse, it’s a treasure trove filled with fun, art, books, and souvenirs collected during trips to Mexico and the U.S. It’s so personal and personable that it’s hard to imagine that it’s a rental. And though there’s nothing structural they can do to change the home’s look (and the beige tile floors aren’t exactly a favorite element), armed with 3M removable wall hooks and the couple’s styling prowess, they have filled their home with artwork, vintage furniture, and a few modern pieces.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: More is more! I am an avid collector of quirky and unique objects, textiles and art, and I love to display these around my house like a museum. My fiancé and I are both artists, so we make a lot of our own artwork and ornaments to decorate with. I am obsessed with vintage shopping and thrifting, so many of the things in our home are pre-loved and one-of-a-kind. We also collect a lot of art from our friends, and from local artists from the places we’ve traveled. In terms of style, I love a busy but curated space. It needs to be warm, comfortable, cozy, and functional, but it also needs to be visually appealing. The aesthetics of my immediate environment can directly affect my mood, so I like to be surrounded by beautiful, quirky and interesting things that stimulate my creativity and inspire me.
Inspiration: Mexican art and crafts, color, texture, patterns, tacky souvenirs, tropical barware, signwriting and typography, product packaging, curated collections (of which I have many different kinds), vintage and thrift shopping, plants.
Favorite Element: I love the back courtyard! When we moved in it wasn’t much to look at, just a cement space with a gray fence. But with the addition of plants, outdoor seating and a big table setting for outdoor dinners, it’s really quite a lovely space to spend time in, even in winter. And it gets sun all day long, which I love. In summer I spend a lot of time out there, sitting at the table under an umbrella to eat breakfast, drinking cocktails, admiring my cactus collection, and enjoying the tropical feel created from our neighbors’ huge old palm trees that hang over our fence.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping floor tiles clean! This is the first home I’ve lived in that’s been tiled throughout the entire downstairs area. Tiling the living room wouldn’t be my preference if I owned the house, but is very common in rental townhouses like this one. The challenge I continuously face is how to keep these highly reflective tiles smudge-free, especially with two cats. It doesn’t matter how many times you mop and polish them, those little paws walk across the room, and your hard work is ruined! That being said, we have managed to keep it cozy and cover most of the tiled surfaces with our collection of new and antique rugs. I guess it’s an excuse to buy more rugs, right?!
What Friends Say: Back in the day when we could have friends over (thanks COVID) we would always get comments on how our home feels like a bit like a museum because there’s so much to discover and look at. They also almost always comment how many plants we have. Friends have been known to say our house also feels cozy and homely, and also smells really good (maybe because we burn a lot of copal!)
Biggest Embarrassment: The exterior! Our house is a new townhouse so it’s not the prettiest from the outside. It’s quite cookie-cutter to be honest, and I’d love it to have a little more charm, but what the outside lacks in that department has been made up for on the inside in our styling.
Proudest DIY: Not actually a DIY that I personally completed, but I absolutely love all of our hand-painted signs. My fiancé Matt is a sign painter and when we moved in, he created a whole bunch of amazing custom signs for us to decorate the space with, inspired by things we love and our travels.
Biggest Indulgence: Our king-sized bed! After years of making do with hand-me-down beds or not having enough room to go up a size, we decided to invest in a really beautiful bed base (Koala) and mattress and some high quality linen bedding (Bed Threads) when we moved in here. As someone who doesn’t get much of it due to work, sleep is extremely important to me, and creating a peaceful and relaxing bedroom space is essential in my opinion for wellbeing and a good sleep routine. I think a lot of partners can also attest to the challenges of sharing a bed with someone that moves around a lot at night, and we’re both a bit like that, so having a king-sized bed feels so luxurious and spacious. Getting into my comfy and freshly made bed at the end of the day to read a book and wind down is my favorite part of the day!
Best Advice: You can make any house a home, rental or otherwise. Each space is a blank slate and it’s the vibe you create inside with furniture, art, and accessories coupled with your own personal style that truly makes it a home.
Dream Sources: My friends’ artwork, local art and craft markets while traveling, flea markets and vintage warehouses, Facebook Marketplace, small town op-shops (getting harder and harder to find gems these days but when you do it’s amazing), my parents (they have collected so many amazing things from around the world—every time they downsize, I swoop in!), Canberra Green Shed (it’s a reuse and recycling center which always has the BEST finds—I go there every time I visit my family)
- Side table — Vintage/thrifted
- Kit-Cat clock
- Stalls sign — Vintage
- Cat painting — Robert Shannon
- Tiger print — Joel Melrose
- “P” hand painted sign — Brett Piva
- All other hand painted signs — Matt Rhynehart
- Felt panther pennant — Kitiya
- Patchwork quilt — My Mum, a prolific crafter
- Noteable books — Some of my absolute favourites!
- Milk Bars by Eamon Donnelly
- Step Into Paradise — Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson
- Real Food — Martin Parr (my favourite photographer)
- El Super — Kurt Hollander (a book cataloguing and celebrating common supermarket Mexican products and their packaging)
- Kilim rug — Pakistan
- Antique Classical Greek vase — A family heirloom made in 1926 and passed down to me through the family
- Large painted planter pots — Hand painted by Matt Rhynehart
- Swizzle stick collection (I have collected these from all around the world over the last decade including USA, Mexico, South East Asia, New Zealand, and Australia)
- Green tiki mug set made by Tiki Farm
- Framed cocktail menu from The Commodore Brooklyn (I have had this since 2009. I Just loved the menu design so I took it with me and it’s been part of my home bar ever since)
- Large floor rug — Bunnings (an Australian hardware store).
- Dining table — Amart (an Australian mainstream furniture company).
- Framed photographs from our trip to Mexico — I’m obsessed with product packaging design and documented a lot of it when exploring the amazing markets throughout Mexico, and ended up framing some of my favourites.
- Beautiful square painting — Wokka Taylor, a Kulyakartu artist purchased through Martumili Artists
- Assorted tchotchkes — Mix of vintage finds, and collections from travels to Mexico, Bali, Hawaii, and other places
- Fridge details: Magnets — we collect one from every place we visit!
- Engagement photos — by Awkward Portraits https://www.awkwardportraits.com/ We went on a date to get some cheesy photos taken for Valentine’s Day and ended up using them as our engagement announcement photos. Sadly, Matt does not actually have a mullet, but a girl can dream 🙂
- Handpainted signs — Matt Rhynehart
- Pink tin mermaid skeleton — La Casa de las Artesanias de Oaxaca, (Oaxaca City, Mexico)
- Enamel splatterwear cake stand — Crow Canyon Home https://crowcanyonhome.com/
- Noteable cookbooks:
- Bake Australia Great & Katherine Sabbath Greatest Hits by Katherine Sabbath https://katherinesabbath.com/
- Mexico by Margarita Carrillo Arronte
- Hungry For That by Raph Rashid
- Glasswear — all vintage
- Woven plastic baskets from Oaxaca City, Mexico
- Vintage fruit packaging labels from my favourite place to shop for vintage homewares in Melbourne/the world — Waverely Antique Bazaar
- Kilim floor rug —Pakistan
- Large painting on glass — Billie Justice Thomson
- Floor and bed rugs — from Mexico (Oaxaca and Mexico City)
- Framed tapestry — vintage
- Framed Otomi embroidery — Oaxaca City, Mexico
- Framed photograph on floor — I took this at an abandoned craft market in Mexico City
- Bedding — Bed Threads
- Bed base — Koala
- Flamingo Park bag from the Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson exhibition ‘Step Into Paradise’ at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney Australia
- All other bags — vintage or from Mexico
- Hanging coat (I love displaying my most outlandish clothing pieces) — Lazy Oaf
- Fabric Hamper — Gorman Clothing
- Ice cream planter —Third Drawer Down
- Green planter pot (on bedside table) — Mr Kitly
- Basketball plant painting — Esther Olsson https://estherolsson.com/
- Plant stands and towels — vintage
- Hallway floor rug — Iran
- Everything in my studio — Where to begin?! Most props, objects and art by me, trinkets are vintage, randomly collected from all over the place, or from travels
- Custom neon sign — Designed for me by my fiance Matt Rhynehart
- Outdoor courtyard Alcapulco chairs — Found at the local reuse and recycling centre in Canberra, Australia — $3 each, score of the century!
Thanks Kitiya and Matt!