This Family of Five’s Small NYC Home Is Full of Smart Renter-Friendly and Storage Ideas
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I’m Megan Zietz, a content creator and designer living in NYC with my family. We found our apartment after a year-plus long search and initially passed it by a few times because it wasn’t EXACTLY what I wanted but we decided to go for it and make it our own.
We’re located in Astoria, Queens. We’re coming up on our 10th year in this area and love our neighborhood. We are homebodies so we spend a lot of time at home and I wanted to create a colorful and whimsical space that makes me happy when I see it, all.the.time.
As creative homebodies, we do a lot at home: We create home decor, DIYs and tutorials, occasionally dress up, and produce silly lifestyle videos with the entire family. We love cooking together, watching TV as a family, playing board games, and gardening in the backyard. It’s definitely a space that has BIG main character energy for all of the vibrant characters and personalities in the house, including the cats.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Colorful, Eclectic, Maximalist
Inspiration: I’m inspired by the ’70s, lots of color, and texture.
Favorite Element: My favorite element has to be our custom wallpaper in the entryway; I love that it’s the first thing you see and it sets the tone for the whole space. It’s fun, unique and a little retro.
Biggest Challenge: Since we’re renting, the biggest challenge was making sure everything we do (and have done) is “renter-friendly.” All of the wallpaper and backsplash is removable and reusable. As far as painting goes, take a weekend and a bucket of Kilz to paint back when it comes to moving out — it’s 100 percent worth it to not look at beige/taupe walls everyday. Other issues we’ve had are the odd dimensions and heights in places like the kitchen counter/island (we had to buy 30″ barstools), closets — our landlord is extremely tall and I’m 5’2″ so reaching hangers in my office closet requires either a jump or a stool. The kids’ bedroom was also tricky; they had glass mirror closet doors that were really hard to open and close so we decided to take them off completely and turned their closet into a “cloffice/workspace.” It really opened up their room and we just put the doors behind our wardrobes in the bedroom.
Proudest DIY: Proudest DIY has to be my pink floor-length fringe mirror in the entryway and black round ball mirror in my office. They were IKEA hacks and I loved giving them new life. I also love our blue IKEA BRIMNES bed and wardrobes.
Biggest Indulgence: Aside from the kids’ bunk bed, which is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our space, I’d have to say the KitchenAid mixer was my biggest indulgence. I put off buying it for years and finally bit the bullet and have never looked back. It’s amazing.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Aside from using our space as a backdrop for creating custom content for brands and our social platform, we really have made this our escape from the world. Outside it’s a busy street in Queens but inside it’s a colorful paradise where we have fun and spend time together.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? In addition to my all-time favorite, Rattan S Chairs (they’re so unique and have held up for six+ years against three growing, rambunctious kids), we just bought a hanging egg chair for the patio and I didn’t know what I was missing all of these years; it’s so comfortable and peaceful.
I also love all of the small details: the hanging metal planters in the living room, the Elnaz Ceramics serving bowl on the sideboard in the entryway, and David’s all-time favorite piece, the lava lamp; he loves it so much he named it Brick.
In the kids’ room, instead of a bulky TV we opted for a roll-down projector screen on the top of their closet so we can have movie nights on the big screen in their room. It saves a ton of space and is such a fun feature in their room.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Storage, storage, storage! With five people and two cats we need all the storage we can get, especially with limited closet and cabinet space. We’ve taken advantage of maximizing additional storage with baskets on top of the wardrobes and fridge, under furniture like the sideboards, and with tiered hanging fruit baskets — we have one at the entryway for masks, keys, and sunglasses and another one under an odd nook under the counter for cloth napkins, ready-to-use cleaning supplies, and other kitchen items. We also try to buy furniture that doubles as storage, like our velvet swivel chairs have compartments inside, as well as the metal drum side table/stools. The kids’ triple bunk bed even has storage drawers to organize their toys. While we are definitely maximalists we do try to avoid having a lot of unnecessary clutter laying around. Everything has a designated home and is organized as possible.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t be afraid of color and remember that decorating a home is a marathon not a sprint. Take your time and decide what you truly want and need instead of buying something on a whim and being tired of it six months later. When you can, upcycle pieces to give them a new life and don’t be afraid to buy used. Have fun with your space and don’t be afraid to make it your own, whether you’re renting or own.
PAINT & COLORS
- Living Room — Clare Paint “Rose Season”
- Entryway/Hallway — Clare Paint “Baby Soft”
- Kids Room — Clare Paint “Vacay” (ceiling) and “Nairobi Blue” (wall)
- Primary Bedroom — Clare Paint “Deep Dive” (Wall), “Goodnight Moon” (bed and wardrobes), “Matcha Green” ( Door) and Lick Paint “Purple 01” (Ceiling)
- Office — Clare Paint “Baby Soft” (walls) and “Vacay” (closet)
- Front Door — Lick Paint “Orange 04”
- Almo Sideboard — Castlery
- Paint Chip Rug — Annie Selke
- Shoe Cabinet — Sauder
- Hanging Basket — H&M
- DIY Fringe Mirror — kea
- Pink Rattan Chair — Hulahome
- Gio Task Light — Gantri
- Julian Pouf — Castlery
- Neon Light — Yellowpop
- Trinket Box —Curated Home Decor
- Elnaz Ceramics Serving Bowl — Anthropologie
- Disco Balls — Amazon
- Floyd Sectional Sofa
- Opalhouse Minsmere Media Stand — Target
- Madison Chair — Castlery
- Gwenyth Swivel — Joybird
- Glass Side Table — Sauder
- Threshold Drum Stool — Target
- Safety Net Rug (purple and rust) — Annie Selke
- Round Blue Rug and Pink Rug — RugsUSA
- African Juju Hat — Shavonda Gardner
- Black and White Throw Pillow — Missio
- All Other Throw Pillows — Annie Selke
- Basket Wall — Vintage
- Mirror — Tjmaxx
- Hallway Rug
- Absida Rug in Teal — Ruggable
- Twin Triple Bunk Bed With Ladder and Storage — Maxtrix Furniture
- Skinny Lockers in Mustard, Berry and Blush — Mustard Made
- Jonathan Adler Op Art Teal Rug — Ruggable
- Happy Go Lucky Bedding in Red and Teal — Annie Selke
- Jungalow x Opalhouse Pouf — Target
- Bean Bag Chair — MoonPod
- Keith Haring Neon Light — Yellow Pop
- “Sky and Sea” Art — Icanvas
- (Under Locker) Pom Baskets — H&M Home
- Floating Bookshelves — Umbra
- Kidkraft Dollhouse — Tjmaxx
- Opalhouse Tassel Velvet Curtains — Target (sold out)
- Metal Stools — Bed Bath Beyond
- Mirror — IKEA
- Leopard Rug — Amazon
- (DIY Boob Light with paint sample strips)
- “Octopus” — Flanzella
- Chinoserie Wallpaper — Limitless Walls
- Friends of The Sea Coral Wallpaper — Lust Home
- Round Mirror — IKEA DIY
- Klippan Sofa (custom cover) — IKEA
- Lily Pad Pals Pillows — Annie Selke
- Pink Chairs — Poly and Bark
- Tulip Table — Tov Furniture
- Arintzea Wall Sconce — Gantri
- Entry Rack — Open Spaces
- Jute Rug — Annie Selke
- Jelly Roll Rug — Annie Selke
- Brimnes Bed — IKEA
- Brimnes Wardrobe — IKEA
- Kenly Duvet — Annie Selke
- Rast Dressers — IKEA
- Sooner Than Later Runner (pink and blue) — Annie Selke
- Mirror — Target
- Globe Lights — Target
- Pink Chair — Hulala Home
- Baskets On Top of Wardrobes — TJMaxx
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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