This Cute, Small Toronto Apartment Is PACKED with Brilliant Budget Renters Solutions

updated Mar 12, 2021

This Cute, Small Toronto Apartment Is PACKED with Brilliant Budget Renters Solutions

updated Mar 12, 2021
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Alexandra Gater
Location: Toronto — Ontario, Canada
Size: 860 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

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Alexandra is a millennial, design lover, and YouTuber with a passion for helping fellow millennials (and others!) make their spaces comfortable, stylish, and feel more like home—even if they rent! Her ultimate goal? To help people get creative in order to cultivate a space that feels like home. Living in rental spaces can sometimes be tricky to decorate because of various limitations—the size of the space, layout, and preferences of landlords and the renter’s budget.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

“I was inspired to start my budget decorating series at the magazine after I had heard from so many of my friends who rented that they didn’t want to put time or money into their rental because they felt it was a temporary living space,” explains Alexandra. “But with so many more millennials not able to afford to buy homes in big cities, it got me thinking—is a home really temporary if you’re living there for more than five years? My channel is all about small decorating solutions you can make to your space to make it feel more like home—from painting your closet door a fun color, to covering your outdated kitchen backsplash with temporary peel-and-stick tiles, or switching out the knobs on your furniture. I really believe you don’t have to pour a ton of money into your rental to make it feel a little homier than a temporary living solution.” 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

And how does Alexandra tackle the biggest hurdle to decorating a rental: How to get your landlord’s OK? “I always send my landlord items that I’m going to replace if I’m making permanent changes (like installing a new sink),” she begins. “I also keep all of the old fixtures, so that when I move out, I can take all of the decor I’ve added to the space (like new light fixtures and curtain rods) with me and re-install the older items that came with the apartment. I’m also all for buying pieces that you can take with you home-to-home. I’m not advocating pouring a ton of money into a rental space, but instead buying items you know you’ll have for years to come that you can bring with you when you move onto your next space.”

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

It’s all solid rental advice, from someone with a lot of expertise. With a degree in journalism, Alexandra started her career at Chatelaine magazine in Toronto where she worked her way up to Home Editor overseeing the entire home section of the magazine. During this time Alexandra started a video series called “The Home Primp” where she made over spaces on a budget. Over the span of a couple of years the series evolved into her current project and is now her full-time job. Alexandra was nominated by Maxwell Ryan (founder and CEO of Apartment Therapy) as part of Apartment Therapy’s Class of 2020 Design Changemakers, 20 people in the design world everyone should know about by next year. For more design tips and see some of Alexandra’s makeovers, you can visit her Youtube channel.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Boho, eclectic, girly 

Favorite Element: The treetop deck and the skylight in the kitchen. When the moon is full, it streams though the skylight and pools on the floor in the middle of the night. It’s one of the most magical, quirky things. In the summer, the deck turns into a jungle and that’s why I call my apartment The Treehouse. It feels like you’re floating in the trees—I love reading on my outdoor sectional and listening to streetcars pass down below me. 

Biggest Challenge: Figuring out how to work with an old Victorian house and all the quirks that come with it—like walls that aren’t straight and crumble when you drill into them! 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

What Friends Say: Everyone always comments on the amount of light the apartment gets, and it’s one of the reasons I feel so happy and at peace in this space. Even on the gloomiest days, it’s still bright in here. 

Biggest Embarrassment: The layout is a bit strange in that you have to walk through my bedroom to get to the bathroom. So I always have to make my bed and put away my laundry or else guests see it all! 

Proudest DIY: Turning my living room storage closet into my home office! 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Biggest Indulgence: My king-sized bed. Even with a double, I couldn’t fit side tables in this little nook so I thought I’d go all out and fill it entirely with a king-size bed. I’ll never go back. It feels like I’m sleeping in a hotel bed every night. 

Best Advice: Pick decorative items that you love, without worrying too much about fitting into one particular style. Once you start decorating with items that you love, you’ll start to develop your own unique style, instead of trying to fit into a perfect Pinterest image. I also found that it took me about six months to get everything in this space just right and I truly believe that’s because you really have to live in a place for a while to understand it and find the right solutions for your daily needs.


Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • Kitchen cabinets — Benjamin Moore “White Dove”
  • Bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room walls — Benjamin Moore “Simply White”
  • Bedroom closet door — Benjamin Moore “Southern Comfort” 
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • SKOGSTA bench — IKEA
  • Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Seagrass Basket with Leather Handle — Target
  • Dmat Demi Oh Hi Doormat — Now Designs
  • STOCKHOLM mirror in walnut — IKEA
  • Plant basket and stand — HomeSense 
  • Days in Paris art print — Minted
  • Mudcloth Lumbar Pillow — Ten and Co.
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • Zaragoza Vintage Velvet Couch Cover in colour Clover— Bemz  
  • Project 61 + Leanne Ford Natural Woven Tripod Floor Lamp — Target 
  • Ivory Diamond Textured Trellis Tassel Area Rug — Rugs USA
  • Forma Sunrise Pink Chair — Article
  • LAPPLAND Tv Storage Unit — IKEA
  • Gold Pouf — Baba Souk
  • FADO table lamp — IKEA
  • Boys by Helena Ravenne art print — Printable Concept
  • Wood side table — HomeSense 
  • Dining table — Thrifted 
  • Pom pom throw blanket — From the markets in Marrakech 
  • Pink blanket — From the markets in Marrakech 
  • Throw cushions — Target, H&M Home, HomeSense 
  • Rattan Dining Chairs — Shop Casa Chic
  • Round Cushion with Pompoms — H&M Home
  • Power Art Print by Subliming — Society6
  • Pining for Pineapple by Joni Tyrell — Minted
  • Leap sconce lamp — Article
  • Tall metal vase — H&M Home
  • Bird cage light (has now been discontinued) similar — Etsy
  • Neon Pink Heart — Banquet Atelier & Workshop 
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • Peel and stick banana leaf wallpaper — Etsy
  • Ekby Alex shelf with drawers — IKEA
  • Inspired Ottoman with Gold Base — Lowe’s
  • Modern Mid 1-Light Globe Pendant — Amazon
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • Hex knobs — CB2
  • Metro Ava peel and stick tiles — The Smart Tiles  
  • Hearth And Hand with Magnolia Blue Grid Stoneware Pitcher — Target 
  • Havsen apron front sink — IKEA
  • Q Solutions Natural Herringbone Straight Cut Kitchen Countertop — Lowe’s
  • Marca Single-Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Kitchen Faucet with ShieldSpray Technology in Champagne Bronze — Delta
  • Drawer pulls — Anthropologie (no longer available)
  • Matte Black Collapsible Drying Rack — CB2
  • Threshold Measuring Cup Set — Target
  • Pomegranate Salt & Pepper Shakers — Anthropologie (no longer available) 
  • News Flash by hi-lighter inc. art print — Minted
  • Opalhouse Water Hyacinth Fringe Basket Natural — Target
  • Smith & Hawken Stainless Steel Watering Can — Target
  • Le Creuset French Press in colour Bonbon — Le Creuset
  • Tea Towel Citrus Orange — Ten and Co.
  • Kettle — HomeSense 
  • Opalhouse Tan Striped With Poms Woven Fringed Accent Rug — Target (no longer available) 
  • BEKVAM step stool painted in Southern Comfort — IKEA
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • Handmade Tassels — Cambie Design
  • Pompom Basket — Baba Souk
  • Pom pom slippers — From the markets in Marrakech 
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • CWI Lighting Arya 18-inch 8 Light Wall Sconce with Satin Gold Finish — Home Depot Canada
  • Umbra Mira Wall Mirror — Amazon
  • Female Support System Brass Hook — Kaye Belgvad 
  • LILLÅNGEN wall cabinet — IKEA
  • Bath mat (no longer available) — Urban Outfitters 
  • Summer Sun Home Art Peaches Art Print — Society6
  • Youngever Amber Glass Pump Bottles — Amazon
  • Pom pom basket — HomeSense 
  • Hanging planter — HomeSense 
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • Pots & hangers — Crate & Barrel 
  • Feit Electric 30 ft. 15-Light LED String Light Set — Home Depot Canada
  • Daisy Lounge Chair — Article
  • Latta Slate Gray Dining Table — Article (no longer available) 
  • Caua Verbena Pink Dining Armchair — Article
  • Ora Slate Gray Sectional — Article
  • Tea light holder, throw cushions — H&M Home
  • Coffee table, rug — HomeSense 
Credit: Lauren Kolyn


  • As If print — Printable Concept
  • Sinnerlig pendant lamp- IKEA
  • White pouf — HomeSense 
  • Pink rug — H&M Home (no longer available) 
  • Shell Headboard — Make Moves Vintage
  • Andover Mills Maxen Platform Bed — Wayfair
  • Eider & Ivory Aiden Duvet Cover Set — Wayfair
  • Makers Collective Kahelo Reversible Quilt Set — Wayfair
  • Eye mirror — From the souks of Marrakech 
  • Pink chair — HomeSense 
  • Rainbow bookend — H&M Home 
  • Gold Flying Piggy Bank — Paperchase
  • Purple pedestal bowl — HomeSense
  • Dresser — thrifted 
  • Laundry basket — HomeSense 

Thanks Alexandra!