A Vibrant NYC Rental Squeezes Tons of Color and Pattern into a Small Space

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Name: Maggie Antalek
Location: Lower East Side — New York, NY
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 700 square feet
Time lived in: 6 months, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: When my lease was up on my apartment this past May, I knew it was time to jump on the NYC pandemic deals before the city became swamped with people again. I was ready to move in by myself after my former roommate spent much of 2020 away from the city. I got used to the space being my own. Last summer I was laid off from my events job and was forced to figure out something else for work.

I started my mural and interior decorating business around this time last year, only months after being featured by Apartment Therapy the first time and had so many people reach out asking if they could pay me to help them with their spaces. I couldn’t be happier with how this year turned around my career. I was able to use this new apartment as a blank canvas for bold murals and DIY projects to make the space my own. Now I’ve helped design so many clients’ homes, created stunning murals in their spaces, but my own space will always be my favorite — my safe haven, my little slice of paradise, my constant inspiration to continue building my creative business.

I definitely identify as someone who is not afraid of color — in my clothing, my artistic pursuits, my cooking, and of course, home decor. Colors make me happy! I’ll simply never be a “minimalist” who focuses on black and white. I love orange. I love pink. I love rainbows. I love metallics. I guess I could even consider myself a maximalist. I have plants, decor, art, color, fabrics, and glassware on display all over my apartment. I like having pretty things around and I like for them to be on display. Maybe one day I’ll have a big house and my pretty things can be more spread out, but for now, I wouldn’t change it.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Vibrant, eclectic, colorful, lively, and joyful

What is your favorite room and why? My living room. It’s on the front side of the building, which gets all the natural light. Its east-facing windows are flooded with bright morning sunshine, which is wonderful for enjoying my coffee before starting my day. I painted a pink sunset mural on one wall and the room is sprinkled with many plants, bringing so much life and green into the space. I have a bold patterned rug and pillows that pull in even more colors, and a couple of mirrors on that wall that bounce even more light and make the space appear bigger. I love working in this room at my convertible drop leaf table or lounging on my thrifted CB2 sofa that’s perfect for movie nights and afternoon naps. This room, simply put, makes me happy.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I bought an awesome shower curtain from Urban Outfitters. I had a really cute one with leopards on it when I first moved in, but the yellow on my walls and on the curtain didn’t match so I was happy when I found this one. It goes well with the Urban Outfitters bath mat that says “get naked” I have right below it.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My advice to people is always to NOT be afraid of committing — to colors, to artwork, to nailing into the walls, to displaying decor, or collecting from local artisans or vintage shops. I think so many people never end up hanging up artwork or painting their walls because they’re afraid to commit, but the thing is, you can ALWAYS make changes. Your space can evolve as you grow and change. You can hang a frame, and if you hate the placement in two weeks, you can spackle the hole and move it elsewhere. If you paint your walls a color you are sick of in a year, just paint it again. I know it’s not always that easy, but I’m a firm believer in following that gut instinct and committing to decorating with items and colors that are you drawn to.

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