Brooklyn Set Designer Colorful Rental Apartment

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Name: Tay and plant babies: Disco Ivy, Pepé, Monster, Gregg The Cactus, Prince, and Cro-esha!
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 700 square feet
Type of Home: One-bedroom apartment
Years Lived In: 2 years, renting

“One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with this apartment is because of its proximity to Tompkins Ave. and Herbert Von King Park,” explains Tay, who is a Black set designer, builder, and DJ. “These vital meeting grounds are so full of community and bliss. And more specifically Black community and bliss. It is not uncommon for one to hear passing greetings by old friends, music that fills the senses, and delicious aromas of nearby cookouts. Both of these spaces offer a meeting ground for varying generations of Black people to engage in a frequency of community peace and ease to just be and exist.”

Tay describes herself as an “audacious welder of dreamsscapes,” and that absolutely applies to the one-bedroom apartment she’s been renting for two years. Tay has filled the small home with bold colors, DIY art and decor, and tons of patterns and textures, all of which she uses to craft an incredible one-of-a-kind home. But she also uses color in an additional way in her apartment (which is available for short-term renting on Peerspace): Color-changing LED lights during the evening hours act as a form of light therapy, creating a multi-sensory “personal utopia” .”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Overall, my style is whatever brings me the most ease and peace at that moment. Right now it’s colors, colors, and more colors! So currently, my style can be best described as a box of Crayola crayons. As well as anything that has tons of variety in textures and patterns.

Inspiration: I love love loveeeee multi-sensory experiences and wanted my apartment to reflect just that. When I was creating and sourcing pieces for the space I gravitated towards things that could provide an interactive element. For me, it was important to center items that I could engage with because it’s like a form of therapy. Being able to come home, after being out and about all day and just laying on my fuzzy, blob-shaped rug or interacting with my flowery pom-pom lamp immediately helps me feel present in my body and at ease within my personal utopia.

Favorite Element: Laying on my couch under the clouds with my favorite white sage incense burning and the LED lights set to magenta and orange. I’d choose this scene as my favorite element because it’s where I feel the most full of gratitude and present in my being. Two things that bring me the most joy in life are: laying in the grass admiring the clouds and watching the sunset. It is ingrained in my being to find my utopia, and since I can’t always be outside I thought that I might as well bring the outside to me.

Biggest Challenge: Having a small budget towards decor for my space was initially a setback, but instead challenged and inspired me to create space for my own artistic creations. I was able to unlock a state of imagination that I had previously been afraid to tap into and just try. As I began to concept and build out varying objects/pieces for my space, my community continued to affirm my creations. This in turn fueled my imagination and made space for me to create even more.

Proudest DIY: My abstract “blob” rugs for sure! One of the very first concepts I had thought for my space was a dining area that featured a portal melting onto the floor. Being in a relatively small space, I wanted to get creative with how my living room and dining area could remain separate spaces. Because I only wanted to paint the wall and not the floor itself, I started brainstorming alternative materials. Abstract “blob” rugs came to mind to display the “melting effect,” but the market price of them did not match my budget at the time. Instead, I decided to try and make one myself and it worked!

Biggest Indulgence: My orange couch is probably the most expensive piece. It’s the first couch I’ve ever bought and I felt very accomplished and grown purchasing it (lol). Her name is Penelope and she is the ultimate nap zone.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Providing a safe and peaceful meeting ground for my friends is when my home is used at its most full potential. From birthday celebrations to impromptu movie nights, my space has held and hosted so many beautiful moments of love and solidarity experienced within my community.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The infamous hand chair! I am a biiiiiiig fan of the unconventional. Furniture pieces that reimagine and reinterpret what something “should” look like have my heart completely. These types of pieces remind me to audaciously imagine what is possible.

What most people get wrong about using color in their home: absolutely nothing. The only thing you could do wrong while trying to figure out what colors to incorporate within your space is not choosing the colors that inspire you the most. To not get it “wrong” just remember that it’s your space, nothing is permanent, and it can change whenever you want it to.

Describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Don’t be afraid to get a little funky when it comes to storage and let some of your additional items that don’t seem to have a home anywhere become a part of the decor.

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? Just do what you want. That’s really the only secret. Most of the painting within my apartment was done spontaneously out of inspiration felt in that moment. I had the concept for the space figured out but didn’t officially choose any colors until I stood in front of the wall of paint swatches.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My apartment is a world that makes sense to me. It’s a world void of any rigid lines, blueprints, or patrolled possibilities. My apartment is truly a love letter to my younger self. It reminds me to embrace and rediscover my child artist self everyday. It takes me into portals of my being that I never had the chance to meet and remind me of all that I am still capable of. This is my home… this is my sanctuary amongst it all. My best advice is to make your space a world that you actually want to live in. At the end of the day, who cares about the right color palettes or potential “clashing” patterns. You make the rules for your space and should go for anything that speaks to your inner world.

This piece is part of Color Month, where we’re showing you the best ways to inject more color into your home and life. From paint color combos to vibrant house tours, head over here to see it all.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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