A tiny-apartment dweller showed us the rental-friendly hacks and DIYs she used to upgrade her 450-square-foot home

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A tiny apartment renter upgraded this bathroom with vinyl stickers, paint, and houseplants. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

  • Carly Fuller and her partner rent a 450-square-foot apartment in New York City.

  • Fuller upgraded the tiny space with creative, renter-friendly hacks.

  • From sticker tiles to taped window paneling, here’s how Fuller upgraded every room.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Carly Fuller and her partner live in a 450-square-foot NYC apartment, and Fuller has packed their tiny space with renter-friendly designs.


Carly Fuller in her kitchen. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

“I really find it hard to describe what my decor style is because my apartment is such a mix,” Fuller told Insider. “As much as I adore a bright and airy aesthetic like my bedroom, I’m a sucker for strong tonal contrast. I use a lot of black because I like a modern touch.”

Throughout the apartment, Fuller got permission from her landlord to repaint all the doors and trim, which used to be cherry brown.

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The front door painted black and white. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

Fuller said she painted the doors and trim white to make the space brighter.

Her landlord gave her permission to permanently paint, so she doesn’t have to remove it when she moves out.

The first thing you see when you walk in the front door is Fuller’s kitchen, where she crafted a shade to cover a light fixture.

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Fuller’s kitchen lampshade. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

Fuller didn’t like the lighting fixture in the kitchen, so she covered it up with a black lampshade she made herself.

Also in the kitchen, Fuller added an island and stick-on marble countertops.

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Fuller’s faux-marble countertops. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

Fuller added the kitchen island for more counter space, storage space, and dining seating. Then she covered both the island and the apartment’s kitchen countertops in stick marble paper so they would match.

On the cabinets, Fuller swapped out all the apartment’s original hardware with gold knobs.

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The golden knobs in Fuller’s kitchen. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

In every room of the house, Fuller added black tape to the otherwise-blank windows to give them some character.


Tape added to Fuller’s windows that look like black paneling. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

“Best and cheapest hack I ever did,” Fuller said.

In the bathroom, Fuller added white vinyl stickers to the black-tiled flooring, giving it a checkerboard feel.

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Fuller’s faux-checkerboard bathroom tiles, painted vanity, and plants. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

Fuller also painted the sink vanity white and black and added plants to the bathroom.

Since the floors in the kitchen and bathroom are black, Fuller painted a few of the walls the same color.

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A black feature wall in Fuller’s kitchen. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

“Something really quirky this apartment came with is gold framed brick squares in both the kitchen and bedroom,” Fuller said. “My landlord let me lightly plaster over the red brick.”

In the living room, Fuller has another black feature wall and an art piece she made out of cardboard and paint mixed with baking soda.

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Fuller’s living room feature wall and art. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

Fuller added that the cardboard came from recycled Amazon packages.

In her bedroom, Fuller used floor-length curtains to make the room feel tall and elegant.

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Fuller’s bedroom nook with long, airy curtains. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

“I truly enjoy sitting here in the mornings with my tea or coffee getting ready for the day,” Fuller said.

Also in the bedroom, fuller stuck a temporary floral wallpaper behind her bed.


Fuller’s bedroom with temporary wallpaper. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

Fuller said she thinks making a rental space your own is important.


Fuller is seen by the front door. Courtesy of Carly Fuller

“After a long day, there’s nothing better than walking into your cozy, warm, unique home that you designed just for you,” she said.

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