Easy DIY Hacks One Brooklyn Couple Used To Personalize Their Apartment

In Refinery29’s Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennials. Today, Brianna and Mike show us some of the small upgrades — along with one big fluffy one — that made a difference in their Brooklyn apartment.
After three years in their apartment on the border of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, couple Brianna and Mike have amassed quite a bag of tricks for making their rental feel more personal and elevated. “There's a lot of things that I wish were a little bit more updated,” says Brianna of the one-bedroom space, “So we’ve tried to make it a bit more — what's the word I'm looking for?” Mike interjects: “Less rough around the edges.” They also made one big, fluffy, and (in Brianna’s words) “a little crazy” addition to their home — an Australian Shepherd puppy named Goose, who they adopted two weeks prior to filming their Sweet Digs.

Use paint, contact paper, or wood to elevate existing surfaces...

The couple made several improvements in the bright, well-appointed kitchen, including coating the walls in a deep teal and upgrading the cabinet hardware throughout the room. Even more subtle — but very effective — was the addition of marble-printed contact paper to cover up the forlorn Formica countertops that came with the space. “It came out really nice, but we almost ended our six-year relationship over it,” jokes Brianna. Even more involved was the construction of a cabinet-sized structure to accommodate a dog crate — which the couple cleverly topped with a wooden slab to create additional counter space in addition to providing an out-of-the-way place for Goose to nap. “It’s basically like a butcher’s block dog kennel,” Brianna explains.

Use color to create depth...

In the cozy, high-ceilinged living room, the couple chose a bold, oceanic blue-green (“Current Mood” from all-in-one paint resource Clare) and created an accent wall, which added eye-catching contrast to the bohemian-accented space. “I think it’s really dramatic, and I love it,” Brianna says. One project that’s still in the works is filling an assortment of newly-acquired gilded frames with “photos of us, our loved ones, our dog.” Color also helped to up the elegance factor in the apartment’s bathroom — after painting the vanity a cool, bluish gray and adding matching black and white accessories, explains Brianna, the formerly dungeon-like nook “feels very chic now.”

Reassess and repurpose underused furniture or space...

In the bedroom, Brianna chose to swap out unused floating-desk space for a standing storage rack. (“I never used it, not once,” explains Brianna.) On Mike’s side of the bedroom, he points out, a “shelf that carried all my mail and crap that I didn’t use” was transformed into an open studio, where a standing desk is now flanked by a wall of musical instruments. The couple also upgraded their bedding with a new set from the R29 home collection, which included a cozy gray throw pillow and comforter in a soft geometric weave that complements a serene and minimal color scheme. “It’s very cloud-like,” Brianna points out. “But we’ve got to keep [the dog] off it, because it’s white.”

Overall, despite living through a pandemic, Brianna and Mike are happy with their apartment — and more importantly, with the new addition to their family. Right now, explains Brianna, “it’s all about realizing what's important and what you want most in life. There's never a best time for more responsibility, a life change. And so we were just like, let’s go for it. And we’re so happy.”
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