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.
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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.”

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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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