Beth Aklilu moved into her one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 567-square-foot apartment in Foggy Bottom in July 2021. The 24-year-old project manager was previously living in a studio in the building next door, and when her lease was up, she started hunting for a bigger place. When she saw this one online, she immediately jumped on it—she toured it and snagged it the same evening she spotted the listing.
“Signing the lease was the easiest decision ever, because I fell in love with the apartment as soon as I stepped in it,” says Aklilu. She loves that it’s on the top floor, which means it gets great light, has good views, and comes with easy access to the rooftop (plus, there are no noisy neighbors living overhead). And she also loves that it’s in an older building with character-filled touches like arched entryways.
Aklilu, who’s been obsessed with interior design and home decor since she was a kid, pulls inspiration for her own spot from Pinterest, TikTok, and Architectural Digest‘s YouTube home tours. Here, we chat with her about finding statement art, creating a cozy space, and the joys of living alone:
What was your inspiration for your home’s aesthetic?
“As soon as I toured the apartment, I couldn’t stop envisioning all the different ways I wanted to decorate it. Most importantly, I knew I wanted it to be a cozy and inviting space. To get this vibe, I combined modern items with vintage pieces, which required me to do a lot of scouring in vintage stores (both online and brick-and-mortar ones), flea markets, and traditional furniture stores.
“I wanted an apartment with a personality—one that was calming, but also colorful. I didn’t want an apartment where people felt like they couldn’t touch or sit on anything. To make the space more welcoming, I invested in buying art and interesting statement pieces, like the rugs and the accent chairs.
What’s the biggest splurge you’ve purchased for your home?
“The 104-inch sofa. It is the most comfortable couch and great for naps, so it’s definitely worth it. And for what I paid for it, I’m making sure I get my money’s worth—it is going to be staying with me for at least the next decade.
What’s the best deal you’ve received on an item for your home?
“The dresser in my bedroom, which I got for free on Facebook Marketplace. I have a lot of clothes and little knick-knacks, so it’s been a saving grace.
What’s your favorite DIY in your apartment?
“My favorite DIY is also my favorite part of my apartment: My gallery wall is my pride and joy and makes my apartment feel like a museum, which I love. The set-up that I built for my records is a second favorite—I combined an old, broken TV stand with steel frames I found on Etsy. I love art and I wanted my space to reflect that, which is why I decided to do the gallery wall and have a dedicated music section.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your home?
“I really appreciate my solitude and can be particular when it comes to my space, which is why I moved into the apartment by myself. There is literally nothing that I love more than coming home from work or from hanging out with family and friends to a clean, cozy apartment. I have worked really hard to make it my home and a place where I can unplug, relax, and recenter myself.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.