Minneapolis Renter Reveals the Beautiful Reality of Apartment Living

Instagram influencer and interior design aficionado Hannah Ellingson shares her experience personalizing a rented space

Photos courtesy of Hannah Ellingson  

As any renter knows, there are often rules and regulations in place that restrict how you can customize your space. With this limitation comes the challenge of infusing these temporary homes with character and personality—especially when signing a lease for only 12 months. But it’s not impossible to make your mark, as shown through Instagram personality Hannah Ellingson’s viral Minneapolis apartment. The 600-square-foot industrial unit bursts with colorful creativity, and Ellingson has made sure to document the design process since she first moved in.

Since 2022, Ellingson has shared her journey furnishing and decorating her space—all the while garnering a loyal 58.4K following on Instagram. “This is my first apartment on my own, and I’ve always wanted to decorate a place that feels 100% me,” she says. “When I moved into this apartment, I posted a few reels as I began decorating, and they went viral. I had no idea interior design was a niche on Instagram, and I unintentionally gained this following.”

But the process of finding the picture-perfect space did not come so easy. She says, “After a few months of apartment searching, my ‘must-have’ list turned into a ‘can’t-afford-but-would-be-nice’ list.” However, with a stroke of luck, she stumbled upon the property management listing for her apartment just six minutes after it was posted. The one-bedroom unit immediately felt like home, with south-facing windows, lofted ceilings, and a bright, open layout capturing her heart.

“I knew I had a unique industrial space, and I was just itching to juxtapose it with soft, feminine, and colorful pieces that felt like me,” Ellingson describes. With her first taste of independence, she prioritized aesthetics over functionality, opting for pieces that spoke to her style rather than practicality. She continues, “I get a lot of people who say, ‘That couch can’t be comfortable,’ and to that I say, ‘It isn’t, but I don’t care!’”

Adhering to a budget during the design process, Ellingson assembled a vast collection of thrifted furnishings, Facebook Marketplace finds, and DIY decor. On Facebook, specifically, she has developed an obsession for finding the best, most unique products, stating, “My biggest tip is to set Facebook notifications if you’re looking for something specific. I also like to set my radius up to 100 miles; I’ve driven four hours round-trip for pieces I’ve really wanted.” In the Twin Cities, some of her favorite spots for home goods include Stranger & Co., findfurnish, and Golden Age Design.

When it came to the more dated features of the space, Ellingson used renter-friendly tactics to personalize and upgrade them to match her style. For instance, the countertops in the kitchen were originally a concrete gray color that disrupted the room’s color palette. To bring continuity into the space, she used matte black waterproof contact paper to match the appliances. The black and white checkered tile in the bathroom was another addition by Ellingson, with peel-and-stick paper from Amazon hiding the linoleum underneath.

Although Ellingson has been able to craft a completely individualized space through various design details, her artwork is where her personality shines. “I think my favorite parts of my apartment are the ones that are truly unique,” she says. “The paintings in my living room and bedroom have a special place in my heart because I painted them myself. I couldn’t afford quality art of that size, so out of necessity, I was able to create something I loved. I’ve even repainted them a few times as my style has evolved over the years.”

With her newfound passion and popularity, Ellingson now posts about each beautiful moment in her home, many of which showcase Poppy, the apartment puppy. She reminisces on her journey thus far, stating, “It’s been such a fun experience. I truly love the art of creating content and sharing inspiration with online friends across the world.”

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