This Influencer's New Jersey Rental Emanates Black Culture

A living room with brown leather couch, black coffee table, and colorful artwork
The Spruce / Illustration by Amy Sheehan / Joy Navon

For some, a rental apartment or house is just a halfway point until people can own the property of their dreams. For others, they’ve possibly never wanted to own a house or apartment—they just love living in rentals long-term. You don't need to own a house to have a home, you can make your rental feel homey and beautiful with just a bit of imagination and renter-friendly updates.

We're highlighting gorgeous rentals that scream home. Joy Navon rents a 727-square-foot one-bedroom apartment with her husband in New Jersey.

Meet the Expert

Joy Navon is a full-time content creator focusing on lifestyle, marriage, and home decor. She currently lives in South Amboy, New Jersey about 40 minutes away from New York City.

Joy Navon reading a magazine in front of her floating shelves

Joy Navon

Navon has only lived in the apartment for seven months, but she's been making major strives to turn her new-build rental into a place that she can call home. The modern apartment features stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, and an all-white kitchen but Navon's goal has been to make the place feel cozier—and she's achieving it.

What were the greatest finds or DIY projects in your home? For your DIY projects, what was the estimated cost?

Our greatest DIY projects are definitely the coffee table and dining table. The coffee table legs were a $30 find at a Crate & Barrel Outlet. We needed a tabletop so we created our own out of plywood. The amount of wood was around $100 so we used the scraps for our dining table base. The top of our dining table was given to us by my husband's mother. It took a lot of imagination but everything worked out perfectly!

A dark brown coffee table in a brightly lit living room

Joy Navon

How would you describe your style and approach to decorating your apartment?

I have a very eclectic style! I’ve always leaned more into streetwear or bohemian-inspired fashion, but I have an appreciation for a wide variety of styles! I absolutely love midcentury design but as long as I have different textures, plants, and art around me, I’m into it. As far as my approach, I ask myself three things; “Is it functional?”, “Is it built to last?” and “Can I live without it?”.

A TV surrounded by colorful books, vases, and plants with a console table beneath it

Joy Navon

Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?

I can’t say that I have one particular point of inspiration, I’ve always had an eye for design. Dating back to childhood, I remember my mother’s last apartment in Brooklyn. She was subscribed to store catalogs like IKEA and CB2, so we would get copies every month. I spent so many days flipping through pages, dreaming of having my own apartment to decorate one day. Now I enjoy interior design magazines or scrolling through Pinterest, but mostly I just trust the process.

four paintings of popular Black female performers

Joy Navon

What was the most challenging part of making your apartment a home?

I didn’t find it challenging because I know what I like and what I need, so it was very easy for me to find comfort here. You can make anywhere feel like home, you just need to know yourself.

How long did it take you to get your apartment to where it is today? Is there anything else major that you’d like to do to your apartment?

It’s taken about six months to get the apartment where it is now. The only major thing left to do is a bedroom makeover. It’s very minimalistic right now and it’s comfortable, but it could use some personality.

A rattan bed with white sheets and brown pillows

Joy Navon

Apartments, for most, are temporary how did you juggle the idea of “this could be a temporary space” with wanting to make it as personal as possible?

Before we moved we decided that we would only buy things intentionally. All of our furniture pieces were investments or affordable DIYs. With that in mind, not only did it make shopping easier but, it made our apartment feel like somewhere we could stay long-term. When we do decide to move, there isn’t anything we wouldn’t take with us.

A white kitchen with stainless steel appliances

Joy Navon

What's your biggest tip for any apartment dwellers trying to make their home the oasis of their dreams?

Customize your home for you! Don’t obsess over trends or style ‘dos and don’ts’. Bring things into your home that spark joy. That’s how you create a dream oasis.

My apartment is the biggest reflection of me and who I am at my core. I’m bright but moody, neutral but colorful, and very cultured. Black culture oozes out of most of my design choices in patterns, art, and decor. It’s all intentional because I need to feel the most comfortable where I celebrate, where I feel, and where I lay my head. It’s a safe space, not only for me but for my family and friends.

It’s all intentional because I need to feel the most comfortable where I celebrate, where I feel, and where I lay my head. It’s a safe space, not only for me but for my family and friends.

Colorful books on a shelf

Joy Navon

Could you list some of your favorite decor pieces in your apartment and where you got them?

Some of my favorite decor pieces are the IKEA shelves and our vinyl records; mostly hand-me-down, thrifted, or from Target. And last but not least, plants. I source my plants wherever they find me. I have plants that were gifts, but I do like to shop in-store. Some of my favorite places are The Home Depot and Lowe's but I always recommend supporting local nurseries.

Rapid-Fire Questions

  1. Favorite part of your apartment? Living room
  2. What’s something that you had to get rid of to make space for your new things? Clothes
  3. Biggest challenge when decorating? Budget
  4. Biggest splurge when decorating? Bed