Home Improvement

Love Where You Lease: How Dopamine Decor Turned My Space Into A Self-Love Haven

I've been told I have what many might call a "cool apartment." From my friends to my favorite aunties to my grandmother, who has been a homeowner for more than fifty years, everyone who visits tells me they can tell how much love I put into this place. I'd have to agree; I do. I lived at home until I was almost 30 years old, so when I moved out, I knew my place had to feel like I had arrived into adulthood, and it does.

I live on one of the top floors of a high-rise apartment overlooking my city. Each room in my home was painted with love and intention, a theme of African contemporary rests throughout my aesthetic and decor, and each piece of art has been carefully chosen to showcase various parts of my life and personality. Still, every once in a while, I get a comment from someone when they ask how much I've spent on furniture and decor that goes a little something like, "Girl, for all that, you could have bought a house!"

I could respond by telling them that I was raised by a single mother (who encourages me to live my best luxury-living life) whom I watched firsthand navigate all of the responsibilities of homeownership alone and that between roof replacements, countless water pumps for our flooded basement, and unreliable contractors, homeownership as a single woman isn't something I exactly want to rush into.

I could also tell them that as a woman who desires marriage, I have my whole life to have a home and pour love into it and that what I don't have my whole life to do is live in a high rise and enjoy the luxuries of a maintenance staff, gym, sauna, swimming pool, and hosting area.

I could also say that while this furniture was expensive, it will come with me to the home that I will have someday, whether it finds itself in a main bedroom, guest room, or office. But the truth is that none of that is the answer; the answer is this: I deserve to design the life that I want for myself, and in this moment, that life includes pouring love into my rental.


"I deserve to design the life that I want for myself, and in this moment, that life includes pouring love into my rental."

Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah

While I didn't have the language for why I needed even my first apartment to feel good, I recently came across this idea called dopamine decor. Recently, researchers have discovered that decorating your home with specific patterns, textures, and colors can be good for your brain. Home living and interior design experts likeArchitectural Digest andBetter Homes and Gardens say, "The dopamine decor trend—like dopamine dressing that came before it—you just need to focus on surrounding yourself with furniture, art, and objects that make you happy."

Take this trend as an opportunity to ask yourself, are there color themes, patterns, textures, or shades that bring you joy?


Dopamine decor is inviting us to be intentional about buying what we love, not just what we see.

Courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah

Suppose you're wondering how this trend will impact your pockets. In that case, dopamine decorating is also said to help us be thorough about purchases, inviting us to be more intentional about how we shop, step away from over-consumption, and buy what we love, not just what we see. That's not to say that trendy pieces can't be what you love; the point is to focus on feeling - not impulse.

Whether you're someone who is into minimalism and needs a home that supports your mental health, or you desire unique pieces in each small corner of your home, you deserve to live in a space that feels good - to you.

So, how can you apply this trend to your rental? Here are some decor decisions that I've used to infuse decor dopamine into my apartment.

1. Colored Glass 

Colored glass has had me in a trance since working with my set designer for a project with Puma. I'd never seen taper candle holders made from colored glass, and at the end of the shoot, when we'd begun to decide what we were returning to the stores, I asked her to hold the colored glass items for me because I told her that I'd use them in my new apartment. I was living with my mom and had no apartment at the time, but I was manifesting!

Two years later, from the candles that sit across my bar to my stemware and items on my mantel, colored glass fills my home.

Some of my favorite colored glass products can be found below:

2. Unique Furniture 

Black women can relate to growing up and having that relative who had beautiful furniture that you could only look at; well, I wanted to change the narrative. My furniture is beautiful but also functional, and with yearly maintenance and cleaning, it will stay in this shape while I'm in my rental and when I decide on my next chapter.

Shop my favorite unique furniture finds below:

3. Black Art

When I was deciding on my artwork, I knew two things - that I wanted my artwork to be curated by Black artists and that I wanted it to reflect what I wanted to manifest in my life and bodies of work that are of importance to me.

Shop some of my favorite Black art finds:

4. Romantic Taper Candles 

This one is for all the lover girlies; I have decided that I'm not waiting for an evening of romance to light taper candles. Every day that I'm living is an opportunity to romanticize my life. Lighting my taper candles reminds me that I deserve romance, and it encourages me to stay present in the beauty that each day can provide, even when I'm not in the best space.

No matter what your aesthetic, I hope this inspires you to be intentional about pouring love into your rental in 2024.

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Featured image courtesy of Yasmine Jameelah



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