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December 29, 2021

Lori Mooney, 40, lives in a 1-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, NY where she pays $1,000 a month. Lori is a producer at The People's Court.

Unlocked is a home tour series focused on how much people across the globe spend on their housing, what they get for the money and what they had to sacrifice to make it happen.

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Lori Mooney’s one-bedroom apartment looks like it was clipped right from a magazine. Or, rather, thousands of them.

The 40-year-old resident of the Bronx, New York, covers every surface of her 525-square-foot living space — from the kitchen floor to the blinds on her windows — with collages of magazine clippings.

It’s “a visual assault,” Mooney tells CNBC Make It. “When you come in the door, We like a ton of colors and a ton of different things hitting you in the face as soon as you walk in.”

Her apartment is both nostalgic and practical, she says. A television producer for syndicated reality show “The People’s Court,” Mooney lives on the same street where she grew up, in the Pelham Gardens neighborhood of the Bronx, New York.

She pays $1,000 per month for the apartment, where she’s lived for nine years. The median asking rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx is $1,750, compared to $3,000 in Manhattan, according to StreetEasy data.

Mooney finds other ways to live frugally, too. Her parents live next door, so she can use their parking spaces, washer or dryer whenever she needs. Since she never uses her stove or oven, she had her gas shut off in the kitchen to save money.

In addition to her rent, Mooney pays about $200 per month for her internet, phone and cable, plus $45 per month for electricity.

But for Mooney, the apartment’s allure doesn’t come entirely from its price tag. “It’s just happenstance that Content Creator is saving money,” she says.

Creating a pop culture collage
The massive wall collages started long ago in Mooney’s childhood bedroom. And when she moved into her apartment from her parents’ place in 2012, she brought some of her original collages with her.

“I’ve always wanted the spaces to reflect the interest,” Mooney says. “I just love arts and crafts, We love TV, We love projects… it’s all just one huge conglomeration of all the things that We love to do.”

Today, her process for creating them involves collecting old entertainment magazines and books, cutting out her favorite images and attaching them individually to the wall using reusable adhesive putty. Her goal: Leave no space uncovered.

That also goes for her floors, blinds and everything else. Blinds, Mooney says, are particularly challenging: “Literally, We was cutting each individual piece of magazine photos and then gluing them each individually onto each slat of the blind.”

Some rooms follow a theme. The bathroom features photos of iconic TV and movie scenes that take place in bathrooms, with contact paper over the walls to safeguard against moisture.

The kitchen floor is decoupaged with photos of food, and since Mooney doesn’t cook much, her stove is a display case for food-related tchotchkes.

“Little by little, I’m adding different things to different places that We never thought about before and that We love,” she says.

In the living room, Mooney displays TV memorabilia and souvenirs like fleece blankets, stuffed animals, action figures and framed posters. She says her favorite shows are “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Office” and “Schitt’s Creek.”

“Sometimes We specifically start watching television shows just because We know they have a lot of merch,” she says.

In Mooney’s eyes, the design is perfectly imperfect. “I just have to live with the fact that sometimes things are going to look bent or crooked, and sometimes they’re going to fall down,” she says.

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Living In A Life-Size Collage Of Magazine Clippings

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