The actress moved into the renovated space in April and gave PEOPLE an exclusive tour

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She spends nine months a year in New York City for Saturday Night Live, but when Cecily Strong decided to purchase her first house, she chose L.A.

“I went to school out here, and I have a lot of friends here, and I love sunshine,” says the California Institute of the Arts alum. “For the money that I can afford to spend in New York, it would be like a little shoebox in Queens or something, but I wanted to be able to spread out my arms and spin around.”

Strong, 34, fell in love with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom fixer-upper, renovated it and moved in three months ago.

“I call the house ‘she,'” Strong says. “She has character!”

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The actress decided to redo the kitchen and enlarge the master bath with the help of designer Nicole Palczynski, who she says made the house feel like home.

“I like having very joyful, colorful things around me,” says Strong. “If there are ever days you’re not feeling great on the inside, it’s good to kind of have something really fun around you.”

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Credit: Justin Coit

Though some decisions were practical—like a vinyl banquette in the kitchen that will hold up to wear and tear from her rescue dog Lucy—she made unexpected choices too, such as a color scheme of turquoise and teal, with pops of gold in the graphic wallpaper in her bedroom.

“The wallpaper’s sort of the star of the house,” says Strong.

Now she’s just waiting to fill the home with people. “I mean, in my New York apartment there’s a bed in my kitchen,” she says. “Having all this space, I can’t wait to share it!”