Name: Eileen and Walter the golden retriever
Location: Upper East Side — New York, New York
The basics: 5.5 years, rented
We love the charming and approachable functionality of Eileen's apartment. Fitting a busy life AND a golden retriever into a New York studio is no easy feat, and Eileen manages to do it with style.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself: I'm a native New Yorker who had lived in the diaspora (Boston & DC) for 10 years before returning to NYC. My studio apartment is home to me and my recently adopted golden retriever rescue, Walter. Walter keeps me very neat, or else we both pay the price by him getting his nose into whatever is left out. I've moved about 8 times in my adult life, and each apartment has gotten a bit better, applying lessons learned from the apartments before. Also - a bit more money to spend, on storage solutions for instance, doesn't hurt. My apartment has been a work in progress since I was on my own after college. I may say my style is "eclectic" but it's partly because I could only buy one item at a time - sometimes many years apart. The rug I bought 15 years ago had to work with the chair I bought two years ago. I enjoy living in a small space, but it also means each design decision must work with everything else you have.
What is your favorite room and why? It's a studio, so... my favorite room is THE apartment! I sectioned the apartment into several regions. There is a foyer, living room, dining room, and bedroom, all created by furniture placement. I especially love my Murphy bed. I don't know why more New Yorkers living in small spaces don't use them. My only hesitancy in regards to moving back into a studio was hating having a bed in the middle of your living space. It felt especially awkward with guests over. The Murphy bed fixes that issue. I went "all in" and found a Murphy bed that not only provides a ton of storage, but looks lovely up or down. Guests never know that the bookcase is actually a Murphy bed. Though they ALWAYS (excitedly) ask for a demonstration to how it works. I love how it's also built to highlight artwork when it's down.
If you could magically fix something about your home, what would it be? There is only so much you can (or should) do with a rental property. I definitely would love to spruce up my bathroom and kitchen. I've made a few modifications to those areas that are either reversible (paint/removable wallpaper) or items (like cabinet hardware) that can be taken with me. I would also love to replace my ugly window treatments - but there are certain investments that are a bad return for a place you don't own.
What's the last thing you bought for your home? My Jonathan Adler X-Bench. Now I am "livin' the dream" of putting my feet up to read a book or watch tv. It took me a while to pull the trigger on that purchase. It felt quite extravagantly expensive for a small bench. But it fits in with my decor so nicely and emphasized bits of purple accents around the apartment. It feels subdued and colorful all at the same time. Also, it's a highly functional piece - serving as an ottoman, table, and chair. I LOVE it!!
Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? Mary Tyler Moore had way more space fictionally living in Minneapolis, but I think she would feel at home in my place. The space isn't too fussy, nor is it compromising or waiting for a spouse to make it complete. It's set up for an empowered working woman to accomplish everything she wants to do with the space - entertain, host out-of-town guests, or feel cozy spending time alone. She would have to get over not having a shag rug, though.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Especially for a small space - your furniture HAS to fit the exact space, and almost everything should be multi-functional. I worked on downsizing when I knew I was moving from a one-bedroom, 800 square foot place to a 600 square foot studio. And once I moved, I had to whittle down a number of furniture pieces I was sad to have to give up, especially as I had to invest in buying brand new pieces at the same time. But I LOVE my apartment. I draw good energy from it every day. It inspires me to keep it clean. So I don't regret prioritizing getting rid of items that didn't fit, and finding other pieces to fit the space.
I'd also suggest thinking about functional storage and identifying a specific space for everything BEFORE you even move in. I invested in some shelving and drawers, and I also didn't forget vital storage space by going vertical. Having a place for each thing has kept this apartment easy to keep neat and clean. And also very easy to host a guest or two last minute. When it comes to rental apartments - unless you are certain you'll be spending a very short time in it, don't shy away from investments. Paint, replacing wall fixtures, installing shelves/storage - do it all as close to your move-in day as you can. The most utility and biggest bang for your buck comes from an early investment. Your life is NOW. Enjoy your space and don't dismiss all the time you're in a rental, waiting to be happy in a place you own.
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