Paul's Perfectly Suited Studio

House Tour

Name: Paul
Location: Financial District — Manhattan, New York
Size: 350 square feet
Years lived in: 2½ — rented

Making the most of a tiny studio apartment, Paul creates a luxurious and inviting living space befitting of his motto to "decorate like your clothes and dress like your bed."

As a copywriter for Ralph Lauren, Paul spends his days defining a style that is simple, timeless and elegant — and it's easy to see how this aesthetic pervades his own lifestyle at home. With walls outfitted in silvery grays, and with rich textiles like suede and cashmere, Paul's apartment almost seems to be referencing a well-tailored men's garment. As every sartorially minded fellow knows, keep it simple and save surprises for the small details. Like shiny little cuff links adorning the wrist, Paul incorporates some quirkier elements into this dapper dwelling, like the over-sized light bulb he found on the street, or the Parisian scene depicted on the liner of his shower curtain.

With only 350 square feet, Paul created a space that is both comfortable and versatile. With a keen eye for detail and an innate ability to edit, he devised a floor plan that functions not only for work and sleep, but also includes plenty of seating for those key social moments. Though the space is filled with would-be pricey contemporary furniture pieces, Paul's eye for a bargain (and little black book of warehouse sales) has helped him amass a collection of instant-classic elements he plans on holding onto for when he graduates to more spacious diggs.

It was a pleasure spending the afternoon with Paul in his bright and airy little apartment. He is a true gentleman, in both dress and manner with a perfectly fitted studio that certainly follows suit.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Many aspects of the studio, such as the kitchen and the hardwood flooring, are sleek and modern. I wanted to complement the clean lines, dark colors and stainless steel accents with a very masculine, collected approach to decorating while at the same time making the room feel warm and more inviting.

Inspiration: I've always been drawn to very polished, tailored interiors and tend to pick out furniture and accent pieces that resemble men's suiting. I love the look of shirting stripes and haberdashery-inspired patterns, which I've incorporated into the sofa and bed, since they're the two most prominent pieces in the room. The sofa is upholstered in superfine Italian wool suiting fabric.

Favorite Element: I have two: the bed (see Biggest Indulgence) and the silver "vase" with the white branches. I put vase in quotes because it's actually an oil lamp. I like how the bright silver and white branches function with the brass strips along the wall as a bit of textural relief against the moody shades of grey on the walls.

Biggest Challenge: I think I face the same challenges as many New Yorkers living in studio apartments--space and budget. The most annoying thing for me about living in a studio is constantly having to look at the kitchen. The marble console has been a wonderful addition to the room. It serves as a makeshift dining table and a bar area during parties and helps break up the room visually, allowing me to ignore the fact that kitchen sink is 5 feet from the "living room".

Generally speaking, finding the pieces I have without breaking the bank has been my biggest challenge. I am definitely a bargain shopper and I've been very fortunate to get some of these classic styles greatly reduced. For this, I have to thank and recommend two resources:

  1. The Design Within Reach Annex in Secaucus, New Jersey, where you can find some near-pristine quality pieces for far less than retail.
  2. The Ralph Lauren Home Warehouse Sale, which is held annually in late winter. Most of my dishware, barware and throw pillows have been picked up at the Warehouse Sale.

What Friends Say: One friend told me I should get into decorating boutique hotel rooms because I have a knack for making small spaces look good. I think the best complement I've ever received is from one of my closest friends, Amanda, who asked me to help decorate her place.

Biggest Embarrassment: When I first moved to the neighborhood, I had a lot of friends nearby and wanted to have dinner gatherings. I bought a 40-inch diameter glass top table at a DWR Annex sale that I really loved at a great price. I basically refused to believe I couldn't make it work, but of course, as soon as I got it in my place, I realized I would either have to cut it in half or send it to storage. For about a week, I had the glass top propped up against the wall in the hallway and one day it came crashing down, taking quite a bit of drywall with it, not to mention a good chunk of the floor.

Proudest DIY: The drywall and hardwood repair that followed in the wake of the great tabletop crash of 2009.

Biggest Indulgence: The bedding. The bedding is a lot for a. one person b. a full-size bed c. a studio apartment, and it takes me a good 15 minutes to make the bed every morning, but it is so comfortable to sleep in and I love the mix of textures from the cotton, silk, suede and cashmere fabrics.

Best Advice: As with many Manhattan studio apartments, space is an issue, so you should put an effort into investing in pieces that you truly love and that function for your needs. That way, you're much more likely to enjoy having a piece 10 or 20 years from now. Once you've invested in these essential pieces, it's easier to go back and make small changes. In studio spaces, those little changes can keep things interesting, and you might surprise yourself with how you can continue to improve your space with little effort or cost.

Dream Sources: I think I have the most clothing and the smallest closet of anyone I know. My dream is to have a walk-in closet some day, and when I do, I would love to have the whole thing designed by Poliform. I think I'd rather have a bigger closet than a 1-bedroom. I'm not sure if there are studio apartments out there with closets nearly equal to the size of the living space, but if you hear about one, let me know.

Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS


ENTRY


MAIN LIVING SPACE


KITCHEN


BATHROOM


Thanks, Paul!

Images: Mat Sanders

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