A 180-Square-Foot NYC Studio Proves the Power of Flexible Furniture in Small Spaces

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Name: Margaret Williamson Bechtold and husband
Location: Lower East Side — New York, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 180 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

All of our furniture is light and flexible and ready to be moved or stacked in a pinch -- for the times when the space doubles as a styling closet and we have a full team of folks and racks upon racks of samples on every surface.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I am a freelance fashion stylist and creative consultant who *tried* to relocate full-time to Austin from Manhattan a few years ago, but just couldn’t stay away. I started renting our apartment as a crash pad/ test to see whether my husband and I miss it enough to return full-time, and ended up splitting my time between the two cities instead—the best of both worlds.

Tote bags serve as strategic storage in our too-small space. The green one on the cabinet under the sink is by an Austin friend's line, VADA, and currently holds a bunch of bananas. I nursed the Bibliotheca flyer home in one piece from a design research trip for a client in Tokyo.

Since this rental was truly meant to be a test, the place is furnished entirely from Amazon orders (the big stuff, like our mattress was $200), street-side finds (most of our art is framed gallery guides and light pole flyers) and local Chinatown treasures from the shops of East Broadway and Grand Street (like our plastic stools and restaurant supply store bowls).

A few key splurges here and there pull it together, like our Cold Picnic rug and bathmat, and the heavy haul of fresh bodega flowers we lug up the stairs each time we return for a while. My husband and I work on a a vintage book project called Dontworrybaby together, so there’s a fair share of great old literature accumulating on our shelves, too.

An Amazon-sourced bookshelf holds the "essentials:" a Goodwill lamp, bright book covers and a bowl full of earplugs to block out the late night revelers of the Lower East Side.

I’m a maximalist at heart, even when I’m being minimal. For the apartment, that translates as rainbow dishes and flatware and kindergarten color stools, much like the way I dress, which tends to be bold and and a bit over-the-top. I’m also very “tidy to the naked eye” meanwhile, every cabinet and closet are filled to the brim with my New York-set of styling racks, steamers, and kit components.

Bodega lillies, a Grand Street stool and art from this spring's $40 art show at The Hole gallery.

What is your favorite room and why? It’s a studio, but I’d have to say the “dining room.”

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Flexible, flavorful, practical

Amazon meets street finds again, plus a dried stalk from my favorite: Caribbean Cuts in the Flower District. With some VADA jewelry on the bedside for good measure.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Cold picnic “crop circles” rug; Byredo Peyote Poem candle; Bed Bath and Beyond bentwood stool; and IKEA KALAS kids multi-color plates.

I'd been surfing around for the perfect Hellers when these Ikea kids plates came into my life - $1.99 for the whole pack. The glass on the far right is from a set we found at The Break in Greenpoint. The rest of our kitchenware was furnished in restaurant supply shops near the place.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I’m very visual, so I love to see things coming together, even if I’m ordering it all online—and I fully know that this may sound psycho—but I love to screencap everything in my shopping carts and assemble those photos in a “room” on Google Slides.

Do rearrange often, don’t be afraid of cheap stuff, and treat yourself to expensive items, too. That’s my version of yin-and-yang.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.