Before and After: A $1,500 Redo Peps Up This 250-Square-Foot Studio
Many people envision their ideal living situation as big and open—but as anyone living in a big city knows, sometimes you have to take what you can get. For Meaghan Shanley, an interiors publicist at Nylon Consulting, that was a 250-square-foot, white-washed apartment in a circa 1910 building on the Upper West Side of New York City. “A year or so after moving in, I realized how much I hated the stark white walls because they made the apartment feel generic and a little bit cold,” Meaghan admits. “So I decided to redo the whole thing to give it the cozy and inviting feeling I really cherish in a home.” She may be a publicist, but Meaghan knows a thing or two about design.
Like any city dweller, Meaghan wanted to be greeted with a sense of warmth and comfort when she walked into her apartment, no matter how small it was. The bright white walls and limited natural light didn’t prove to be the most winning combination, so she set a budget of $1,500, saved up, and found inspiration both online and from her interior designer clients. “I’ve always found wallpaper to be transformative, so I started the process there,” Meaghan says.
She spent weeks scouring the internet for a print that would instantly elevate her space before finally landing on a calming eucalyptus pattern from Etsy. Next came the painting, which presented another challenge because the color had to be perfect. For two of the walls, she opted for a rich shade of navy (Behr’s Midnight in the Tropics) that also appears throughout the wallpaper. “I didn’t want the apartment to feel too dark, so I left the exposed white-painted brick wall that extends from the front door all the way to the back of the apartment,” Meaghan says.
Once the walls were complete, she moved onto the floor, which, for the most part, she left alone because Meaghan is a firm believer in the simplistic beauty of hardwood. However, in the living area of the studio, she decided to layer a jute rug from nuLOOM under an antique Persian from The Rug Collective and topped them both with a custom-made coffee table that she designed with a Belmar, New Jersey-based woodworker. “I’m from a beach town in New Jersey, so this coffee table feels like a charming reminder of home,” Meaghan says.
Next came the accent pieces and decorative details that give the apartment those finishing touches which confirm that someone does, in fact, live here. “I really wanted it to feel like home, not just a place where I sleep,” Meaghan says. “Incorporating meaningful pieces, like the vintage writing desk my parents gave me, was an important factor in the decoration process.” In fact, the desk was originally white and didn’t quite fit in the newly redecorated space, so she swathed it in a deep shade of forest green (Behr’s Secluded Woods) and set it against the only white wall in the apartment. Even though Meaghan managed to use quite a few pieces she already owned, she added a few new finds to the mix. For example, tucked into the old desk sits a glamorous leather chair by Kelly Hoppen for SONDER Living.
“One of my favorite pieces is always a clever surprise to people who have never seen it before,” she says about The Urban Electric Co. table lamp on the white dresser to the left of the sofa, which turns on and off when you tap the metal base with your finger. In the same nook, which is by one of the apartment’s three windows, is an Anthropologie wine rack that houses some of her favorite reds for movie nights on the sofa. A vignette in the opposite corner, just outside the walk-in kitchen, is a plush Chesterfield armchair from Joss & Main, which she paired with another sleek piece from SONDER Living, a geometric, metallic end table.
“As much as I love the bold, obvious elements, some of my favorite additions are the tiny details that you may not notice unless you’re looking for them,” Meaghan says. The whimsical knobs from Anthropologie that she used on the cabinets and the UHURU nightstand that’s made from reclaimed beams, are two such details. Another sweet touch? Using the wallpaper on the inset panels of the closet door to help it blend in.
“Looking back on it, there are so many things I’d change because my style is always evolving, but this definitely feels so much more like home and more like me than it did when I first moved in,” Meaghan says of her completed space.
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