A 280-Square-Foot Studio Proves the Space-Maximizing Power of Vertical Storage

published Oct 28, 2020

A 280-Square-Foot Studio Proves the Space-Maximizing Power of Vertical Storage

published Oct 28, 2020
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Karis Danish. And my plant, Kevin.
Location: Greenwich Village — New York City, New York
Size: 280 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years. Wait, people own apartments in the West Village? I rent.

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Karis Danish’s 280-square-foot studio apartment might only be slightly larger than a camper, but before the pandemic (and hopefully again soon), she still entertained quite often. “I like to cook and feed people,” she admits. “My table expands out and I also have this little kitchen bar area, so I can seat up to six people for a meal.” Her table choice isn’t the only way she’s furnished her small studio apartment to fit her lifestyle, or how she’s smartly maximized her limited space.

For instance, there’s no couch here. Karis, a singer, actress, production manager (at Apartment Therapy), and the “Hands” in all of Maxwell’s “One Good Thing” videos, decided on a piano instead. “I mean, nothing against a sofa but if I have a choice I’m going for the piano. My favorite thing about that piano, besides general everyday usage, is a little Christmas tradition I’ve been doing since I moved in, which is a night of Christmas carols and hot bourbon cider,” she explains. “I’ve even done a few play readings in my apartment.” 

Credit: Karis Danish

The building her apartment is in used to be a carriage house and this space was where the carriage house attendant lived, so the place has a lot of quirks. The ceilings aren’t level, there’s not really a “real” closet, and the floor of her closet is very inconveniently slanted due to the closet being located over a staircase, the latter forcing Karis to get creative. “I used adjustable, spring-loaded curtain rods and made little tracks for my shoes,” she explains.

Credit: Karis Danish

Another way she makes living in a small home work? “I also believe in trying to rethink furniture pieces. For instance, my dresser is a tall skinny bathroom cabinet and my nightstand is actually a filing cabinet that houses my ‘office.'” She’s also a huge fan of storing things vertically in a small space. Shelves are installed high up around the home, musical instruments hang on the wall, and kitchen supplies are stored on the wall.

Credit: Karis Danish

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic modern/vintage/boho/happy accident finds. Let’s call it quirky yet approachable!

Inspiration: I am inspired by nature, by lots of textures, and spaces that illicit a feeling of calm with a welcoming vibe. Kind of quirky.

Credit: Karis Danish

Favorite Element: I think I’m most obsessed with having this piano in my home because it provides calm and joy to me when I’m alone and is super fun with a group of people. I’m also very obsessed with my rugs. The Argentinian Cowhide patchwork rug was this crazy find on Craigslist. It used to live in John Belushi’s old apartment. And then I inherited this sweet sheepskin run that is just super soft and luxurious; someone was getting rid of it. I like to rifle through my friend’s purging piles. Both of these items exist in my home because of what I like to call the right place right time effect. 

Biggest Challenge: Space, space, space. Vertical storage is the best antidote to minimal square footage situations. If I can hang it on the wall I will. All my instruments are on the wall, the dish drying rack, pots and pans hang from the ceiling in a great little shelf item from Crate & Barrel that I bought from a friend when she was moving out of her East Village apartment. I installed shelves directly onto the wall all over the apartment, including high up near the ceiling out of eye line for a top row of books. The other way to overcome keeping your sanity in 280 square feet is to purge things you do not use REGULARLY. Not once a year—more like once a quarter. And I feel great about giving things away that I don’t use because SO many things in my apartment I got because someone else was giving away an item they weren’t using. Maybe my style is “giveaway”?

Credit: Karis Danish

Proudest DIY: My fave DIY is in the kitchen. It’s a basic folding dish rack that attaches to the wall from IKEA HOWEVER, I made it rental-friendly by cutting the metal rod (phoned a friend with a fancy saw, aka my co-worker, Christopher) that is supposed to get screwed into the wall. I couldn’t screw it into the wall cause I have a tile backsplash. Instead I attached it from above the sink counter area by drilling into the base of the cabinet and using some U-Hook bolts to attach the bar that it hooks onto. It works well and I didn’t have to drill into the tile backsplash. I figure no one will notice those little holes in the cabinet. 

Biggest Indulgence: Easily my mirror. I have a huge floor-to-ceiling mirror and it helps the apartment feel much bigger than it is, not to mention it helps me make sure I Iook good before I walk out the door in the morning. 

Credit: Karis Danish

Best Advice: Vertical storage! Also, there is ALWAYS a solution when it comes to a design issue or a space issue. 

What’s your best home secret? Use furniture pieces in surprising ways. I have this bathroom cabinet that I use as a dresser. All the dressers I could find were either too big, or just had too big of a presence in my tiny apartment, but I needed one more thing to keep clothes in other than my tiniest of closets. Then I saw this bathroom cabinet at CB2. It’s modern and minimal. Its simplicity makes it so that your eye doesn’t really land on it. And it holds my T-shirts, jeans, and sports clothes perfectly. Also the bathroom cabinet was like half the cost of dressers. Also my nightstand is in fact a FILING CABINET so my nightstand actually houses my home office. It’s all tucked away I there and I can pull out certain tools like tape/stamps/scissors easily.   


Credit: Karis Danish


  • Wooden chair from a friend that serves as a “landing strip” — No idea
  • Sheepskin Rug covering chair — IKEA
  • Eames Hang-it-all Hook — I can’t seem to find the exact one that I have anymore; here is something close.
  • Floor Length Mirror — Infinity Brass 32″ x 76″ Floor Mirror from CB2
Credit: Karis Danish


  • Piano — Roland
  • Dining Table — antique
  • Chairs — Target Project 62
  • Round Mirror — Target
  • Candle Sticks — Target
  • Cool To Be Kind Art — Society6
  • Hand Holding Art — Society6
  • Bar Stools — Yo those came from the STREET.  AKA a pile of trash.
  • Rattan Decorative Mirror — Pier 1
Credit: Karis Danish


  • Shephard Fairey Print — Can get lots of places mine was a gift!
  • Pots + Pans Rack — Crate and Barrel
  • Foldable Dish Drying Rack — I got mine at IKEA but they don’t seem to have it on the site anymore. I found it here.
  • Kettle – Fellow
Credit: Karis Danish


  • Duvet Cover — Crane and Canopy
  • Mud Cloth Throw Pillow — Hudson and Harper
  • Bathroom Cabinet Turned Dresser — CB2 (not exactly the same but close)
  • Sheepskin Rug — Pier 1 doesn’t carry it anymore but I did find it HERE
  • White Wall Mounted Bookshelves — IKEA
  • Bedside Table which is ACTUALLY a filing cabinet — TARGET
  • Bedside Lamp — Novogratz

Thanks Karis!

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