This New York Muralist Found a 350-Square Foot Steal in Brooklyn After Rents Soared
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In spring 2023, like many New Yorkers, I got the rug pulled out from under me and was forced to move out of an apartment I loved due to a drastic price increase ($1200 per month). The difference for me was that the whole internet watched it happen. I posted a video tour of my apartment to see if anyone would try to apply to the apartment and KEEP all the murals I had created, because otherwise, the management company would make me cover up my artwork.
The video went viral on TikTok and I had hundreds of people message me with legitimate interest in finding info on how to apply, and I tried my best, but the management company refused to see the value in my artwork despite the thousands of people who were willing to pay even higher than they had listed the space for to be able to keep the murals. They refused to give my security deposit back unless they were covered, even if the new tenants wanted the work.
Once all that nonsense was taken care of, I was on the hunt for a new space during the worst market NYC has seen for renters in years. Keep in mind, I stayed in NYC through the worst of the pandemic and at this point had lived alone for two years. I run my own business, am active on social media, and was not looking to go back to roommate life at 30 years old. But being an artist, my budget was low (for NYC standards) and pickings were slim.
Finally, by a stroke of luck, I saw a one-bedroom listed on Craigslist in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for $1800. At this point, the only apartments I had seen at that price were in unsafe neighborhoods, smaller in size, and didn’t have full kitchens. So I was beyond desperate and this place almost looked too good to be true.
I got there, viewed the space, and knew I had to jump on it. There were NO closets — that’s right, not one — but I could work with it. The bedroom would be very tiny and wouldn’t fit my side table, but I could work with it. The kitchen cabinets didn’t all match, but I could work with it. The sunlight was gorgeous. The walk to the subway was two minutes. The neighborhood was safe. I knew it would be mine.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Funky, eclectic, colorful, joyful
Inspiration: Current fashion trends, color palettes I find on Pinterest, vintage finds
Favorite Element: My mural. It’s different than anything I’ve ever painted for myself or a client and it brings me so much joy.
Biggest Challenge: The bedroom size and layout was tough. The whole space is only about eight feet by eight feet, which meant my queen-size bed would be up against one wall and the dresser on the other. My bedside table had to go into storage because the door would hit it.
The other biggest challenge was storage — NO closets. I had to outsource and buy three large wardrobes from IKEA — but I made it work and I actually love that I got to DIY my closet with various storage options like clothing racks, drawers, and shelves.
Proudest DIY: THE KITCHEN. Man this was an overhaul. Covering my cabinets (safely with no damage) took HOURS of work. But I am so glad I committed because each day that I looked at the wood stains that didn’t match each other, I hated it more and more. Since the main space is all one room, there’s no avoiding seeing the kitchen, especially since I am so often taking photos and videos of my space.
Budget: I pay $1800 a month. Any New Yorker who understand the boroughs and their pricing for studios/one bedrooms will realize how insanely lucky I got with this price, even if the space isn’t perfect. Almost everything is the same from my last apartment. I had to buy two items to make this space work. One was a splurge at $1500 for my closet and its components from IKEA. The other was smaller side table from IKEA for $120.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I would say for the most part, my home is arranged in a traditional way. The difference for me is that since I also work at home, a lot of my storage is used up by business supplies, like paints, brushes, and other mural necessities. That will soon change as I just signed a lease for my very first art studio space!
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I have become a master at organizing my small spaces because for an NYC girl, I have a lot of stuff. Beyond your usual clothes, shoes, and makeup, I also have to keep my art supplies at home so maximizing the space is essential. My best tips is to get solid furniture with drawer/cabinet space. A large dresser is a must. A wardrobe/armoire with doors that close versus something with a glass/open front. This will help you to hide away the stuff that makes a space feel cluttered. Then within those pieces of furniture, dividers or bins are a necessity.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My best advice is to be bold — if you see something that inspires you while you’re out shopping, but you don’t know how you would decorate using those colors, just buy it and let the rest of the pieces fall into place. Not everything is going to “go” perfectly together. Collect items over time that you fall in love with build around them instead of fighting against your instinct.
PAINT & COLORS
- Benjamin Moore — Comet, Blue Lace, Cayman Blue, Apple Crisp, Fruit Punch, Ryan Red, Wheatfield, Peach Pudding, Rhodedendron
Sofa — CB2 Queen Sleeper Sofa
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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