This 320-Square-Foot NYC Studio Apartment Features an Incredibly Smart Shelf Staircase

published Apr 10, 2023

This 320-Square-Foot NYC Studio Apartment Features an Incredibly Smart Shelf Staircase

published Apr 10, 2023
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Name: Mindy Lai
Location: Upper East Side — New York, New York
Size: 320 square feet
Type of Home: Lofted Studio Apartment
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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“I’ve dreamed of owning my own place in Manhattan since I was 10 years old. The city just seemed so magical, and I knew I wanted a piece of it to call my own! I didn’t have a huge budget, but I had a goal,” writes Mindy Lai, who has owned this tiny 320-square-foot studio apartment in New York City’s Upper East Side for three years.

Credit: Erin Derby

“When I saw my home, I KNEW it was the one because it had sunlight, and a loft! The loft to me was an automatic ‘YES!’ because of the use of the space. Loft gets another major win because I’ve always wanted to have a treehouse and never had to chance to have one! Now I get to climb into my adult treehouse oasis to sleep every night!”

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern boho

Favorite Element: I’m not sure I can pick one element! I love it all because I got to renovate it and put it all together. All the plants that I put into this tiny space… sometimes break my heart but add so much. I love my forever tiles in the bathroom along with the one-piece toilet (easy to clean). I love my kitchen floor to cabinet to counter! I love the living room because of the staircase bookshelf and loft and COUCH!

Credit: Erin Derby

Mindy’s advice for renovating a small home:

  • Interview multiple contractors until you vibe with one. It makes the experience so much better when you hire the right people. Be picky!
  • Measure your space and draw your own floor plan when shopping for furniture! The one that the realtor has isn’t always accurate!
  • When you begin to shop for furniture, carry your own tape measure EVERYWHERE!
  • Choose a one-piece toilet if you can; it makes it so easy to clean!
  • Create your space for YOU; it’s your home!


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Door mat – Anthropologie
  • Closet — Alfa from The Container Store
Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Bins — The Container Store
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Bedding — Target, they always have the best sheets!
Credit: Erin Derby


Thanks Mindy!

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