This 400-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Is a Slice of Paris in Brooklyn
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Name: Meghan Donovan
Location: Brooklyn Heights, New York City
Size: 400 square feet
Type of Home: Studio apartment
Years Lived In: Nine months, renting
When longtime New York City resident and Francophile Meghan Donovan moved to her new apartment last August, she knew right off the bat that she wanted to create her own slice of Paris in Brooklyn. In addition to running her lifestyle blog, wit + whimsy, Meghan also manages Paris Perfected, a service she founded to guide travelers visiting the City of Lights, taking into account everything from budget to cuisine preference. Thus, turning her space into a Parisian-inspired getaway — complete with a faux fireplace mantel that is très chic — was the obvious answer!
Meghan has lived in Brooklyn Heights since 2017. “It is the first place that truly felt like a special neighborhood during my 10 years in New York City,” she says. “I’ve fallen in love with its charm and waterfront and people, so I really hoped to stay in the neighborhood when having to move.” When searching for a space, Donovan had a list of non-negotiables that helped narrow her search. “For me, when looking for an apartment, I really prioritize neighborhood, natural light, closet space and having a dishwasher,” she explains. Donovan’s favorite feature of her apartment? The windows. “They flood the unit with light and have so much character,” she says.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Brooklyn meets Paris. I love how it marries my modern Parisian influences and inspirations (clean lines and contrast) with my maximalist cozy tendencies (textured pillows and blankets and touches of gold). The more structured pieces evoke Brooklyn minimalism and will stand the test of time.
Inspiration: I wanted a space that would evoke French influences with a Brooklyn aesthetic. Proper Shoppe helped guide this direction by culling through my blog and personal style photos and worked to identify my tailored style. They then helped achieve this same type of feel in my apartment by mixing geometric prints with texture and purposeful pops of color in small ways (pillows, plants, etc.).
Favorite Element: The mantel! I searched high and low for one to add to the space and it serves as a focal point in the apartment that brings me joy day in and day out. I have always wanted a Paris apartment with a mantel and now I can imagine I am in Paris every morning when I wake up at home in New York City.
It took several months of searching and asking around and emailing junk yards and antique stores and going upstate to look in warehouses full to the brim. But I just couldn’t find ‘the one.’ The vibe had to be European and — toughest of all — under 50 inches wide. (Oh and not to mention I needed the cost to be less than the several thousands of dollars many reclaimed French mantels go for!) I am so glad I was patient though as this beauty came into my life in February and I absolutely love it. I am eternally grateful to Molly at Mantel House DC for sourcing it and getting it to New York for me.
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was making the space feel functional yet more spacious than a studio generally does. I had to get creative with storage in order to ensure the place didn’t feel cluttered but instead chic and streamlined. The kitchen is also very small and lacks counter space, but it had a dishwasher unlike so many units in Brooklyn Heights, so I make it work!
Proudest DIY: I am so glad I held out to find and install the perfect mantel for the space. It was crucial in bringing my Paris apartment in NYC vision to life and I love how it serves as a focal point in the entire apartment.
I also absolutely love how the Chasing Paper removable wallpaper turned out in my foyer! I had never put up wallpaper in a rental before, but I envisioned this vignette the moment I saw the apartment to tour it before I signed a lease, and I thought it would be the perfect spot for a more bold statement wall. I love how it looks with the Room and Board Kenwood Cabinet and Anthropologie Mirror.
Biggest Indulgence: My custom window treatments from Everhem were the biggest expenditure in the space but they are invaluable to me! The shades are room darkening and the drapes add so much warmth to the space. They allow for privacy and for better sleep. I will absolutely be getting Everhem window treatments wherever I move next.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? My dining table doubles as my office. The Room and Board Aria Table with Quartz Top and June Chairs nook is where you can often find me enjoying my space. I love the bistro-style feel and being able to sit next to the open windows as a breeze and sun spills in. So often studio apartments don’t allow for dining tables, but it was a priority for me after too many years of eating meals on my couch! I love to cook, so being able to eat the fruits of my labor at a proper dining table really brings me a lot of contentment.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love my Alex Soffer art commission so much, as it really evokes an old French chateau or wine cellar feel with all its texture. It adds a lot to the living area and I think it beautifully ties in the mantel, the window treatments, and the rest of the furniture. It was wonderful to have my first experience with a commission be with a local artist who turned out to be a neighbor of mine and turned into a friend in the process!
I also brought over the light fixtures from my last place and love how much charm and interest they add to the foyer and living area. The chandeliers are much more striking than the token rental lighting that was in the space before.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I learned so much from my designers Proper Shoppe through this process but two of the most important lessons were:
- The power of art in a space to draw the eye around. I had never owned any paintings before, and having true art — and not just prints — in my space has been such a game changer. They add a lot of personality to the space and I love that they will be investments I own for forever.
- Less is more. I own too much and often allow spaces to gather clutter. Proper Shoppe opened my eyes to the beauty when surfaces are kept more clean and “visual noise” is eliminated.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Be patient! I so often want to move into a space and rush to get it done. This time I allowed myself to really enjoy the process and be patient with decisions. I also needed patience as all my Room and Board furniture was custom made and it was 100 percent worth the months of waiting to get the pieces, as they are so beautifully made and feel really tailored to the space. Taking the time and money to invest in the space you call home is worth it. I now come home and truly do feel at home.
- Kenwood Bar Cabinet with Ceramic Top — Room and Board
- Primrose Mirror — Anthropologie
- Wallpaper — Chasing Paper
- Paradox Vase — Jonathan Adler
- Ceramic Box — Jonathan Adler
- Paris Chic Book — Amazon
- Parisian Interiors Book — Amazon
- Pressed Mimosa Print framed via Simply Framed
- Paris and New York City Prints (purchased in Paris) framed via Simply Framed
- Headboard — The Inside
- Bedding — Brooklinen
- Textured Pillow — Anthropologie
- Shams — Annie Selke
- Nightstand — West Elm
- Lamp — Crate and Barrel
- Marble Tray — CB2
- Rebecca Plotnick Paris Print framed via Simply Framed
- Ilana Greenberg Print (Charish Shop)
- UGG Shearling Bedside Rug — Nordstrom
- Studio Marcette Bedroom Rug
- Chanel Book — Amazon
- Hotel Chic at Home Book — Amazon
- In Vogue Book — Amazon
- Hudson Dresser with Wood Base — Room and Board
- Dresser Mirror — Wayfair
- Black Lacquer Gallery Frame — Williams Sonoma
- Black Eclipse Table Lamp — Kara Mann for CB2
- Brass Hand — Jonathan Adler
- Vase — Jonathan Adler
- Standing Mirror — CB2
- Vase — Crate and Barrel
- Artificial Pampas Grass Plumes — Crate and Barrel
- Dried Grass — Crate and Barrel
- Garment Rack — West Elm
- Floating Bookshelf — Container Store
- Alex Soffer Commissioned Diptyqye Painting
- Caitlin Sofa — Interior Define
- Coffee Table — Pottery Barn
- Decorative Concrete Box — CB2
- Acrylic Tray — CB2
- Maison: Parisian Chic at Home Book — Amazon
- Vogue and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Book — Amazon
- Kate Spade SHE Book — Amazon
- Cane Room Divider — Crate and Barrel
- Bree Chair — Room and Board
- Suede Band Pillow — Restoration Hardware
- Luxe Faux Fur Lumbar Pillow — Restoration Hardware
- Alpaca Copper Pillow — CB2
- Graphic Pillow — Jayson Home
- Throw — Jenni Kayne
- Crosshatch Rug — Annie Selke
- Mantel sourced via Mantle House DC
- Ally Sheppard Painting
- Grammatical Paris Print framed via Simply Framed
- Relic Bowl — Jayson Home
- Vintage French Books sourced — La Porte Bonheur
- Vintage Brass Candlesticks — Etsy
- Birch Logs — Crate and Barrel
- Pillar Candles — Crate and Barrel
- Candle Coasters — Crate and Barrel
- Case Study Ceramic Planter — Room and Board
- Ottoman — Studio McGee x Threshold
- Crystal Spheres — CB2
- Havenly Books
- Aria 27″ Table with Quartz Top — Room and Board
- June Chairs — Room and Board
- Bar Cart — Pier 1
- Nespresso Machine — Williams Sonoma
- Everhem Window Treatments
- Scallop Marble Hurricane — CB2
- Cedar Candle — Jenni Kayne
- Candle Cloche — Crate and Barrel
- Chanel Catwalk Book — Amazon
- New York Coffee Table Book — Amazon
- Tom Ford Book — Amazon
- Floor Lamp — Target
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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