A 450-Square-Foot NYC Rental Fits a Surprising Number of Deep, Textured Wall Paint Colors

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Name: Laurel Woerner, partner, cats Hex and Havoc, lots of plants, and the occasional nesting pigeon
Location: NYC, Lower East Side
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 450 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Before I found this apartment, I had been deep in a minimalist phase, dreaming about empty white rooms with a single artfully placed monstera leaf. But this apartment I fell in love with was an ancient pre-war with crumbling red brick, a zillion coats of paint, and not a right angle to be found. I loved that it looks out onto the Williamsburg Bridge — you can literally see the people and cars pulsing in and out of Manhattan — and the rhythm of our specific block. It’s not a “good” apartment, but it’s the best place I’ve ever lived.

We live on top of a psychic shop, a nightclub, and ramen bar, so you can imagine there’s always something interesting happening when you walk out onto the street. The line from the club goes past our door on the weekends, so you have to squeeze through the people to get to our door and we hear people having fun as we call it a night. I like hearing the sounds of the city — I Shazam the bangers from cars driving into the city to party and watch people walking across the bridge from our fire escape. We’ve gotten to know our neighbors: Jill, who lives in a renovated matzoh factory, the stoned guys who run our local pet store with their cat Blaze, our tailor Mustapha, the guy who sells paletas on the corner in the summer and hawks pamphlets on Jesus the other nine months.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Tenement, but make it romantic.

I couldn’t ignore the personality of our home, so I ended up ditching my minimalist dreams and leaning in to create a layered, romantic vibe inspired by the exoticized kitsch of the psychic shop on the ground floor. I painted each room a deep, textured color. I hunted down cheap vintage furniture and added excessive amounts of rugs, curtains, fairy lights, and incense, and we even had one of the local lighting shops make a neon psychic sign for us based on a sketch. It’s been an amazing place to live and bring our friends.

What is your favorite room and why? The bedroom! As you progress deeper into the apartment, the colors get deeper, and the rooms have more soft textures, pulling you into the deep-red bedroom. On Sundays, this is my favorite place to sleep in, snuggle our cats, and lounge around in the sun together. I got lazy and only did one coat of wall paint, but it ended up with texture that looks amazing when the light hits. Plus, there’s a built-in bed nook!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My grandma is a poet and translator, and on the side she collects Latin American textiles (she’s much cooler than me). She recently sent me the poncho hanging above the dresser — it really pulls the room together.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t hold back on making the space your own if you think you’re going to be there for a while. My friends definitely gave me sh*t for painting the ceilings on a rental, but it was totally worth putting in the work for the enjoyment I’ve gotten over the years.

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