Everything in this 450-Square-Foot NYC Studio Is Either Repurposed or Super Affordable

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Gray sofa with brown leather pillows next to white bookshelf with plants on top
Credit: Holly Tsai

Name: Holly Tsai
Location: Upper East Side — New York City, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 450 square feet (my landlord claims 500)
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

Credit: Holly Tsai
I really love the sunlight.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I moved to this apartment back in 2019. It is quite a steal — a spacious studio in a well-maintained elevator building, not to mention it is rent-stabilized. I admit I was mostly sold on the former tenant’s cute domestic shorthair, who surprisingly toured me through the entire apartment, but I later fell in love with the versatility of the space and the abundance of natural light. The apartment floor plan is a very long rectangle, so it is very easy to style. I am a political risk analyst, my work can be stressful and demanding sometimes, so I need a space that can be thought-provoking and calming at the same time.

Credit: Holly Tsai
My little WFH situation. The gold lamp is passed over from my friend who moved out of the country. It is one of the most sentimental items in my entire apartment.

I try to make my space gender-neutral by combining dark and sharp colors with peaceful artwork and plants. Edward Hopper is my favorite artist, so I hang a few of his canvas prints, I also emulated some of his paintings my own. Everything in my apartment is either repurposed or super affordable. Some of the furniture has been with me since my graduate school years. I just don’t feel the urge to replace them.

Credit: Holly Tsai
The overview of my living space. I am not a carpet person, and I like this "bare-bone" vibe. The wall art is actually two cheap prints I bought from Amazon. They've been with me for so many years. Moon and tide resemble life, at least in line with my perception of life, per se.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: I think my style is a mix of mid-century modern, Scandinavian, and industrial (maybe even a bit boho?)

Credit: Holly Tsai
The canvas print is Edward Hopper's "Rooms by the Sea." That little "Holly Jolly" decor was a random find at HomeGoods several years ago. It sort of has my name on it and brings this all-year-round festivity to my entryway.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite spot is my foyer. This apartment has a very long entry foyer (probably the reason why my landlord claims it is 500 square feet?). It helps create a statement and a natural flow of energy before you see the rest of the apartment.

Credit: Holly Tsai
My little console. (Need to stock up my wine.)

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The body-shaped lamp on top of my console.

Credit: Holly Tsai
This is my little dining nook. I got a walnut wood pub table (a bit defective) and faux leather bar stools, and surprisingly, they look good together. The vase is from West Elm. The tallow berries are from Bloomist. I like the zen vibe they create, giving this soft contrast to my wood table and leather chairs.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t try to follow a certain kind of style. Just mix and match the individual pieces you like.

Credit: Holly Tsai
A peek at my kitchen. I hung Edward Hopper's "The Cat Boat" to cover the electricity panel. The two Peking opera magnets are gifted by my friend, one of those little things to blend in my cultural heritage.

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