A 528-Square-Foot NYC Studio Uses Art, Wallpaper, and Furniture to Create Distinct Zones
Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox
Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter
Name: Jung Hi Han
Location: Upper East Side — New York, New York
Size: 528 square feet
Type of home: Studio Apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting
Jung Hi Han, a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Compass, outgrew her last apartment, a 315-square-foot studio apartment on the Upper East Side, when the lockdown happened. “It was a nice place to sleep in, but not to work from home and spend all my waking hours in,” Jung Hi explains. She was able to stay on the Upper East Side when she found this 528-square-foot studio apartment to rent. Though slightly large than her last home, it’s still a studio without a separate bedroom, so she still had to cleverly designate separate zones. As with her last apartment, she uses wallpaper and art to visually separate her home’s living spaces, and in this rental she also employs a well-placed bookshelf to create an entryway.
Apartment Therapy Survey
My Style: I thought I was a minimalist, but my friend said that I have too many knickknacks for that. To which I replied that I have a curated selection of knickknacks, and they’re very organized.
Inspiration: My favorite period in art is Rococo, which is characterized by asymmetry, warm pastels, floral motifs, and playfulness. The last print I purchased was “Rocokitty” by Kukula, a Neo-Rococo artist.
Favorite Element: What I love the most about this apartment is the view. I can see the leaves change colors in Central Park, the twinkling lights of the George Washington Bridge at night, and out to New Jersey (my home state). Being in New York can feel claustrophobic with the tall buildings and crowds of people. When I’m in my apartment it feels open and calm.
Biggest Challenge: It’s still my preference to live in a studio because they feel more open, but because it’s just a large rectangle, I had to figure out how to arrange the furniture to make different areas. I used an IKEA bookcase to separate my “bedroom” from the entry, along with wallpaper to visually create a bedroom. I used the gallery wall in my “living room” to separate that space, and the two Tara McPherson prints to section off my “dining room.”
Proudest DIY: My proudest DIY in this apartment is that I put up the shelves in my walk-in closet to make it more of a dressing area (and maybe secretly so I can look at my shoes every day). The older I get, the more I understand how Carrie Bradshaw had so many shoes because your feet don’t grow as an adult. So, if you buy a few nice pairs of shoes a year, after a while they really start to accumulate. I did have a brief moment of panic that maybe if I didn’t buy the shoes, I could own instead of rent, but I did the math and it didn’t add up to a down payment.
Budget: I spent around $3,500 to furnish the apartment initially, but I sold all of my old furniture that I didn’t keep on Craigslist and made a little over $1,100. A set designer for a Netflix show purchased my old dining set with the vintage ice cream parlor chairs. I’m still waiting to see if I’ll see it again on TV someday.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? This is my first apartment with a dishwasher, and none of my dishes are dishwasher-safe (all my plates are either hand-painted with gold or platinum accents) so I’ve never run the dishwasher here and just use it as an oversized dish drying rack. I considered buying new dishes, but I love mine… enough to wash them by hand. I guess it’s not that unique, not like I’m storing shoes in my oven.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing, cleaning, or organizing tips you have: Something I worry about is sustainability. When I moved, I made sure to sell all of the furniture that I didn’t take with me. I also got used moving boxes for free on Craigslist, and tried to pack my belongings with as little waste as possible. I’m actually horrified by the amount of packing material you need to wrap plates and cups during a move, so I just slowly walked my plates and fragile items over from my last place, as I didn’t move far.
I mostly use Blueland products for cleaning when I can because they’re zero-waste. I just switched out my body wash for theirs, too.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My advice is to slowly start collecting things that you love, and eventually you will also have a curated selection of well-organized knickknacks.
PAINT & COLORS
- Apartment — Benjamin Moore “Decorator’s White”
- Bouclé sofa — Pottery Barn
- Bouclé pillow — Anthropologie
- Sheepskin pillow — IKEA
- Antelope print pillow — CB2 (discontinued)
- Bouclé chair — Poly & Bark
- Rug – Ruggable
- Coffee table — West Elm
- Side table — TJ Maxx
- Dresser — IKEA
- Blanc de Chine reticulated lamp — eBay
- Mirror — Wayfair
- Billy bookcase — IKEA
- Desk — West Elm (discontinued)
- Emily & Meritt bow chair — Pottery Barn Teen (discontinued)
- Ladder shelf — Overstock
- Neon tube light — DWR
LIVING ROOM — GALLERY WALL
- “Mr. Tiger” — Lora Zombie
- Lily print — Housing Works
- Venice print — Etsy
- Creature romance — DreamingOfJohnny
- “Wild Boys Sweet Dreams” — Andras Bartos
- “Dream Until It’s Your Realty” — Leviyev
- “Rocokitty” — Kukula
- “B and K in NYC!” — David Parise
- “The Businessmen’s Goodbye” print — Catrin Welz-Stein
- Vintage bird print — Etsy
- Wallpaper — Overstock
Thanks, Jung Hi!
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
Share your style: House Tour & House Call Submission Form