A 600-Square-Foot NYC Rental Shows How to Get a High-End Look on a Low-End Budget

A 600-Square-Foot NYC Rental Shows How to Get a High-End Look on a Low-End Budget

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Bedrooms
Square feet
600
Sq ft
600

Name: Lindsay Colby, Interior Designer, works at Dan Fink Studio, my fiancé Alex
Location: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn New York
Size: 600 square feet
Type of Home: One-bedroom apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

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As a creative and lover of the arts, I’ve always been enamored with old buildings and neighborhoods, but as a minimalist, I also prioritized finding a light-filled apartment with clean lines. My fiancé Alex, a real estate investor, loves to explore interesting pockets of the city, so he led the charge in finding our one-bedroom apartment. It’s in a building sitting between three charming neighborhoods—Fort Green, Clinton Hill, and Prospect Heights—and we couldn’t be happier with where we landed.

When it came time to decorate, however, Alex handed the reins over to me.  As an interior designer, I was thrilled to have such a gorgeous blank canvas to work with, from the tasteful finishes in the kitchen and bathroom to the large windows that flood the space with light. A sizeable kitchen island, which opens to the rest of the living space for an airy open layout, makes up for the lack of a dedicated dining area and makes the apartment especially entertaining-friendly.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I blend traditional and modern in a serene color palette using a mix of materials to keeps things interesting.

Inspiration: Overall, I find spaces that have been carefully considered, with a lot of restraint, to be very beautiful. I’ve had the opportunity to work with great design icons who I feel epitomize this idea—the likes of Tory Burch, Daniel Romualdez, Alyssa Kapito, and, most recently, Dan Fink—and I also study master modern painters and ceramicists, like Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, and Simone Bodmer.

Inspiration also comes from physical places. I adore Italy, having studied art history in Florence while in college, and this love reveals itself in many ways in my aesthetic (my wedding is actually in Lake Como next year!). When I can’t be in Italy, I turn to my own city: NYC’s varied architecture serves as an endless fount of inspiration as well.

Favorite Element: I absolutely love the marble pedestal in my living room (aside from the coveted in-unit washer/dryer! I love that too!). An unbelievable score from Apt Deco ($75!), it elevates the space and reminds me of Italian classical architecture.

Biggest Challenge: Designing on a budget is always a challenge, but, of all the challenges, it may be the most enjoyable one. I took inspiration from high-end interiors and found ways to achieve those looks in a more budget-friendly way. There was a lot of bargain hunting, both online and in person, to find the perfect piece at the right price. My favorite consignment sources include AptDeco and Kaiyo (online), and Décor NYC and Porter James of New York (stores). A trip to the Restoration Hardware outlet in the Brooklyn Navy Yard proved to be particularly successful, when I was able to snag my black marble coffee table and Marcel club chair for a fraction of the retail cost. And I always keep an eye out for a good deal, like the goldfish vase from a Brooklyn Heights stoop sale for $30 (with the $400 tag still attached!).

Passed-down family pieces add a lot of character, like the oak secretary from my parents and the beautiful Ansel Adams photograph from my future in-laws, which hangs above a nightstand. The rattan armoire was a Craigslist gem acquired a few years back that serves as the perfect case piece in the bedroom.  

Aside from secondhand and bargain finds, I made some decisions that kept me financially on track: a sisal for the living room rather than a more expensive woven rug, for example. Sofas can get quite pricey, so I purchased from Maiden Home, where I was able to select my own fabric and wood type to make the process feel a bit more custom. And no budget project is complete without a quick trip to IKEA to fill in the blanks! The round wood side table and high gloss media unit in my living room did just that.

The piece of art over the bed is an artistic replication of painter Josh Young's artwork that Lindsay Colby painted herself, for her own personal use.

Proudest DIY: The art on the walls! Almost all of the art in my apartment is made and framed by yours truly. I recently rediscovered and framed several photographs that I made while in college, as well as some photos of my past European travels. For the large paintings over the sofa and bed, I drew inspiration from some of my favorite painters and made studies of their works, which, at their oversized dimensions, would have otherwise been very pricey. Of course, I will never forget hauling the enormous canvas that I have installed above the sofa on the subway—such is NYC living!

Biggest Indulgence: We splurged on an upholstered king size bed from Restoration Hardware. Well worth it!

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The open layout allows for a truly multi-purpose room: living hang-out space, work-from-home office during Covid times, and I even use the kitchen counter as my painting studio.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? As a potter, I’ve love building my ceramic collection—either with pieces I have made myself or particularly special ones that catch my eye. My fiancé and I are also quite the wine lovers, and we’ve had a lot of fun starting a collection of good wines. Always important to have on hand if a friend stops by unexpectedly or to keep the party going!

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’ve found that putting large furniture in a small space actually enlarges the room, so I wasn’t afraid of putting a big coffee table, a sizable secretary, and an oversized sisal area rug in our living area. I also needed to fully utilize the room, so I tried out an asymmetrical layout—something I never thought I would do—out of necessity. I’m really happy with the results.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Vintage! The price is often right and it adds a sense of history and depth to a space.  The pieces that have the most character on the apartment—armoire, pedestal, secretary—are all vintage, whether family pieces or secondhand finds. I can hardly imagine the apartment without them!

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

  • Living, Kitchen, Bedroom Walls — Benjamin Moore “Calm”
  • Living, Kitchen, Bedroom Doors & Moldings — Benjamin Moore “Super White”
  • Bathroom Walls — Benjamin Moore “Stonington Gray”

LIVING ROOM

  • Sisal Area rug — Crate and Barrel
  • The Crosby Sofa — Maiden Home
  • Lucia Chenille Pillows — Pottery Barn
  • Nicholas Marble Coffee table — RH
  • Vejmon Side table — IKEA
  • Lotus Leaf Table lamp — Vaughan
  • Jamie Round Metal Accent Table — Pottery Barn
  • Jenson Dark Bronze Pharmacy Floor Lamp — Lamps Plus
  • Marcel Club Chair — RH
  • Custom Lumbar Pillow — Carolina Irving patmos stripe fabric
  • Walnut stool/side table — Vintage, Family piece  
  • Classic Klismos Fabric Side Chair — RH
  • Mostorp High Gloss Media unit — IKEA
  • Marble Vintage Pedestal — Apt Deco
  • Secretary Desk — Vintage, Family piece
  • Terri Large Round Table Lamp — Visual Comfort
  • Leather Basket — Mitchell Gold  +Bob Williams
  • Vintage Chrome Magazine Rack — Etsy
  • Photograph of Rodin museum (on secretary) — By me
  • (with Ribba Frame — IKEA)
  • Crown art (on secretary) — Vintage, Family piece
  • Art (above sofa) — By me  
  • Photographs (above pedestal) — Nicole Cohen
  • Green bowl (on round end table) — By me
  • White textured vase (on pedestal) — Alice Goldsmith

KITCHEN

  • Hammered Counter Stools — Global Views, reupholstered by me
  • Reupholster counter stools in Imposter Buff vinyl — Holly Hunt
  • Black Pedestal Bowl — CB2
The piece of art over the bed is an artistic replication of painter Josh Young's artwork that Lindsay Colby painted herself, for her own personal use.

BEDROOM

  • Lucent Area Rug  — West Elm
  • Vintage Rattan Armoire — Craigslist
  • Armoire Knobs — Anthropologie
  • Goldfish Vase — Brooklyn Stoop Sale
  • Art (above bed) — An artistic replication of painter Josh Young’s artwork that Lindsay Colby painted herself, for her own personal use.
  • Hemnes Dresser — IKEA
  • Replacement Tapered Polished nickel knobs for dresser — CB2
  • Mirror — CB2
  • Hackney Table lamp — Visual Comfort
  • Grace Side Table — Ballard
  • Square Column Accent Lamp — RH
  • Lawson Upholstered Bed — RH
  • Malm side table — IKEA
  • Photograph (above nightstand) — Ansel Adams

BATHROOM

  • Woven waste basket — Target
  • Shower curtain — CB2
  • Photograph — Society6

Thanks Lindsay! And special thanks to Jacqueline Clair Photography for the photos!

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