A 600-Square-Foot NYC Apartment Is Filled with Natural Light, Small Space Ideas, and Clever Book Displays

A 600-Square-Foot NYC Apartment Is Filled with Natural Light, Small Space Ideas, and Clever Book Displays

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Name: Matthew, Carolyn, Shadow the cat. We’re nobodies, but Shadow is a minor celebrity on Instagram)
Location: Tribeca / Manhattan
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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We call our home the Tribeca Lighthouse. Yes, because it’s in Tribeca and has lots of light, but mostly because of the five flights of stairs you need to climb to get here. The apartment is just 600 square feet, but the 13-foot ceilings and white wooden floors make it appear much larger. It fools us, anyway. The exposed beams, soaking tub, and working fireplace all make it seem too good to be true, really. But it wasn’t always that way; we renovated it a couple of years back. It originally looked okay, but, like a film set where everything is just a facade, our apartment had virtually none of the basics. There were no bedroom doors or closets or appliances. There was an oven, but that’s it.

Credit: Matthew Page

The biggest overhaul was to the bathroom. It was a shrine to the ’80s with nothing but a shower, sink, and toilet. But we were able to turn it into a multi-purpose pod, containing a bathroom and laundry with a loft space overhead. The loft, accessible by a movable library ladder, houses a guest bed, storage cabinet, and bookshelf. And we exposed the beams above it for some extra headroom.

Credit: Matthew Page

In the bedroom we raised the previously lowered ceiling, then pushed back the wall between the bedroom and dining area by about three feet to make room for a dining table. When we rebuilt these walls, we added closets and ceiling-height pocket doors (which of course we never use) to separate it from rest of the space.

It seems like a lot of work just for a dining table, but having a workspace like that was super important to us. Because as well as being creative directors in advertising, we produce a lot of side projects from our home, such as illustrated books and our latest endeavor, a line of furniture for cats, called catwalc.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Minimalist and light, with a restrained color palette, featuring natural materials like oiled oak, honed marble, and aniline leather. Any permanent fixtures like the kitchen should be simple and practical but not intrusive—no unnecessarily bulky cabinets. We look for classic furniture with a small footprint, which usually means Scandinavian- or Japanese-inspired pieces. No area should be wasted, everything should be as functional as it is beautiful. And let’s not forget cat friendly; there should be some good places to climb.

Ultimately, we try to adapt to the existing space and allow the original features to inform the final design. Our apartment was built circa 1901. It has 13-foot ceilings, an ornate fireplace, exposed brick, and very few dividing walls. It’s a mix of older European, meets mini New York loft. So we let that be the starting point.

Credit: Paul Barbera

Inspiration: Our biggest inspiration came from the places we rented in Manhattan as well as all the open houses we attended. Take the bookshelf at the edge of the loft for instance; we spotted that feature in an apartment we inspected a few months earlier. The marble window-sill boxes were added because Shadow liked to sleep on the ones in our previous rental. And the large Saarinen Knoll table was inspired by an Airbnb we stayed at while the renovation was underway.

Favorite Element: Carolyn would say the soaking tub. I’d say the cement bathroom tiles. They’re beautiful, our cat loves them because they’re heated, and they contrast really well with the white, painted wood floors.

Credit: Matthew Page

Biggest Challenge: We were concerned about having a shower rail suspended over the bathtub as it would clutter the room. So, we had the idea of creating a recessed oval-shaped curtain track, flush-mounted into the ceiling. But finding someone to do it and getting it made in time for the builders to finish the bathroom was quite a struggle.

Proudest DIY: When we exposed the beams above the loft, we noticed a missing wood slat in the roof near the front wall and could see a cavity above it. So we had the builders remove that section and now there’s a taller, angled section of ceiling between the last beam and the front wall of the apartment. This gives you extra head room when you step off the ladder. We used our “not very considerable” DIY skills to install a wooden rod between the rafters for hanging those laundry items not safe for the dryer.

Credit: Matthew Page

Biggest Indulgence: That would be our most recent purchase, the Muuto Outline Sofa. It’s almost impossible not to fall asleep on.

Best Advice: If you have your own style, you don’t need our advice. But if design isn’t your thing, ask for help from that friend with good taste. Or if you have to, pay an expert. You won’t regret it.



  • Walls — “Wedding Veil White” Benjamin Moore
  • Floors and Cabinetry — “Cotton Wood” Benjamin Moore
Credit: Matthew Page


Credit: Paul Barbera


Credit: Paul Barbera


Credit: Matthew Page


Credit: Paul Barbera


Thanks Matthew, Carolyn, and Shadow!

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