Two People Share This 300-Square-Foot NYC Studio That’s Unbelievably Chic Despite the Small Size

published Nov 3, 2022

Two People Share This 300-Square-Foot NYC Studio That’s Unbelievably Chic Despite the Small Size

published Nov 3, 2022
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Name: Michal Kolaczkowski and Trevor Kuhn
Location: Lincoln Center — Upper West Side, New York, NY
Size: Roughly 300 square feet
Type of Home: Top floor apartment in a prewar building
Years lived in: 7 months, renting

“At the start of this year, Trevor and I started our journey of moving into our own place together,” begins Michal Kolaczkowski, a Broadway dancer. “As much as we loved our roommates, we wanted a place of our own. As most of you all know, the rental market is extremely competitive this year, and we quickly learned how tough it was going to be to find, get approved, and close on our dream apartment. We originally wanted to live in Hell’s Kitchen to be close to our friends, and also I wanted to be close to work. I’m a Broadway dancer, and juggling rehearsals and shows can be quite a challenge if your commute is an hour or so. We viewed this studio apartment with a group of potential renters, and I think I accidentally talked everyone out of wanting this apartment. Trevor and I had a list of ‘must haves’ and even brought our own measuring tape. I walked around the apartment huffing and puffing, measuring, and quickly realized it would be a big challenge to furnish this place. The bed barely fit in the alcove. The storage was small and underwhelming. Fifth floor walkup? We passed on the place. And based on my critiques, so did the rest of potential renters.”

Credit: Erin Derby

Michal continues: “As time went on, our move-out date got closer and closer. We lost out on about 10 apartments due to bidding wars and, out of desperation, circled back to this studio. The renter that got approved backed out last minute and we got the place! Once we moved in and got creative, we fell in love with the place. Also, Lincoln Square has become our favorite neighborhood and I start rehearsals just down the street this week. The building was built in 1890 and our unit is on the top floor. It also just so happens that our floor is the only one that clears the building next door so we actually have stunning views of the UWS. And the tile in the kitchen and the brick fireplace are original to the unit.”

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mid-century Modern

Inspiration: ’70s New York and Queer Culture

Credit: Erin Derby

Favorite Element: The Squiggles Wallpaper from West Elm. I picked out the wallpaper before we even found an apartment. Pretty much everything had to work in harmony with this pattern.

Biggest Challenge: The size of the place was our biggest challenge. Two grown men living in 300 square feet and only two small closets is a challenge. It look a LOT of measuring, a little bit of luck, and compromising on space.

Credit: Erin Derby

Proudest DIY: Replacing two old light fixtures and adding a ceiling medallion.

Budget: I am a HUGE fan of recycling furniture. Almost everything was a hand-me-down, sidewalk find, or Facebook Marketplace purchase. We even found a stunning $550 lounge chair for $50. A $2000 CB2 couch for $300. It takes patience, but it’s possible to decorate on a smaller budget. Our biggest splurge was the wallpaper because my heart was set on it before we even started looking at apartments.

Credit: Erin Derby

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? When we originally viewed the apartment, the tenant was using the living area as a bedroom, and the alcove as a yoga studio. I wanted to make the most of this small space, so we squeezed the bedroom into the alcove. Also, there is no clear spot of a TV, so we had to wall mount it above the radiator, and the radiator serves as a TV stand. In NYC you must get creative!

Credit: Erin Derby

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have:

  1. Declutter. If you don’t need it, donate it.
  2. If you save on rent by picking a smaller space, invest in a storage unit to get things you rarely use out of the house.
  3. Get creative with cute storage options that can serve a dual purpose. (A seating bench with storage for example.)
  4. Maximize closet storage with shelving. Stack as high as the ceiling will allow!
  5. Choose side tables and nightstands with storage.
  6. I try to put as many things out of sight as possible. Even the biggest apartment will look small if it is cluttered.
  7. Keep things off the floor if you can. Furniture with legs will lift everything off the floor and make a small apartment look bigger.
  8. Create different sections in a small space that serve different purposes. (For example, a reading nook, a workspace, a restful bedroom area, etc.) Use a smart furniture layout, rugs, or even paint colors or wallpaper to differentiate these areas.
Credit: Erin Derby

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Start with a Pinterest board and collect all the things that catch your eye into one board. Most likely you will start to see a pattern. Once you are ready to start decorating your space, remember that it’s very similar to curating the perfect outfit. You can’t wear all your favorite things at once. You must edit as you go to complete a full and concise look.


Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Sofa — CB2
  • Atlas Grey Leather Chair — Lamps Plus
  • Helix Shelving and desk — CB2
  • Living room wall sconce — West Elm
  • Coffee Table — IKEA
  • Black side table — West Elm
  • Rug — Overstock
  • Dresser and matching nightstands — Overstock
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Bar Stools — Sidewalk find
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Red Geometric Rug IKEA



Thanks, Michal and Trevor!

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