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A Tropical Boho and Cuban Abuela Small/Cool Space

Name: KC Cibran

Size: 280 sq ft

Home type: Studio

Location: New York, New York

Years lived in: 4 months, rented

Household: My plants!

Have any design professionals worked on this space: No

Describe your space:

As a young girl in Miami, I knew I wanted to live in NYC from the moment I saw Kevin McCallister in Home Alone check into the Plaza. I quickly learned that on an assistant’s salary, I wouldn’t be living that large. This studio is my first in the city. I wanted to bring Cuban Miami to the Big Apple on a small budget. I hit up every sale, thrift and curbside find and made a little tropical getaway in the middle of Manhattan. When I walk in the door, I’m reminded of my roots. My home doesn't really fit a specific style (or a couch), but I love it here because every piece tells a different story.

Did you DIY anything in your space? And, if so, what's your favorite DIY?

My kitchen! I’m in a prewar building so the appliances are ancient and the color scheme is white yellow. I did a renter-friendly makeover. I used peel and stick tiles to put in a fake backsplash. I removed my cabinet doors and hid them under my bed to make an open concept kitchen. I then used secondhand baskets and crates for storage and IKEA shelf inserts to double my cabinet space. I also hung a produce bag on the wall to save counter space. I found this painting on the street ripped in half. After a successful superglue surgery, I put it above the cabinets to make the space look larger.

What's your favorite product that you bought for your space and where did it come from?

This TV stand was one of the first things I bought for the apartment and it really set a vibe for the whole space that I loved. That wall is the first thing you see when you walk in, so I wanted something there that would be cute, but also functional. I came across this beauty browsing one of Target’s beloved home sales. Then I bribed two of my friends to help me carry it up three flights of stairs. It took us a while to build and one of the doors is crooked, but I love how perfectly imperfect it is. It’s also like the Mary Poppins bag of TV stands! I can fit an alarming amount of things in there.

What inspires you?

My family and friends, traveling, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. When I was younger, watching Extreme Makeover was a family affair. I was mesmerized with the idea of transforming a space into a home, and that hasn’t changed. I live alone, so I like to fill my apartment with things that remind me of my loved ones—the giant frame I carried 10 blocks in the snow with Amanda, Abuela Pili’s butterfly planter, and a stained glass ornament from my best friend across the country. It’s a collection of where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced.