This Couple’s Tiny Bronx Studio’s Layout Makes It Feel Like a One-Bedroom

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Sunny dining room with hanging paper lantern.

Name: Carissa Kim Pintello and husband
Location: Bronx, New York City, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 546 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, renting

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Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live in our studio with my husband and our child/dog, Pepper. I was previously a public school teacher in Florida (such a bad time) with a vintage home goods business. I tried to juggle both jobs while starting an associate in interior design. I was so stressed and spread thin that I failed a very easy class. Clearly something wasn’t working, but I didn’t know how to move forward. My husband suggested we take a risk and I apply to my dream design school (The New York School of Interior Design), and if I got accepted, we could sell our house, quit jobs, and move to NYC. So here we are!

Our home tells the story of who we were, are, and want to become. With the downsize, we had to really process not only the functionality of objects, but also their significance. I used to think our 1,500-square-foot home in Florida was a “starter” home. However, moving into a dwelling almost a third of the size has taught us so much about space and materiality. We’ve learned how much we feel entitled to, yet how little we require. We’ve learned there just isn’t space in our lives for decorative pieces that don’t mean something special. We’ve also learned that if you have a roof over your head and an extra chair, then you have space worth sharing. There are a lot of assumptions we often subconsciously believe about space, place, people, and even ourselves. Moving to NYC and into our studio has been such a significant milestone and process in our lives.

I identify as a biracial woman. I am half Korean half Italian, and feel deeply moved and inspired by different cultures. I struggled a lot with racial identity as a child, and have finally gotten to experience ethnic pride and belonging as an adult. Our home serves as space for grounding in who we are, as well as a place to be inspired by the identity of others.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Globally inspired, narrative, nostalgic.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite space in our studio is our bedroom niche. I know you aren’t supposed to sit in bed all day, but I LOVE working from bed, and getting to look out the windows and see the city.

Also, I love the bathroom because I take a long bath almost every day.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I recently got a Tramp Art lamp from a flea market.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I think exploring what objects, forms, shapes, lines, etc. speak your design language is worth the investment. Expand your “design education” beyond TikTok, Pinterest, etc. Learn about what people have done throughout history, different design movements in different cultures; get inspired by nature, art, religion, raw materials. We are all being inspired by something, so the more knowledge and information you have on what is out there, the more exact you can be in learning what is you and what is not. Getting all your info secondhand, processed through someone’s account, is very limiting and stale. If we just keep buying trendy crap and style our homes based on what other people are doing, we aren’t learning about the world around us or ourselves.

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