A Comfy, Colorful Mix: 330 Square Feet in the East Village

published Jun 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Name: Mark and Emily (and Kally the cat)
Location: East Village; New York, New York
Size: 330 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

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Emily and Mark’s East Village apartment may be small, but it’s bursting with light and color. They make small space living look easy — somehow they’ve managed to squeeze all the things that two people need to live (and work!) into 330 square feet, and still create a cozy, beautiful home.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)
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The living room. (Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

If Emily and Mark’s East Village apartment looks a little familiar, it’s because it was featured in our 2014 Small Cool Contest. Lots of you had questions about the floor plan, which is admittedly a bit unusual. When the apartment was converted from a tenement, the landlord added toilet and shower cubbies next to the kitchen. It’s a super-efficient layout — the kitchen sink also doubles as the bathroom sink — and means that even though the apartment is little, it’s divided into three distinct rooms: the living room, kitchen/dining room, and (very very small) bedroom.

Storage is a bit of a challenge with only one closet, but Emily and Mark make do. In the dining area is an IKEA Pax wardrobe which provides extra clothes storage (it wouldn’t fit in the kitchen!) and things are tucked away on shelves mounted on the walls and above the cabinets. Everywhere you turn you’ll see smart small space solutions — and art and color and plants and all the accoutrements of a happy life.

(Image credit: Community Import)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A comfortable eclectic mix of midcentury and vintage, with some modern elements. We mostly work with things we’ve had previously and mix in thoughtful new pieces that respect the small space.

Inspiration: Our inspiration is finding key pieces that perfectly balance form and function.

Favorite Element: The apartment has a very good flow from room to room while maintaining clear separate spaces. The apartment layout is much the same as it was originally when it was tenement housing.

Biggest Challenge: The kitchen layout is so odd, it’s been difficult to find a way to squeeze in a table. We’ve cycled through several tables trying to find one that works well, and I think we found it! Mark also has a small audio mixing rig set up in the living room, and it’s a challenge to keep the work/live balance in check.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

What Friends Say: It’s so small but very comfortable!

Biggest Embarrassment: The high storage is pretty unsightly. It’s a huge project on our horizon to sort through and better manage our organization system. The organization is such a delicate ecosystem, so if one thing doesn’t get put back right away the mess can overtake the apartment pretty quickly.

Proudest DIY: That’s marble contact paper on the kitchen table! We also had to cut out a corner of the purple rug in the living room to wrap around the built out closet. The rug is so perfect the size it is, it would have been a mistake to downsize just to accommodate the closet.

Biggest Indulgence: The coffee table was a splurge (for Craigslist). Emily went to check out a different table listed and saw this one off to the side of the room where the seller was contemplating listing it. There was no haggle: Emily accepted the first price the seller offered. The curved wood and the caned shelf are just the perfect elements we didn’t even know we needed in a coffee table.

Best Advice: When starting from scratch or combining households for the first time, start with inexpensive, easy to replace basics. Listen to the space, go slowly adding/replacing things, and see how they feel. Don’t feel like you have to keep something that’s not working. If it really doesn’t fit, get rid of it and have fun finding something that does. Look around to find that perfect puzzle piece that adds joy to your home.

Dream Sources: Furnish Green. We haven’t actually purchased anything from there yet, but we’re always eyeballing their furniture online and in store. When we score hand-me-downs from family that are similar to what we’ve seen at Furnish Green, it’s a huge win. If we won the lottery we’d go bananas there.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)



• Benjamin Moore Palm Trees (living room) • Benjamin Moore Morning Sunshine (kitchen)

• Benjamin Moore Beau Green (bedroom)


• Bolu Wool Rug: West Elm • Bookshelf: Family hand-me-down • Elfa Shelves: Container Store • Snille Swivel Chair: IKEA • Wicker Nesting Tables: Hand-me-down from Emily’s Grandmother • Pink Tufted Chair: GSG Vincent Furniture Restoration, Cortland NY • Mardi Gras Print: Hand-me-down from Mark’s Aunt • Draper Media Cabinet: Urban Outfitters • Cat Window Chaise: Amazon • Poul Jensen Table: Craigslist • End Table + Glass Lamp: Family hand-me-downs • Karlstad Loveseat: IKEA (Craigslist find) • Portrait + Baby Painting (over loveseat): George Dugan • Kallax 2×2: IKEA • Blue Typewriter Table: Hand-me-down from Emily’s Grandmother • Bentwood Chair: Curb find

• Embroidered Pendant Shade: Urban Outfitters


• Safavieh Natural Kilim Wool Rug: Overstock • Pax Wardrobe: IKEA + wood print contact paper • Melltorp Table: IKEA + marble print contact paper • Pony Tweed Chairs: CB2 (Craigslist find) • Ivar Shelves: IKEA

• Nymo Pendant Shade: IKEA


• Pintuck Duvet Cover: West Elm • Ikat Stripe Sheets: West Elm • Headboard: Craigslist find • Soundwave Print (over headboard): Voice Art Gallery • Side Table: GSG Vincent Furniture Restoration, Cortland NY • Triple Tiered Pendant Shade: Urban Outfitters • Wall Mural: Rasterbator

• Half Moon Seagrass Hamper: Kmart

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

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