Evan’s Modern & Cozy Manhattan Studio

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Name: Evan Pohl
Location: Upper East Side, Manhattan
Size: 295 square feet
Years lived in: 18 months; rented

It’s not always easy to edit your life down to under 300 square feet, but Evan Pohl makes it look effortless. Not only is he faced with the challenge of small space living; landlord restrictions keep things limited with a strict no-paint rule. There is very little natural light — one window and a door facing west — yet Evan’s space feels bright and airy due to some seriously top-notch decorating. His aesthetic and his love of design has not gone unnoticed, as he has recently been asked to design a new office space in Manhattan.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Evan Pohl is Head of Development at the Manhattan-based independent production company Reno Productions. His love of film is incorporated into his interior, and movie pieces sneak in from small to large: an Eddie Murphy print is beautifully framed in the back nook, while a Stanley Kubrick-inspired side table showcases art and film books. Everything in the apartment shines, but two standouts are a 1930’s American flag found by Evan’s mother in Minnesota, as well as the light fixture he built himself (inspired by designer Lindsey Adelman), hanging gorgeously over the bed.

In Manhattan, private outdoor space is highly coveted, and to make up for the lack of windows inside there is a screen door leading to a private patio, giving Evan and his adorable dog Finn access to the outside world (more patio photos here). With string lights and a brightly colored mat, the outdoor space has as much character as the indoor one. Evan has added personal touches with hand-painted arrows (check out his documented DIY), antiques, a black-stained teak table, and potted plants.

Through Evan’s space we are reminded that you can live large in a small space with creativity and thoughtfulness. Whether your items are free from the dumpster or high-end from Design Within Reach, a great sense of humor will help keep your design afloat. As Evan himself says on his website, you can make any house into a home.

For before, after, and everything-in-between photos in the evolution of Evan’s studio, visit his inspiring blog This Is Not A House.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would call my style eclectic midcentury modernism that’s a little rough around the edges. I’m drawn to structure, pops of color, dark woods, rich finishes, coarse textures, contrasting patterns, moody lighting, and mixing old and new and high and low-end materials. I’m a big fan of design that contextualizes your surroundings, so I prefer buying local. I love upcycling and repurposing pieces—it adds character and gives the room a totally unique narrative. But really my style evolves with each new project! I’m having a blast chronicling my [mis]adventures on the blog This Is Not A House.

Inspiration: I follow A LOT of design blogs and I’m constantly trolling Pinterest for new ideas. People in the blogosphere are doing some amazing things with their spaces, and it’s very inspiring to see other designers at work! I find a lot of inspiration from production design, too. All of Nancy Meyers’ films, The Kids Are All Right, The Talented Mr. Ripley, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Meryl Streep’s loft in The Hours, Colin Firth’s home in A Single Man and Kim Basinger’s bungalow in LA Confidential are a few that really stand out as influential moments for me.

Favorite Element: My bed rests against a large wall just big enough to support an American flag from the 1930s, something my mom found while antiquing in Minnesota. None of my previous apartments could hold such a large frame (5 ½’ x 3 ½‘), so it’s really a treat to wake up every morning and have it be the first thing I see.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge about living in a one-room apartment is creating defined and distinctively different areas for working, dinning and relaxing. I wanted my bed to only be a place where I recharged my battery — not where I brought my laptop, ate dinner or balanced my checkbook — so that was tough to figure out when your entire living area has to double as your bedroom. Wait, wait, wait — there are two big challenges! I’m a renter and my lease says if I paint my walls I will suffer bodily harm at the hands of the management company, so drawing out a sense of warmth and hominess from stark white walls was a big hurdle to overcome, too.

What Friends Say: My friends have all said my apartment feels homey, and I feel fortunate they want to spend time in my space, even though it’s small. A few have asked for help with their apartments and that is really thrilling for me — when someone trusts you enough to invite you into their home and rearrange their things — especially when they have a sense of style. It’s those collaborations that make design projects the most fun.

Biggest Embarrassment: My first foray into electrical engineering did not end well, when I tried to replace my kitchen’s ceiling light with an industrial-style pendant and instead knocked out the power to my entire building. At 10pm. In the middle of July. During a heatwave. That was a lesson in how not to make friends with your new neighbors. If you don’t know the difference between your ground, live and neutral wires I suggest spending some time on YouTube before Bob Vila-ing it.

Proudest DIY: I’m most proud of the chandelier I made (and successfully wired) above my bed, inspired by a Lindsey Adelman design. After the disaster that was my kitchen lamp I really felt like a ham-fisted jerk, but the chandelier project proved I could make something handsome and not burn down my apartment, which gave me a heap of much needed confidence!

Biggest Indulgence: A Saarinen side table in Arabescato marble by Eero Saarinen for Knoll. Stanley Kubrick used them in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I remember how blown away I was by the film as a kid. The Saarinen aesthetic is very evocative of that memory, and for that reason it’s so much more than just a piece of furniture. I really had to save and sacrifice to buy it, but every time I look at it I’m reminded of the film.

Best Advice: Set a budget and go about filling your space with things you want to wake up to every morning — regardless of where they comes from — as long as they’re meaningful to you and don’t break the bank. I have everything in my apartment, from Design Within Reach and Room & Board to IKEA, Army Surplus, and the street (my favorite), and I try to imbue each piece with a story or memory. It’s important to remember that no matter how much money you have you need to operate within a limit, and the idea that style is only for those with big budgets is a total fallacy.

Dream Sources: Garbage day in New York alone is a dream source, but if I didn’t have a budget…Design Within Reach, Bespoke Global, Hive Modern, Smeg, Viking, Muuto, Tom Dixon, Hinson & Co., Modernica, Jonathan Adler, Sur La Table, Brimfield Antique Show…the list could go on and on.

(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

Resources of Note:


  • Slim Half-Round Console Table: Room & Board
  • Hermès ashtray: Thrift store
  • “Untitled (Diamond Dolly II)” by Joe Sinness: From artist
  • STAVE Storage Wall Mirror: IKEA
  • Dome Pedestal Alarm Clock by Newgate: Barnes & Noble
  • “Running Reservation Horses” by Kevin Russ:

  • Hemnes dresser: IKEA
  • Dark ceramic table lamp: West Elm
  • Nelson Tripod Clock: Craigslist
  • Leather & Wood side chair: Thrift store
  • Grecian Letterman pillow: Schoolhouse Electric
  • Swing Lamp in brass: One Forty Three
  • Coming To America poster: Chisholm Larsson Gallery
  • Korbo wire basket: Design Within Reach
  • Spun aluminum planter: POD
  • NYC Pigeon Pendant: Three Potato Four

  • Saarinen side table: Design Within Reach
  • Stash desk: Blu Dot
  • Brass floor lamp: Thrift store
  • Eames Molded Side Chair (DSW): DWR Outlet
  • Taburet-A Walnut Stool: Organic Modernism
  • Kilim pillow: sofART, Etsy
  • Steer horn: The Evolution Store
  • Ceramic white vessel: Ferm Living
  • White bud vase: West Elm
  • Ceramic camp planter: Helen Levi


  • Bambu Square Diner Pet Bowl: Pet Lounge Studios
  • Bulky sugar bowl: Muuto
  • Bulky cookie jar: Muuto
  • Salt well: IKEA
  • Pepper mill: Muuto
  • Ekby Hemnes shelf: IKEA
  • Ribba Frame and Hälleknopp fabric: IKEA
  • Coffee maker: Jura Capresso
  • Black Rasberry mixing bowls: Mosser Glass

  • Brass antelope bookends: eBay
  • Shelving unit: DIY
  • Ribba Frame & Hälleknopp fabric: IKEA
  • Alarm clocks: Muji
  • Toothbrush holder: Muji
  • Black tripod planter: Stvdio Brooklyn by Erica Peterson
  • Brushed Nickel Vanity: Mirror Image
  • Shower curtain: Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Towels: IKEA
  • Wall decals: MUR

  • Nailhead Headboard: West Elm
  • Duvet cover: Ralph Lauren
  • Swiss Army Blanket: Army Surplus
  • Bedside table: DIY
  • Radio: Trivoli
  • Nude portrait: Found on the street
  • Teardrop lamp: Oriental Lamp Co
  • Cowhide rug: The Evolution Store
  • Whitetail Deer Skull: eBay
  • Yellow launderette bag: Sundance
  • Lindsey Adelman DIY chandelier:

  • “Winded Skeleton” by Kevin Russ:
  • Nelson Night Clock: Thrift store
  • Metallic garden stool: Target
  • Ekby Hemnes shelves: IKEA
  • Sheepskin throw: Mood Fabrics
  • Pencil cactus & pot: Ovando
  • Ceramic Purnukka jars: Iittalia
  • Neo crocheted rubber bowl: Gretel Home
  • White ceramic vessels: West Elm
  • Horse Hair Tassels: Half Hitch Goods
  • Volkswagen paperweight: Craigslist

  • (Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

    Thanks for sharing, Evan!

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