This Family of Five Lives Large In a One-Bedroom New York City Rental Apartment — Complete With Climbing Wall
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Name: Jenny Davis, Cory, and our three kids (6-year old son, Asher, and 2.5-year old twins, Aliya and Aleph). With pet cat, Leo and bearded dragon, Rexy
Location: Upper East Side — New York City, New York
Size: 650 square feet
Type of Home: One-bedroom apartment
Years lived in: 15 years, renting
This is not the first time Apartment Therapy has toured the home of writer and mom Jenny Davis. She and her husband, Cory, have rented this 650-square-foot Upper East Side apartment for 15 years, an impressive feat. But even more incredibly, this one-bedroom home has evolved each time the couple has grown their family, which now includes their 5-year-old son and their 2-year-old twins (as well as a cat and a bearded dragon!).
“I grew up in a basement apartment, so what wowed me in this apartment from the first time we saw it more than 15 years ago… and every day since… has been the natural sunlight it gets,” begins Jenny. “I also highly value that it’s in a pre-war building with really solid construction and some quirky details. Our lobby used to be all marble, there’s an old mail chute next to us that can drop letters down to the lobby (no longer in use — but it still works), and our building is only six stories high with many tenants and staff who’ve been here longer than we have.”
When Jenny and Cory were expecting their first child, Jenny says she felt the pressure to move into a larger space, but wrote in their first feature on AT that “two people who raised kids in one-bedrooms in our building said that the pressure is not real.”
So rather than upsize, the couple instead made their home work for the growing family by fitting a nursery into a small space (an office alcove) by squeezing in a crib and adding foldable accordion doors. The living room and dining area were adjusted to allow for a huge play area. But the home’s evolution wasn’t complete.
A few years after welcoming their first child, Jenny and Cory welcomed twins, a boy and a girl. Their one-bedroom home now had to sleep five people. When Apartment Therapy toured their home again, the alcove was still a kid’s room, but Jenny got even more creative with the apartment’s other spaces. A closet became a small office, the entryway became a LEGO station, and the play space spread into the actual kitchen with a play kitchen.
The apartment’s current iteration is perhaps the best (so far, anyway). The flexible alcove — a home office-turned-son’s room-turned-twins’-room — isn’t a sleep space for anyone anymore, and instead has been transformed into a “massive movement zone with a rock wall, monkey bars, and a net loft leading to a ledge.”
The apartment’s single bedroom has been turned into an incredible kid’s room for all three kiddos, with a combo of bunk and Montessori beds, a cute reading corner, a long art table, and lots of smart storage ideas. Jenny and Cory sleep on a secondhand Murphy bed they installed in the home’s foyer. A closet is still a home office. And there’s now a cat and bearded dragon thrown into the home’s mix of residents, too.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Whimsical with elements from nature.
Inspiration: I’ve pulled a lot of inspiration from preschool classrooms, especially ones rooted in the Waldorf style of education. Classrooms are set up with zones for different types of play and usually have an open floor, great organization and rotation systems, and inviting reading nooks.
But I get inspiration from anywhere that makes me feel cozy and warm and at home. I once found inspiration in an airport in Norway that felt like a storybook. It had Christmas lights and beautiful textured artwork all around, and a lot of wood. I wanted to live in that airport!
If I like a space, I’ll analyze everything about it: the lighting, the textures, the layout and placement of things, and that gives me ideas about how to make things more beautiful and functional in my own home. Design tricks are everywhere and when you become conscious of them, it can really fuel creativity at home.
Favorite Element: At this point, every room has an item in it from a memory we want to honor, be it a person or an experience, and they create an energy and an authenticity that grounds our home and makes it truly beautiful to us.
Thanks Jenny and Cory!
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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