A 500-Square-Foot NYC Rental’s Historic Built-Ins Are Incredible

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white living room with lots of historic wood details around trim, wainscoting, ceiling beams. Green sofa and armchair
Credit: Mallory Blanco

Mallory Blanco pays $3100 a month for this apartment she’s been renting since December 2021: The building is from 1901, and this is the only apartment to maintain some of the historic built-ins like a “desk” and a bookshelf that offers lots of storage space (due to the fact that it has a hidden closet that has been sealed for years).

Credit: Mallory Blanco

I have a private patio, which I feel super lucky to have in Manhattan; it is set back from the street to remain nice and quiet.

Credit: Mallory Blanco

I love a warm library-like aesthetic. I love pre-war buildings, and this living room really makes a statement. I had to pick furnishings that not only lived up to the drama, but also didn’t darken the space anymore. The green theme in the living room started by accident; I’ve loved the Article Grass Green Sven couch for years. I happened to have a green desk chair, and I slowly added the armchair after racking my brain over a color that would work that wasn’t just white.

Credit: Mallory Blanco

By contrast, I wanted to keep my bedroom very light-feeling and focused on nature. It’s where most of my plants manage to survive, as it’s the room with the best light and it’s such a nice contrast from the living room.

Credit: Mallory Blanco

For my bathroom I went with a lot of Art Deco rental upgrades based off of some detail on my bathtub faucet.

I love eclectic items of new/old that tell a story of the things I love: art, music, history, travel, and books.

Credit: Mallory Blanco

Describe your home’s style in five words or fewer: Historic, warm, comfy, library vibes.

What is your favorite room and why? I think the living room is tied with the patio. The patio offers some space from the rest of the apartment and is especially great to work on. It’s a nice way to enjoy good weather without having to pack a bag for the park. Plus I’ve had some success with plants because of it.

Credit: Mallory Blanco

The living room offers a warmth that is incredibly comforting; it feels fancy without trying so hard and I love thinking about the other people who lived in this place over the last 120 years.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I’ve had a few good stoop finds, the coffee table, the end table, and recently I found a book from the 1897 Kings Handbook of New York City. It’s over 1000 pages and I had to re-glue the spine, but it looks great on a table.

Credit: Mallory Blanco

I also recently bought a round painted mirror on a recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, that has a love note on the back, also dated 1897.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Just pick things that you love looking at every day, and don’t feel like you have to conform to any one trend. There are so many times I walk though my house and see 10 different things that make me feel happy just on the way to the door. It makes coming home that much sweeter.

Thanks, Mallory!

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