A Super Small (Yet Super Organized) Manhattan Apartment Built for Two

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Super Small (Yet Super Organized) Manhattan Apartment Built for Two

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Thomas Dobrowolski and Ben Ezrick
Location: West Village, New York
Size: 400 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned

When you only have 400 square feet to work with, every inch of your home has to be considered during a remodel. Not just for aesthetics, but for also for function. Which is precisely what Thomas and Ben did with their West Village home when they set about renovating the small space: There are sleek, smart, built-in storage solutions in every room of the apartment.

There’s the hidden television (and all the electrical wires). There’s a well-designed kitchen that can fit full-size appliances. There’s compact space for toiletries in the tiny bathroom. And there’s even an adorable charging nook in the bedroom.

While the smart storage certainly deserves attention, the aesthetics of the home they’ve built is quite lovely, too. Inspired by cool boutique hotels and the city itself, they were able to combine their love of modern interiors, and honor the building’s pre-war history. This is a couple who were willing to go the extra mile to make sure their home looks and works perfectly for them — they even tracked down a hotel’s architect to get wood flooring advice!

The couple’s architect was Brett Masterson of Hecho Inc. and the general contractor was Gordan Rafajac of New York Landmark Construction. Custom millwork was completed by Patrick Eck of Inform Studio Inc.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We’re both fans of modern design and like clean lines and fresh takes on classics. In our apartment we wanted to honor the authenticity of the property, while updating the aesthetic. For example we exposed the original wood beams of the building. We then added sheetrock between the beams with speakers and LED lights.

Inspiration: We took inspiration from cool boutique hotels that we’ve visited around the world. We also roamed Manhattan every weekend for months searching for materials and inspiration.

Favorite Element: The inset TV on the living room wall. The wall separates the living room from the bedroom and there is a double wide hanging barn door on a track to the entrance of the bedroom. The TV sits perfectly within the wall and electrical components are hidden in a closet. When in use, it’s a sleek home theater experience and covered by shaker-style dark gray door when not in use.

Biggest Challenge: Redesigning the layout to create distinct living spaces: an open concept living/dining area and a bedroom. This required us to move the plumbing to a new space in the living room. We had to give a lot of thought to placing the new kitchen in the best possible location so it didn’t dominate the living room yet was able to handle full-size appliances including our 24-inch paneled Liebherr fridge. We put a closet behind the new wall separating the bedroom and living room, which is accessible from both rooms, with one side serving as a coat closet and the other, in the bedroom, for clothing.

What Friends Say: They can’t believe how different the place looks. Friends joined us for a New Year’s Eve celebration before we renovated so they saw the before-and-after; they can’t believe we were able to recover two feet of ceiling space and now have an 11′ ceiling with beams. Everyone is obsessed with the sliding barn door and wants one in their place.

Biggest Embarrassment: Not laying out the kitchen properly at first try. In the design phase, we wanted to maximize our limited counter space, so we decided to place the sink next to the stove to allow for one larger piece of countertop. When the plumbing was roughed in, we immediately realized the mistake. We would have no counter next to the stove. We fixed the issue by moving the sink to the center with counter space on each side.

Proudest DIY: The headboard behind the bed. Due to limited space and additional cost of a headboard, we decided to economize and do it ourselves. It took a few trips to the lumber yard, lots of measuring, gluing, hammering, and painting but it looks exactly how we imagined.

Biggest Indulgence: Custom cabinets throughout the apartment. In the kitchen, we have two extra cabinets above the integrated refrigerator; above the entryway we installed two cabinets; in the bedroom, we installed floor-to- ceiling cabinets. We also put in a custom in-wall medicine cabinet in the bathroom behind the sink. That allowed us to install an extra tall and wide flat mirror, which opens the bathroom space.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to ask the experts for advice. We went to this amazing hotel in Providence, Rhode Island and immediately wanted to incorporate that design into our apartment. After some phone calls, we reached the hotel architect and he explained how they finished their wood floors. They used an inexpensive red oak in a rustic grade. Even though rustic grade is generally considered less desirable, it gave us exactly what we were looking for. The knots in the wood give the floor an old-world appearance, which honored the integrity of the pre-war building. Based on the recommendation of this architect, we had the floors stained with two very light coats of a dark brown stain that made all the individual panels blend together cohesively.

Dream Sources: ABC Home, Ian Schrager, Boutique hotels


Entry, pocket, barn door, and headboard are in Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal

Sunset Park Sofa — A&G Merch
“The Rat Pack” commissioned painting of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra — by Tim Shepard
The convertible coffee table/dining table — Ligne Roset Brunch occasional table

Induction cooktop — True Induction
Sharp convection microwave oven — AJ Madison
Liebherr refrigerator — AJ Madison
Bosch under cabinet hood — AJ Madison
Bosch integrated dishwasher — AJ Madison
Faucet — Lefroy Brooks
Fireclay undermount sink — Franke

Queen size mattress — Casper

Fixtures — Lefroy Brooks
Vanity — Kohler
Custom in-wall medicine cabinet

Thanks, Ben and Tom!

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