Project by: Melissa
Location: Upper East Side — New York, New York
My girlfriend Melissa and I purchased a small studio apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in October 2015. With a reasonable renovation budget, our goal was to take this fixer-upper, maximize the space and create a home for us for the next few years.
Since Melissa loves to cook, and I love to eat, we made the kitchen our main priority. Deciding to tear down the wall that separated the kitchen was a no-brainer. However, figuring out how to add in a dishwasher and full refrigerator, without losing too much storage or living space, was tricky.
During demolition, we played around with a number of different kitchen layouts – all of which required their own sacrifices. Ultimately, we landed on re-purposing the closet across from the kitchen as a home for the refrigerator, and decided to build a pantry at the base of a breakfast bar to compensate for the lost closet space.
A few months after construction began, after some expected and unexpected hiccups with our contractors, the demolition was complete (which included tearing down a wall, removing all of the cabinets and appliances, ripping up the tile and wood floors, updating the electric and plumbing, resurfacing the walls, and completely gutting the bathroom), and nearly all of the new features were put in place (including new 5-inch panel maple wood floors in the main living space, as well as an entirely updated bathroom complete with new sink, tub, toilet, vanity, light fixtures, and tile floors).
We moved into the apartment that February, and anxiously watched as the kitchen was slowly built around us (and as our take-out dinner expenses grew simultaneously). It wasn't until that April that the kitchen finally came together in its entirety, and Melissa's vision for the decor finally came to fruition, right down to the smallest detail.
Our West Elm bed lifts up at one end to reveal hidden storage space, while a pouf that lives under our ceramic coffee table slides out to provide some extra seating. The large wooden dresser and adjacent metal shelving unit provide a home to a diverse array of decorations, including an hour glass and a globe, as well as a handful of distinctive vases and books of all sizes – so long as they're blue. Those items, in conjunction with the bar cart next to the couch, a few carefully selected rugs, and some purposefully placed plants, come together to create the perfect urban-rustic apartment.
All said, we're thrilled with the way it came out, and we're excited to cook and eat together, and host small dinner parties here for years to come.
Surprise, Melissa! And thanks to Mitch for putting this together!
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Re-edited from a post originally published 8.12.16