A Glorified Studio’s Glorious Minimal Makeover Lets the Light In

updated Mar 21, 2019

A Glorified Studio’s Glorious Minimal Makeover Lets the Light In

updated Mar 21, 2019
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Name: Paige Hansen
Location: Union Square — New York, NY
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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“My apartment is more than just a place I live; it has become a source of happiness, comfort, and connectedness to this city, my friends, and myself. Life is crazy, particularly in New York City, and it can be challenging to balance work, relationships, pressure of life and its stages (I just turned 31), so it was important for me to create space for me, a sanctuary of sorts,” shares Paige Hansen.

“Last year, one of my resolutions was to live life more minimally—from my surroundings to my daily habits. How many pairs of jeans do I really need? Moisturizers? When I eat out, am I hungry enough for a full entrée, or am I satisfied with an appetizer-sized portion? I’ve extended this philosophy beyond how I decorated my apartment to include how I spend my time and money, and where I focus my energy. That’s meant keeping my home and closets clutter-free and organized.

I’m inspired by the Danish simpler way of living and I’d say my style is Cali-Scandi. I’m from California and am also Norwegian and Danish so I pulled as much of that into my tiny NYC apartment as possible.

I love my apartment because it is representative of the life I want to create for myself: One filled only with things I cherish and need, and free of superfluous items that cause distraction and discomfort. In a world of insatiable desire, the question I always come back to is, what makes me happy and what do I really need? The outcome is reflected in my apartment and increasingly in my persona. (No, I have not watched Marie Kondo!).

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: California-Scandinavian, a.k.a. “Cali-Scandi” or “Scandifornian.”

Inspiration: I’m inspired by minimalistic design that is modern, functional, and calming. I’m a huge fan of dining out, and dining in; basically I like eating. I’ve tried to re-create what I’d describe as my happiest state—the feeling of eating together in a dimly lit restaurant, filled with candles, music, and people sharing stories. Specifically, I’m inspired by places like abcV in New York, 108 in Copenhagen, and the aesthetic created by Taryn Toomey’s The Class, of which I am a huge fan.

Favorite Element: My favorite part of my apartment is the openness. It’s a glorified studio with a light, sea glass-colored sliding divider that creates just enough of a barrier between my bedroom and living room. I love to entertain, and my kitchen is big enough to be a gathering spot, but if my friends move a few feet away into my living room, I still feel part of the conversation. The biggest compliment a friend can pay is that they love coming over. I usually have yummy snacks or ingredients for an easy pasta on hand, just in case a last-minute opportunity to entertain arises. I always have wine, crackers, nuts, olives to pull out onto my kitchen countertop so a friend or two can perch on my stools while I prep a meal for us to enjoy.

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge is natural light. When I saw the apartment for the first time, I immediately saw the potential (updated bathroom and kitchen) but was concerned about the lack of natural light in the north-facing, low-floor unit. To overcome this, I replaced the blinds, ripped out a built-in bookshelf, and painted the walls a bright, fresh white to make it feel clean, larger, and lighter. I replaced the fixtures, installed dimmers to the track lighting that came with the unit, and added lamps so I could create the right mood, whether I’m entertaining, or hanging out by myself reading, cooking, working.

Proudest DIY: I’m proudest of the DIY things you don’t see on the surface—how I’ve organized my kitchen, my closet space, my bar area, and the essentials I need for living, like paper towels, tools, etc. basically all the things you don’t want to have to store in your precious small space, but you do. I’m proudest of how I have extended the minimalist philosophy I strive for behind closed doors, inside drawers, and under my bed.

The second one would be replacing all the handles and pulls on my drawers and closets. It’s like jewelry for your apartment!

Biggest Indulgence: Definitely a beautiful custom framing treatment for two photographs my stepdad took and gave me for my 30th birthday. I’m from California and love having the prints of San Francisco taken from Marin County as the focal point of my apartment. The framing and mounting were not cheap, but completely worth it as they made the photos even more dramatic and elevated the look of my space.

Best Advice: Prioritize your changes based on your realistic budget and what will have the greatest impact on your happiness and ability to live functionally. I considered updating my bathroom tile because I frankly don’t love it, but I was shocked when I got quotes—not in my budget! Instead, I invested in high-end clean, white towels, installed dimmers to my bathroom lights, and applied a fresh, warm coat of paint to change the look just enough to make me enjoy the space more. One day, I’ll get to the bathroom tile.

Get The Look:

Kitchen, Living, Dining (all over): Benjamin Moore, Simply White, Pearl Finish
Bedroom Statement Wall: Benjamin Moore, Raleigh Peach, Eggshell Finish
Bathroom: Benjamin Moore, Dulce De Leche, Aura Waterborne Interior Paint

Mounted Coat Rack – The Home Depot
Pulls – CB2 Hex Brushed Brass handles and pulls. Replacing these throughout my apartment really changed the game; it’s a low-cost way to enhance your style and give any room a modern look. Someone said to me it’s the “jewelry” of your apartment—truth!
Basket – Anthropologie, I use this to store shoes, umbrellas, etc.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

Couch – This was my first purchase nearly 10 years ago when I graduated college. I got it for $600 and it’s been a great staple. I get it professionally cleaned once a year to maintain its fresh, off-white color.
Accent Chair – Anthropologie Caddell Chair in Velvet Marine
Pillows – Anthropologie Faux Fur pillow (no longer available) and Pottery Barn
Glass Side Table – Blush & Brass, Beckham End Table
Side Table – Amazon
Lamp – Urban Outfitters Gumball Floor Lamp in gold
Lamp – Pottery Barn, similar here
Bar storage – CB2 Swig White Mini Bar
Coffee Table – West Elm Terrace Coffee Table
Basket – ABC Carpet & Home
Plants – I buy most of my plants at the Union Square Greenmarket but am also a fan of The Home Depot. Planters are from West Elm.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

Dining Table – CB2 Odyssey White Dining Table
Dining Chairs – Houzz Y Wood Dining Chair, natural beech with natural seat
Round Mirror – World Market Sana Brass Mirror
Console – West Elm Malone Campaign 6-Drawer Dresser, White Lacquer
Wall Mirror above Console – Ethan Allen Rosette wall mirror
Painting – My mom painted this for me, and I love it! I sent her a Pinterest board for inspiration, and she brought it to life, creating a simple, modern, oil-based painting that highlight the tones of pink scattered throughout my apartment.

Kitchen Design and Cabinets – Poggenpohl (this was a selling point of the apartment, along with the Miele dishwasher!)
Drying Rack – This is one of my favorite features in my apartment! A cabinet that hides a functional drying rack, so dishes are never left on the countertop.
Counter Stools – Overstock.com, Ellery Mid-Century Modern Swivel Wood Stool
Compost Bin – Epica Stainless Steel
Kettle – Le Creuset Demi Tea Kettle, White
Artwork – This is the beginning of a lifelong dream of mine to have a “Menu Wall”: menus from my favorite NYC restaurant, daUmberto, abcV produce explainer, and my favorite restaurant of all time, Chez Panisse. I also have a poster from Chez Panisse across from my kitchen, tying together my menu motif.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

Headboard — Ballard Designs, mine is old and no longer available, but this one is similar
Leaning Bookshelf – Old from The Container Store, but you can find these everywhere!
Sconce – Anthropologie Fela Tasseled Sconce
Bedding – West Elm Ripple Texture Duvet and Shams
Bed Skirt – Bloomingdales
Under Bed Storage – Amazon
Bedside Table – West Elm Modernist Wood + Lacquer Nightstand, Winter Wood
Diffuser – goop stone diffuser
Candle – le labo santal 26
Pillow – Pottery Barn Faye Textured Linen Pillow

Soap Dispenser – Target
Towel Rack – Lowe’s
Trash Bin – SimpleHuman
Towels – Boll & Branch; investing in high-quality, clean white towels has been a game changer for me and really brightened up my bathroom

Thanks, Paige!

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