Krista & Will's Compact Contemporary

Krista & Will's Compact Contemporary

Name: Krista Ninivaggi and Will Prince
Location: East Village — New York, New York
Size: 400 square feet
Years lived in: 8 — owned

Married architects Krista Ninivaggi and Will Prince were gracious enough to recently invite us into their inviting, contemporary East Village residence - and while the extravagant brunch Will prepared for us was positively delectable, we also couldn't help salivating over their ingenious storage solutions and top-notch eye for design.

When Will Prince moved into this East Village studio eight years ago he knew he had quite the fixer upper on his hands. A rusted-out sink, teensy living room, and Crayola brand primary wall paint made the space feel like a Kindergarten nightmare –however, it gave this young architect plenty to work with. When girlfriend Krista Niniviaggi, a fellow architect and designer moved in a year later - she too was ready to transform their East Village walk-up into a designer's haven.
Over the next few years, the couple married and formed design and architecture firm, PARK. The aesthetically-minded duo knew they wanted to renovate the apartment into a modern, functional space that could showcase their knack for innovative design. In a series of events straight out of The Money Pit, the pair went through several contractors, were forced to move in with Krista's parents for a year (!), and Krista even became an on-the-fly demolition expert.
Before the makeover, the kitchen had absolutely no counter space and was uncomfortably close to the bathroom (we've included some "before" pics in the slideshow). "You could sit on the toilet and stir a pot on the stove," Krista noted. While the bedroom area of the studio was a decent size, it forced the living room to be awkwardly small – and there was still the problem of having absolutely nowhere for the couple to store anything. Krista and Will resolved this issue and maximized their space by separating the bedroom with sliding Polycarbonate panels and creating a platform sleeping area that stores not only the guest bed, but drawers deep enough to accommodate their ski's.  

Although there were a few speed bumps, Krista and Will ultimately ended up with exactly what they imagined – and cleverly used every nook and cranny to create numerous I-can't-believe-they-thought-of-that storage solutions. By comparing the "before" and "after" pictures of this transformation, it's certainly clear that this gifted duo is truly a design match made in heaven.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern clean lines with antique and traditional touches.

Inspiration: We simply love good design, no matter what it is or where it comes from.

Favorite Element: Definitely the kitchen because it's super functional and we have tons of storage. We never feel crowded or cramped in there - which is rare for a studio.

Biggest Challenge: We would have to say there have been three main challenges since the renovations began:

1. The apartment is so long and the bathroom felt like a cave, so we knew we wanted to put a window in. When we started construction however, we realized that because the building is so old (most likely built in the 1870's) the lintel was made out of old wood and couldn't support the bricks. Even though the contractor told us it would be super expensive, we knew we needed light at that end of the apartment.

2. During construction we had to live with my (Krista's) parents in New Jersey. We initially thought the renovation would take 4 months and it ended up taking 14 – that was definitely a challenge!

3. Finding a decent and trustworthy contractor was one of our most surprising challenges- we had to go through way more that we ever thought we'd have to.

What Friends Say: Our favorite quote is from our friends Andrew Andrew: "You should charge admission to use your bathroom."

Biggest Embarrassment: Will: Well, after all the work we've put into it we're happy not to have any more embarrassing elements. Thinking about how the apartment was before with the rusted out sink is pretty embarrassing.

Proudest DIY: Krista: The first contractor for our bathroom did such a terrible job and we needed to quickly hire a second contractor to finish – but he had a tiny window in his schedule and he said he couldn't demo the space himself. Will was traveling so I called my sister and she and I demo'd the bathroom ourselves when I got done with work. That's certainly my proudest DIY.

Biggest Indulgence: Our sink, toilet and the medicine cabinet- we really splurged on Duravit bathroom fixtures. //

Best Advice: When you know you have a lot to change in the space, it's best to hire a professional so you can end up (hopefully!) with exactly what you envision for your home.

Dream Sources: DWR, IKEA, Blue Dot, Patricia Urquiola, Amy Helfand Rugs, Marcel Wanders

Resources of Note:


    • Paint Color: Stormy Monday by Benjamin Moore
    • Desk in Fireplace: Room and Board
    • Couch: Marcel Wanders for Moooi
    • Toile Chair: Found on the street and reupholstered
    • Side Table: Patricia Urquiola
    • Storage Unit: IKEA
    • Piggy Bank: Belonged to Krista's mom
    • Rug: Chilewich
    • Fold out stools/tables: Mobila collection by Klapp Mobil
    • Chandelier: George Nelson
    • Photos of Joey Ramone and David Johansen of the New York Dolls: Helene Ninivaggi
    • Photos of the Peter Eisenman Buildings: Will Prince
    • Cat Painting: Painted by Krista's Step-Great Grandmother


    • Cabinets: IKEA
    • Countertop: CaesarStone
    • Penny Tile: Nemo Tile
    • All Kitchen Appliances: Gringer & Sons in the East Village
    • Owl Clock: George Nelson – Omar the Owl Clock by Vitra


    • Sidetable Lamps: Phillipe Starck
    • Clear frames next to the TV: Muji
    • Chair: Fiberglass and vinyl Eames chair
    • Bed: DWR
    • Robot: Krista's toy since childhood
    • Sliding Doors: Panel light/ polycarbonate composite panels on a Hafele tracking system
    • Ceiling Light: IKEA
    • Bedside Table: IKEA
    • White Credenza: IKEA


    • Penny Tile: Nemo Tile
    • Sink, Toilet, & Medicine Cabinet: Duravit
    • Box on Window Sill: Jonathan Adler
    • Tray: John Derian for Target
    • Under-the-Sink Cabinet: IKEA
    • Embroidered Artwork on Wall: A gift for Krista from a friend, based on a poem Krista wrote in college

Thanks, Krista and Will!

Images: Mat Sanders

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