A Small One-Bedroom Apartment’s Clever Reno Fits This Family of 3 Perfectly

published Sep 5, 2023

A Small One-Bedroom Apartment’s Clever Reno Fits This Family of 3 Perfectly

published Sep 5, 2023
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Beach and Michael Silver began the search for their first apartment to purchase in 2019. “We badly wanted out of an uncomfortable rental situation, but we kept getting outbid in a super hot market, and then COVID shut down apartment showings completely,” Michael begins. “When showings resumed in June 2020, we found the apartment on StreetEasy and saw it immediately (and in a torrential rainstorm). It was yet another bidding war, but we made an aggressive offer and finally came out on top.”

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Credit: Erin Derby

Michael explains that this apartment had plenty of great elements to it. “The location was ideal, on a beautiful landmarked block near many transit options. It had charm and potential to spare, with big windows, lots of light, private outdoor space, and super-high ceilings in a classic Park Slope brownstone,” Michael explains. 

Credit: Erin Derby

But the couple would have to do some renovating to make it perfect for their growing family, which now includes 2-year-old Cece. “It also had some issues — like no second bedroom and an outdated, run-down kitchen and bathroom — but it was on the lower end of our budget so we had some money left to work with, and we’ve never been afraid of a project.”

Credit: Erin Derby

Michael explains that the couple first planned on $50k for the renovation, but had to increase the budget when they found out Beach was pregnant — and that they would “have to accommodate a whole extra person. In the end we spent around $100,000 (although a lot of that came from deciding to do more and more stuff as the renovation progressed),” Michael explains. “The pregnancy also dictated our timeline. We closed on our apartment in late September 2020 and wanted to get the big stuff done before the baby came in April, which we almost succeeded at.”

Credit: Erin Derby
Stairs and cabinetry underneath the stairs by Teoria Interiors in NYC.

The couple’s most impressive accomplishment with the renovation was carving out a nursery in what was initially only a one-bedroom apartment. “Floor space was limited, but we have 12- to 13-foot ceilings, so we looked upwards and turned a mostly unfinished storage loft in the bedroom into a nursery,” Michael begins. “This presented two challenges. First, we needed to build a staircase to the loft, but that crowded out the floorspace for our dressers. Rather than trying to squeeze in a tiny dresser or sticking our existing dressers in a closet and burning much-needed storage space, we had drawers and cubbies built into the staircase, masked with shaker paneling that feels appropriate to the apartment and matches our other millwork.” 

Credit: Erin Derby

“Second, we needed the nursery to be dark and quiet so our baby could sleep, while also not feeling like a tiny windowless dungeon,” Michael continues. “After a LOT of brainstorming we thought up a wall of turn-able wooden slats that could be closed to block light and sound, or opened to let in air and natural light, while also serving as a barrier to prevent our baby from tumbling to her death. We hired another woodworker friend to build the frame and slats, and helped him install it. Later, we added a system of magnetic stops so the slats would stay either fully open or fully closed rather than spinning freely, which was a problem.”

Credit: Erin Derby

The nursery wasn’t the only big addition to the home: The family’s kitchen island also makes the most of a small home. “We needed an island for a workspace, but we also needed a dining table for entertaining. Given the space constraints, there was no layout that incorporated both without feeling cramped and losing function,” Michael explains. 

Credit: Erin Derby

“So rather than choose one or the other, we combined them and designed an overlong 11-foot island (rounded into an oblong to improve traffic flow around the corners) that functions as a dining table at the far end with space for 4 to 6 counter stools, plus extra storage built into the base. We hired a woodworker friend to make a beautiful Sapele countertop, and it’s become the visual and functional heart of our open kitchen/dining room. It’s the first thing that people notice when they walk in — the place where we work, cook, and eat, where our daughter paints and keeps her toys and books.”


  • Our architect was Anya Gribanova @agriba
  • Our contractor was Bahar Roudiani at Teoria Interiors in NYC @teoria_ny
  • Our island countertop was made by Dan Scrima at Whoa Shop Woodworking in Hatboro, PA @whoashopwoodworking
  • Our slat wall was made by Bryan Faubus in Beacon, NY
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Kitchen cabinets — Benjamin Moore “Danube Blue”
  • Bedroom walls — Benjamin Moore “Camouflage”
  • Living room / kitchen walls — Benjamin Moore “Stonington Gray”
Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Winslow sofa — Interior Define
  • Vintage credenza — Drexel
  • Muuto pull floor lamp — Knoll
  • Original painting — Philippe Croq
  • Original photographs of New Hope, PA — Mike Silver (me)
  • Brushed brass 8×10 picture frames — Crate & Barrel
  • Daybench jumbo in blush leather — BluDot
  • Pro-Ject debut turntable — Accessories 4 Less
  • Elsie chandelier — Sazerac Stitches
  • Round nesting side tables — West Elm
  • Vintage Danish-style chair frame — Yesterday’s News Antiques in Brooklyn, with custom cushions from Etsy
  • 2-lite floor lamp — Houzz
  • Rolling library ladder kit — Rockler
  • Bookshelf speakers — Q Acoustics, model 3020i
  • Wyeth trail blanket in beige — Pendleton
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Teoria Interiors in NYC designed and custom made the blue kitchen cabinets
  • Helix shelves, 70” — CB2
  • Carbonator — Aarke
  • Collection cabinet hardware — Restoration Hardware Atelier
  • Chimie chandelier — Sazerac Stitches
  • Island countertop — Whoa Shop Woodworking in Hatboro, PA (IG handle @whoashopwoodworking
  • Platform counter stools — Industry West (discontinued)
  • Crue pull-down one-hole faucet in brushed modern brass — Kohler
  • Slate appliances — GE
  • Terracotta stacked planter (large) — Franca
  • Print of “Northern Point” — Andrew Wyeth, family heirloom
Credit: Erin Derby


Credit: Erin Derby


Thanks, Michael, Beach, and Cece!

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