Before & After: A Dated 600-Square-Foot NYC Apartment Gets a Beautiful, Low-Cost Upgrade

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Credit: Ashley Lynn

Name: Ashley Lynn
Location: New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Credit: Ashley Lynn

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: This is a railroad, one-bedroom in one of those old Upper East Side walk-up buildings. I was working in New York a lot and needed a place to stay there but didn’t want to spend a lot. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make most of the home’s layout—these railroad apartments can be difficult! Now that I’ve “cracked the nut” I want to share with others who have similar homes. I’m no longer working in NYC and need to give up the home, but I wanted to share the love before I leave so that others can benefit from these ideas.

kitchen with lots of low cost upgrades - the tile are stickers!

Although it is a rental, I used lots of low-cost upgrades, covering the ugly tile with laminate stickers, the ugly countertops with marble-look contact paper, etc. I love the space so much now and I’ll be sad to leave it!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, urban, glam, artsy, bohemian

middle room - dining for 6

What is your favorite room and why? The living room! I turned the “bedroom” into the living room and it is full of light and has gorgeous views of the Bohemian National Hall.

living room (this used to be the bedroom)

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I love my Murphy bed from Expand furniture—using a Murphy bed really allowed me to make the most of this tiny apartment.

converts to a bedroom with the murphy bed down

Any advice for creating a home you love? Think outside the box! I always look at the light in a home first and make sure I maximize light in the living area. Then I get one of those cheap “over the door” mirrors and spend a few days trying it in all sorts of places to see where a mirror (or a few!) will really add to the light and ambiance of the home.

dining nook in kitchen

And don’t feel silly moving your furniture around! I can never tell from a piece of paper how furniture will “feel”—so when I move into a new place I get those furniture sliders and try the sofa against every wall, actually sitting in it, checking out the view and how it feels. Same with the bed.

making the most of a tiny bath

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.