This Renter’s Trick for Hiding the Tub in a 240-Square-Foot Studio Works Like Magic

published Mar 11, 2024

This Renter’s Trick for Hiding the Tub in a 240-Square-Foot Studio Works Like Magic

published Mar 11, 2024
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Austin Larkin‘s studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen is in a rent-stabilized tenement building, only 240 square feet big, and has a “pretty unique space with an atypical (and very New York-specific) layout. My bathtub is directly in the middle of the space, while the toilet is in its own closet-sized room at the back of the unit,” Austin describes.

Credit: Erin Derby
"I built and painted a sort of false wall to hide my shower and closet, which take up an entire half of my living space," Austin writes. "When I moved in, there was an enormous, ugly gray curtain that pulled across that area of the apartment. I tried lighting it with colorful string lights to make it work with the rest of the space, but as I began incorporating more and more colorful pieces to my living space, it just became an eyesore."

“When I first moved in, I thought a lot about how I could design my space to distract from how small and bizarre it is, but in the three years since, I’ve really embraced its quirks by filling it with color, patterns, storage solutions, DIYs, and unique decor and furniture pieces that reflect the uniqueness of the apartment itself. It has since become a sort of eclectic, vibrant, ’70s-inspired sanctuary,” he continues.

Credit: Erin Derby
"The 'rules' of design are actually useless. Even if it doesn’t 'go,' if it brings you joy and makes you feel like you’re home, then it absolutely works. It’s really that simple. Fill your home with things that you think are dope, break the rules, and break them boldly," Austin writes.

“This is the first apartment I’ve lived in on my own, so it was really my first foray into figuring out my own specific design style. I’ve always liked mid-century furniture pieces, so that was sort of my jumping-off point, and from there I kind of let my creativity run wild,” Austin writes.

Credit: Erin Derby
"I thought about replacing the curtain with a color that looked better with my color scheme, but was afraid it would still look like dead space, so I had custom blinds made to cover both the shower and the closet and painted them to work with the rest of the room, using an acrylic medium in the paint to make sure it wouldn’t crack when they rolled up and down," Austin continues explaining about his brilliant tub and closet-hiding idea. "At night, in the lamp light, you can’t even tell there’s anything hanging there. It just looks like a painted wall."

“I moved into this apartment in 2021, while COVID was still a present aspect of life in NYC, so for quite a while, decorating this place was my primary creative outlet. I’m also a bit of a New York history buff, so I wanted furniture pieces and art around my apartment that paid homage to the many decades this building has been standing in this city,” Austin admits. “My building was likely built in the 1880s or 1890s, and you can viscerally feel the history and all of the people who have called this apartment home … I wanted to celebrate that in my design.”

Shop This Home

Credit: Erin Derby

PAINT & COLORS

  • Everything — Benjamin Moore “Essex Green”
Credit: Erin Derby

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa — All Modern
  • Chair — All Modern (Sold Out)
  • Ottoman — Levity
  • Shag Rug — Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Steamer Trunk — Sidewalk Find
  • Round Mirror — Target
  • Full Length Mirror — Target
  • Acrylic Tray — Etsy
  • Butt Stuff Ashtray — Edie Parker
  • Golden State Art Gallery Frames — Amazon
  • Record Table — Sidewalk Find
  • Disco Balls — West Elm (Sold Out)
  • Floor Lamp — Wayfair (Discontinued)
  • Cleo Table Lamp — West Elm
Credit: Erin Derby

DINING ROOM & KITCHEN

  • Wren Bistro Table — West Elm (Discontinued)
  • Lilian Steel Chairs — Wayfair
  • Elfa Storage Solutions — Container Store
  • Planters — Amazon (Sold Out)
  • Peel and Stick Wallpaper — Spoonflower
  • Call Me By Your Name Storyboard Art Print — Society 6
Credit: Erin Derby

BEDROOM

  • Duvet Cover — West Elm
  • Faux Fur Plush Throw — West Elm
  • Checkered Blanket — West Elm (Discontinued)
  • Percale Sheets — Pact
  • Grecian Bust Pot — Anthroplogie
  • Lamp — IKEA (Discontinued)
  • Under-Bed Storage Trunks — Antiquing / Stooping
  • Windmill — My Mom’s Attic (Antique)

Thanks, Austin!

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