A Teeny and Chic NYC Studio Apartment Has an Utterly Amazing DIY Backyard Transformation

published Jun 14, 2021

A Teeny and Chic NYC Studio Apartment Has an Utterly Amazing DIY Backyard Transformation

published Jun 14, 2021
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Name: Carley Gallagher. And a pair of blue jays who take a rotating residency in the yard.
Location: Greenwich Village, NYC
Size: Around 400 square feet
Type of Home: A ground floor studio apartment
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

“I arrived in New York from Canada with a single suitcase about eight years ago,” begins social strategist Carley Gallagher. “The first handful of years New York felt like, as it does for most of us who land here, a constant hustle, and never homey. I was literally living out of this single suitcase until one day a wise friend of mine once said, ‘if you want to make New York your home you have to at least buy a knife set!’ It was of course metaphorical, but his point was taken. So I bought the knife set. Along with proper pots and pans. Then a bed, then a couch. And when I moved into this place, New York finally felt like home. A humble, calm, quiet, nurturing place in the Village to unwind from all the craziness of the day-to-day life in New York City.” 

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Credit: Jason Rampe

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Inspiration: One of my favorite oasis in the city is Saturdays’ backyard. The communal hangout spot with big leafy greens is a hidden gem! And I wanted to make my yard a welcoming spot where I could gather my favorite people and eat lots of delicious food.

Favorite Element: My Yves Klein-inspired painting. When I moved in, a handful of my best friends came over for wine and helped me create this piece for my housewarming. We smeared ourselves in the iconic blue paint and got to work! A daring art project, just after the walls were painted a crisp white. It’s the most meaningful piece because it’s a representation of the strong women in my life whom I adore and admire. One of them was pregnant with their first child at the time, so it’s extra special. 

Credit: Jason Rampe

Proudest DIY: Hands down that backyard! I built it myself. When I moved in, there was a picnic table and a chain-link fence. I headed to Lowe’s to get something to cover the fence and maybe a few crowd-pleasing plants. I then met a lovely employee who convinced me I could build a full-fledged fence. We spent 45 minutes sketching out the designs on the floor of aisle 9. Before I knew it, I was on my way back home in a truck with $600 worth of raw lumber and a power drill (my first power tool). I hired the best Task Rabbiter ever who helped me build that fence in six hours. We were both quite pleased with ourselves and celebrated this very spontaneous DIY project with Joe’s Pizza and a six-pack. If anyone wants a referral, I got you!

Credit: Jason Rampe

Biggest Indulgence: My nearly five-foot tall vintage poster of a Yayoi Kusama exhibit in Tokyo is a nod to one of my most favorite trips to Naoshima Island in Japan. I love the combination of the beautiful kanji typography, bold colors, and of course the pumpkin — which IRL sits on the beach on the island. A colorful reminder of my fond memories from Japan, and the wanderlust that exists in all New Yorkers. 

Credit: Jason Rampe

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? This is as close to indoor/outdoor living you can get in New York City. Since my space is small, I use the outdoor space for entertaining. Paella parties, BBQs, disco parties with a disco ball hanging from the trees, outdoor movie nights with the projector, a makeshift gym during quarantine — we’ve made some amazing memories in the yard over the years. 

Credit: Jason Rampe

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why?  Adrien Miller Bowl. I was inspired, and actually took up pottery during quarantine at a local pottery house. There are a few of my own ceramics peppered around the apartment. Bodum French press that was gifted to me — there’s nothing better than sitting out in the back and having a nice strong coffee on the weekend. And the West Elm Andes couch. It’s nothing exciting, but it’s a solid micro-sized couch, which really has been an anchor piece for the room.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: My most meaningful pieces are the ones I picked up over time — a kanji menu from my travels in Izu Japan, Vivianne Sassen prints from a Frank Ocean popup below my old apartment in Nolita, a vintage mirror from my grandma, a disco ball from a groovy night we had in the yard. While I’m a big fan of doing what you need to do to settle into a new apartment ASAP, I wanted to slowly add pieces with meaning. 

Credit: Jason Rampe

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? I’m very much a fan of high/low/DIY combo. Some pieces are IKEA, some are a longer term investment, some are thrifted, some are made.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Resources

  • West Elm — Andes Sofa
  • West Elm — Mid-Century Bed Frame Queen – Acorn
  • West Elm — Penelope Nightstand, 3-Dresser, Acorn/Marble
  • Ikea — Kallax Shelf
  • Ikea — Hovet Mirror
  • Ikea — MACKAPÄR

Thanks Carley!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.