This Couple Made the Cutest Home in Just 380 Square Feet

published Nov 29, 2018

This Couple Made the Cutest Home in Just 380 Square Feet

published Nov 29, 2018
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Andrea and Brian Cotlove
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 380 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, renting

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Andrea and her husband, Brian, live very cleanly and simply in this third floor apartment in Brooklyn. Though their home is small–think 380-square-feet small–not only do they live and function successfully in this space, they recently added a new little one to their family! Their home is FULL of great small-space ideas, and much of the ideas are affordable and DIY. Though the home works for their small family right now, the couple admits, “Once [the baby is] mobile, we’re going to have to rethink!”

The best kept secret is their rooftop patio and garden (which we actually toured, as well: See How Gardening Newbies and Their Neighbors Transformed a Brooklyn Rooftop into an Outdoor Oasis.) Having this space on the roof to escape to makes their home feel a bit bigger. They grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables and have dinner parties with friends. They also have an amazing view of the city. Their whole setup is is proof you don’t need a ton of square feet to have a beautiful, comfortable home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Nostalgic and whimsical.

Inspiration: My grandma/antique shops/friends’ apartments.

Favorite Element: The tall ceilings and the amount of natural light makes the space feel bigger.

Credit: Minette Hand

Biggest Challenge: Where to store things. We love having a washer/dryer, but it limits our closet space quite a bit. That is partly why I decided to build our storage bed. The big drawers hold most of our things.

What Friends Say: Cozy and welcoming.

Biggest Embarrassment: Whenever guests come over, I inevitably find myself throwing all manner of things on the far side of the bed to the point where I can no longer access half of my drawers.

Credit: Minette Hand

Proudest DIY: The bar shelf in our kitchen. This was my first woodworking project. When I was little my mom and I often took trips to the post office together and I remember her turning the dial on the combination lock to retrieve our mail. There was something magical about it. Like opening a treasure box. After moving to New York, I passed by a UPS store that had some of these old doors displayed in their window. That was when I first had the idea of making something with them. The store wouldn’t sell them to me, so I turned to eBay and found this beautiful set of doors dating from the 1920s. Each door comes with its own unique combination.

I knew I wanted to build some kind of shelf that resembles how they appeared when you walked in the post office. I lined the inside of the boxes with pages from old books in different languages with themes that are meaningful to us. For instance, pages from a Japanese/English dictionary that contain ingredients for a gin hot toddy, a map of the Russian village where my husband’s ancestors are from and a German poem to represent my family.

Credit: Minette Hand

Biggest Indulgence: Our living room rug. Found it on Craigslist. It reminds me of my grandma’s house. I’m also addicted to buying plants.

Best Advice: It takes time to make a space feel personal. Patience is not my strong suit so I often need to be reminded of this.

Dream Sources: I like objects that have a history or some sort of story that inspired their creation.


Credit: Minette Hand


  • Black chalkboard paint on our kitchen bar cart — Home Depot
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Gray tufted sofa – Craigslist (originally from ABC Home and Carpet)
  • Diamond weave throw — Anthropologie
  • Yellow patterned decorative throw pillow — Target
  • Denim pillow cover — My first sewing project on the Singer
  • Lamp — eBay
  • Singer Sewing Machine — Craigslist
  • Hurricane lamp and candle snuffer — Gift from Brian’s grandma
  • Wooden box on the singer — Antique market on a road trip to Canada
  • Table and chairs — Thrift store in our neighborhood, Go Green Village
  • Farmhouse bench — Built by Brian and Andrea. Plans by Ana White
  • Dog portraits — Purchased on our honeymoon. The Airbnb we stayed at in Budapest was the home of this artist — Ildiko Olah
  • Paper lanterns hanging in window — Made by Andrea
  • Custom house portrait — Jade Doyle (Etsy)
  • Big canvas — A work in progress. Based on a photo of rooftops in the city where we used to live, Aix-en-Provence, France. Am learning how to draw and paint with Will Kemp. Highly recommend his classes!
  • Jefferson ladder — Built by Andrea (I’ve always loved the look of home libraries with ladders so I tried to capture the spirit of one by building a shelf high above our couch and a ladder to reach it. I stumbled upon the folding ladder on YouTube when I came across a 1988 episode of “Woodright’s Shop” which demonstrates how to build one using old tools.)
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Magnetic spice holders — Etsy
  • Clay succulent pockets — Made by Andrea. Design by Natalie Shriver, DIY instructions
  • Tins and scales — Thrift store road trip finds
  • Bar Cart — IKEA
  • PO Box shelf/wine glass holder — Built and designed by Andrea
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Storage bed — Built by Andrea. Plans by Ana White
  • Moses baby basket — Plum + Sparrow
  • Bookshelves above the basket — Designed and built by Andrea
  • Wooden sculpture — Ecuadorian Artist, Luis Potosi
  • Painting below shelves — Sonal Nathwani
  • Black desk — Asian Barn NYC
  • Artwork above black desk — Custom drawing/watercolor of our rooftop; Groupmuse concert Violet Paek Illustration Children’s books illustrator / Butterfly stamp with quote — Mandolin Brassaw
  • Paint corner behind bedroom door — Paint/brush holder and paintings (still life + John Constable reproduction) — By Andrea
  • Black and white rug — Target
  • Bookshelves on either side of the bed — Built by Andrea
  • Pottery on window sill — Arhoj
  • Artwork above the bed — Made by Andrea (I was planning to make wreaths with the copper tubing I bought and by happy accident I ended up making this shape and thought it looked beautiful. The evergreen represents where my husband and I met (Portland, Oregon), the lavender, where we fell in love (Aix-en-Provence, France) and the rosemary from our garden where we live now (New York City).
  • All the furniture built by Andrea was assembled in the apartment. (Yes, we had a lot of sawdust in our home for a while.) The tools live under the couch.
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Garden — Milk crate planters and wooden pallets courtesy of NYC bodegas and grocery stores.
  • Furniture — West Elm
  • Tiles — Etsy

Thanks, Andrea and Brian!