A Tiny 275-Square-Foot NYC Studio Is Packed With Small Space Ideas

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(Image credit: Samantha Stein)

Name: Samantha Stein
Location: New York, NY
Size: 275 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Last year, I got moved back to my home city of New York for a project I’m working on. I was excited, but unfortunately it meant a year separated from my longterm boyfriend. I used the opportunity to finally snag a little studio in the West Village and live with just the bare essentials by myself before he comes home! I needed the apartment to be my safe space, so I kept it cozy and neutral with tons of storage to make sure I can easily keep it looking clean and tidy. It’s my oasis in the city for sure.

(Image credit: Samantha Stein)
With the help of friends, I hung shelves and a ‘fauxdenza’ on the portion of the wall that sticks out a little, adding some architectural interest to what could have been an awkward moment. (Image credit: Samantha Stein)

The first day I saw it, it still had some random blue walls and fixtures hanging off the walls, but I knew there was potential to make it feel clean and sophisticated. I guess I should mention I am an architect, so I have a little bit of experience with recognizing potential in spaces and then executing ideas for layouts.

I built and installed the wooden bar top to double counter space, provide some texture, and some much-needed knee clearance! (Image credit: Samantha Stein)

What is your favorite room and why? Since it’s a studio I could cheat and say the whole apartment—but I definitely said YES as soon as I walked in because of the open kitchen layout. I love to cook and socialize while cooking, so the counter was perfect, and I think the open format makes the apartment seem much bigger. Plus—it has a dishwasher!! And a full-sized fridge! Mecca for an NYC chef!

(Image credit: Samantha Stein)
Changing out all the hardware and lighting fixtures that came with the apartment made a huge difference. (Image credit: Samantha Stein)

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Neutral with pops of color!

(Image credit: Samantha Stein)
My bed is my safe haven—it’s nice and tall with storage drawers underneath! The bedside table was a surprise find in the ‘bath’ section of BB&B (who knew it would be so hard to match my exact dimensions needed?) and the mirror over the bed was a vintage find that my boyfriend surprised me with. A good friend did the painting over the couch which I love. (Image credit: Samantha Stein)

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I found out the hard way this winter that the building, built in 1902, doesn’t have the best insulation. I had to seal my windows with plastic to keep out drafts, buy thermally lined curtains, and rotate with my space heater to stay cozy—but it was worth it. If I could magically re-insulate the exterior wall and replace the windows with new ones, I would!

The apartment gets lovely light, even though it faces West—the little garden across the street was one of the reasons I chose it, knowing not directly facing another building would allow for previous more hours of natural light. (Image credit: Samantha Stein)

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My friends were all astonished that I decorated and furnished the whole place, including replacing all existing hardware and lights, painting, installing shelves and art etc., in about a month. Coming from a transatlantic move, I had almost nothing! But the small space helped me stay trim and not purchase too many new things. Since kind of doing the whole place in one swoop, I’d say the only real addition has been more plants. Oh, and the space heater.

In the (narrow!) entryway, I swapped the hinged closet doors for curtains on a rod to allow for a thin console table. It serves as a great landing pad for mail and keys, plus a great spot to get dressed in the morning. (Image credit: Samantha Stein)

Any advice for creating a home you love? I absolutely loved bringing this apartment to life—but I couldn’t have done it without research and inspiration. I had a few images that said “calm, oasis, neutral” pinned that I worked from in terms of color and some design ideas (like the swing-arm lamp helping divide the “living” from “sleeping” space visually) and some things I planned out technically (the fabrication and installation of the wood-bar top).

Thanks, Samantha!

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