Small Space Love: The Interior Designer Whose Multifunctional Apartment Is Her Door to the World

published Mar 10, 2017
Post Image
(Image credit: Ana Gambuto)

Small Space Renter: Peti Lau
Lives in: New York, NY
How Small Is Her Space: 800 square feet
Object of Desire: Hawthorne English Arm Sofa

I’m an interior designer with my own practice. My trademark style is “AristoFreak,” which mixes Old World styles with a modern sense. It’s eclectic, romantic, worldly, and just fun! I have projects all around the world with celebrity clients and I travel a lot, so it’s really important that my home is a place to relax and get grounded. I work, cook, and entertain at home, so I have to stay very compact and organized. I would much rather live in a small space that’s beautifully decorated than a big place that feels empty and cold.

(Image credit: Eric Wuu)

The Blueprint

Since my home doubles as a studio for my design practice, I need enough space for samples, materials, a library of design books, and personal items. The tall ceilings (14 feet high!) allow me lots of room for art. The “ground” level houses my living room, dining/work desk, kitchen, bathroom, and storage spaces. The sleeping quarters are lofted, and my office is under my bed. I built a bookcase stairwell up to my loft so I can gain access to my bed — and have space for books.

I currently have a mid-century Barcelona sofa that’s a very modern and classic design. I’d like to mix it up by adding a comfy counterpart like Pottery Barn’s Hawthorne English Arm Sofa to give the space a more tailored, refined aesthetic. I love the rolled arm. The skirt has a sophisticated look, and I like that the sofa is transitional, with all the modern things in my apartment. But most importantly, it’s comfy.

The Inspiration

I translate travel into my home with all my worldly finds: paintings, objects, rugs, textiles, fabrics, and trims that I’ve found on trips and around NYC. I frame my travel pictures and Polaroids and hang them all over the walls in the entry hall. I collect textiles, and I’ll use trims and tassels (like an old-school decorator) from Paris flea markets. I’ll apply them to a lampshade, or sew them onto my sofa to give the space some color and pattern.

I like how the Hawthorne Sofa can be mixed in with fun textures and fabrics to make it look more bohemian, or you could add an Hermès blanket to make it look more sophisticated. I like to create space within a space. For example, in the corner of my apartment, by the window, I created a corner that’s also a space heater, and I filled it with books, magazines and a Ganesh that I found in Chiang Mai. It’s my spiritual corner.

Why I Love Small Space Living

I may not be a small space liver for life, but for now it allows me to store all my stuff! As long as you can find multifunctional uses for space (like a dining table/desk) and unique storage solutions (like built-in bookshelves and under-stair storage) it can work!

The Hawthorne English Arm Sofa is part of Pottery Barn’s new collection of small space solutions. Many of the pieces are multi-functional and provide storage while still being of the high quality and thoughtful design Pottery Barn is known for. The collection is available in select stores across the U.S., and is also available online at

See Peti’s cosmopolitan AristoFreak apartment in her House Tour.

This post is sponsored by Pottery Barn and was created by the Apartment Therapy Creative Studio. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Apartment Therapy possible.