Thanks to Smart Planning and a Closet-Turned-Bedroom, a Family of Three Is Living Big in a Tiny Studio

published May 30, 2022
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Name: Kissenia, son Max, and partner, Kim
Location: Bronx, New York City, New York
Size: 600 square feet
Type of Home: Studio
Years Lived In: 6 years, renting

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Kissenia is an artist and mom, but she’s also an authority on small-space living, having successfully shared this small Bronx studio apartment with her partner, Kim, and son, Max for six years. “My favorite thing about my apartment is the way the light comes in on sunny mornings. It makes me happy every single time,” explains Kissenia, who creates plant, home, fashion, and beauty content for her Instagram, personal TikTok, plant TikTok, and Youtube channel. Kissenia also has an Etsy shop where she sells printable plant/herb/fashion-inspired coloring pages and black and white printables.

Credit: Erin Derby

It’s clear from the cute and comfy home she’s created that interior design and architecture are real passions for her, and plenty of her small-space maximizing skills are on display here, too. Kim and Kissenia sleep in a bright corner of the studio apartment divided elegantly by a sheer curtain. And Max has his own cozy bedroom that was converted from the studio’s walk-in closet, which has been adjusted as he’s grown up.

Credit: Erin Derby

It’s not just the interior of their rental home that’s been maximized. “Another favorite [thing about the apartment ] is my balcony, which gets the most love in the summertime where I spend my afternoons gardening. Last year I was able to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and seven foot-tall sunflowers, which I call a success for my first try,” Kissenia writes. “My studio is well loved by my family and I. We are all creative, so there is always a project going on.”

Credit: Erin Derby

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is a little bit of everything, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say it’s thrifted, boho, natural, grandma, and a little mid-century.

Inspiration: I am inspired by anything that gives me good feelings. I’m drawn to a lot of neutrals, but I’m also not afraid of color. The combination is what I think makes it all work.

Credit: Erin Derby

Favorite Element: My favorite element about my apartment is my entryway wall and all the natural light. A few years ago I wanted that trendy banana leaf wallpaper that was everywhere in 2015, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on wallpaper. So against everyone’s recommendation, I painted my hallway black and hand painted a giant leaf. I’ve been in love ever since.

Credit: Erin Derby

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge we have living in a studio is size, storage, personal spaces, and combating natural messes that occur with three people living in a tiny space. We manage this by giving everything we own a home; if it doesn’t have a home it’s a mess and it needs to go! We make great use of our under-bed storage, rotate seasonal items, and rearrange our home frequently to keep up with our evolving needs.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Two unique things about my apartment are one the fact that I have a balcony in NYC. Two, the loft bedroom I created for my son in our walk-in closet. Both things have been a blessing these last few years.

Credit: Erin Derby

Proudest DIY: We converted what would be considered a traditional studio walk-in closet into our son’s bedroom. We’ve done it twice and both times were a success. The first time we used two IKEA TROFAST frames to create a bed frame for a toddler bed. The second time we modified a metal twin loft bed and it fit in the space without an inch to spare. Now we have repurposed the IKEA TROFAST frames into kitchen storage and a new coffee table.

Credit: Erin Derby

Biggest Indulgence: Our bed was our big-ticket item. Second to that was our couch. Both items are furniture pieces we get a lot of use of, and if there is anywhere to invest, I would say it’s on a couch and your bed.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I bought this rainbow window film a few years ago and it’s been the best. It casts a rainbow glow into the studio every morning and it never gets old. Also this huge leather lounge chair I found for $30 at my local thrift store. It is way too big for my apartment, but I’ve always wanted one just like it. For the price, I couldn’t pass it up.

Credit: Erin Derby

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Hide your mess in plain sight. Incorporate necessary items into your decor. Baskets and bins are your best friends. Rotate seasonal items to eliminate clutter and closet and under-bed storage are key. Make a system as to where things go to keep things practical. Never stop thinking of new ways to maximize your space. I’m constantly changing things up just to feel like we have created more space.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Take your time decorating and figuring out what you actually love. A lot of us tend to make our homes comfortable for other people, but make it yours and make it suit your daily needs and routines. Try to make most of your furniture multi-use. I have chairs and stools that I use for entertaining during the summer and as plant stands during the winter. I reuse a lot of my pieces in different areas of the home. Lastly, if you don’t love it, let it go. Make space for the things that truly bring you joy.


Credit: Erin Derby


  • Living Area — Benjamin Moore “November Rain”
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Black Table — IKEA
  • Flamingo Framed art — Drawn by me
  • Green Leaf Mural — DIY
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Ravi Velvet 84” Square Arm Sofa — Wayfair
  • TROFAST Frame — IKEA
  • Large leather chair — Thrifted
  • Canvas Still Life — Painted by me
  • Framed print above couch — Thrifted
  • Pink Velvet Dining Chairs — Wayfair
  • Dresser/ Media Center — IKEA
  • Set of nine flameless candles — Amazon
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Tripod Walnut Table — West Elm
  • Framed abstract print — Thrifted
  • Crystal tea light holder — Thrifted
  • Yoga skeleton — Five Below
Credit: Erin Derby


  • OMAR shelf unit — IKEA
  • Marble Contact Paper — Etsy
Credit: Erin Derby


  • Rainbow Window Film Amazon
  • Glass Makeup Desk — Amazon
  • Glass bedside table and lamp — Thrifted
  • Print above bed — DIY
  • Plant Stand — Amazon
  • Area Rug — Five Below

Thanks, Kissenia!

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