These Lower East Side Designers Built their Tiny Home Out of Things They Love
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Name: Pratika Appaiah and roommate, Mareya Stearns
Location: Lower East Side, New York City, New York
Size: 475 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years Lived In: 9 months, renting
Pratika Appaiah and her roommate, Mareya Stearns, live in their colorful apartment between Chinatown and the Lower East Side in Manhattan, New York. Even though the surrounding neighborhood is lively and bustling, their apartment is “the perfect little cozy plant oasis.” Pratika and Mareya are both designers, and love to surround themselves with things that inspire them, so when it came time to decorate their apartment, it was just one more creative outlet. “I have an excessive amount of tchotchkes, plants, and art,” Pratika says, “so I’m constantly rearranging vignettes throughout our home.”
“Even though our home is tiny,” Pratika says, “it feels a lot bigger because of all the natural light. When apartment hunting, the only must-have on my list was plenty of windows and natural light because of my growing plant collection. After a very long search, we were lucky enough to find a space in our budget that has windows in every single room.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Eclectic, bright, and cheerful. I love a good balance of clean lines, playful objects, and vintage pieces. My style is essentially just a collection of things I’ve found over the years that truly bring me joy.
Inspiration: I’m inspired by the unexpected things I stumble upon while traveling, my plants, and my home Pinterest board I’ve been adding to for over a decade.
Favorite Element: I absolutely love all the natural light in my apartment. I love waking up to sunshine every morning with light speckles from my disco ball taking over my entire bedroom.
Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge was trying to make sure both my roommate’s and my personal styles were reflected in all our shared spaces. While my style leans heavily in the thrifted, eclectic, direction, Mareya’s style is everything you might find at the MoMA store: bright pops of color, and minimal lines. I decided to not be constrained by either of our design styles and instead just surround ourselves with all the things that make us happy: plants, color, and art.
Proudest DIY: My favorite DIY in the space is the plant wall. I have a large plant collection and our living room had the perfect niche for built-ins in a spot that gets all the morning sunlight!
I’m also pretty proud of our DIY kitchen counter. Because our apartment is so tiny, I wasn’t able to find a floating island in the size and budget we needed. I instead bought a console table and placed an IKEA countertop + glass top I found on FB Marketplace on top of it. It’s the perfect prep station and dining area for two people.
Biggest Indulgence: The most expensive thing in our apartment is my green leather sofa, and it was worth every penny. My sofa (we named her Fern) is structured while still being comfortable and lounge-y. I knew I wanted to invest in a really nice piece of furniture when I moved to NY and found my first job after grad school. I’d been dreaming of a green sofa for so long, and when I found Fern — on sale — it was meant to be!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We both work from home and have made it a point to have multiple work-from-home spots in our apartment. When we’re not using our desks or the sofa, our DIY island/counter functions as a standing desk, while the armchair in front of our plant wall serves as the perfect backdrop for zoom calls.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My favorite thing in my home is all my artwork I’ve collected from past travels, flea markets, or gifts I’ve received. Every piece tells a story or takes me back to a place, person, and memory.
A close second is our tea corner. Mareya has a bunch of bold colorful tins and we’re both big tea drinkers. We decided to install some floating shelves in our kitchen to house our teas and a few of our favorite mugs. The bright corner is the perfect spot to begin our daily tea routine.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Less space doesn’t have to mean less stuff! Take advantage of all the vertical space in your home with shelving. In total, we’ve installed 14 floating shelves in our home and it has allowed us to have a specific spot for everything.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? When living with a roommate, the best thing to do is turn a tedious but necessary chore (like cleaning) into something fun. Blast some music, make a celebratory drink or light a candle after to find joy in a typically joy-less routine.
- Leon Sofa — West Elm
- Area rug — Wayfair
- Coffee table — Houzz
- Side tables — Found on the street and repainted
- Banana neon light — Urban Outfitters
- Hanging pendant light — Target
- Armchair — Marketplace
- Cobalt blue/pink throw pillow — West Elm
- Ochre throw pillow — Home Goods
- Black/white throw pillow — H&M Home
- Orange cat pillow — Society6
- Colorful vase — @moonberryclay
- Coffee/Tea mugs — Handmade by our friend, Sarah!
- Sedeta Ladder desk — SEDETA
- Swivel desk chair — Overstock
- Dresser — Vintage, acquired from friend
- Mirror + headboard — Marketplace
- Gold mirror — Acquired from friend
- Throw pillow — Home Goods
- Swing arm lamp — IKEA
- Tiny clay face planters — @caradeplanta
Thanks Pratika and Mareya!
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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