No one moves to New York City to get more square footage for their money.
Most of the apartments that 20-somethings (and older) call home range from small to really, really, really small. Things that are taken for granted in apartments in other cities are often luxuries when you move to New York. Windows are a privilege, not a right. And you usually have to pick whether you want them in your bedroom or your living room – it’s hard to find an apartment with both. For humor, here are some sample questions I’ve asked realtors during past apartment searches:
Why is the fridge in the living room?
Is this a seven floor walk up?
So this is originally a one bedroom that was split into a four bedroom?
Is there really no air conditioning installed in the building?
What is a bed bug acknowledgment form?
I could go on and on about the stories I’ve heard from friends about their apartments. My favorite joke to tell is when my friend Allie came to visit and after spending three days hanging out at our apartment, asked me over dinner “So where is your kitchen? I haven’t seen it yet.” I spit up my cocktail laughing and explained that our “kitchen” was in the same room as our living room (“Did you not notice the mini refrigerator and stove in the corner??”).
I’m making a lot of fun of living in New York, but in all seriousness, you pay for the city, not the apartment. And if you’re doing it right, you spend so much time taking advantage of all that NYC has to offer, you realize you actually spend very little time there. But, after all, you should come back from work/vacation/the bar to a place that feels like home. SO, that being said, here are some tips I’ve gathered over the past couple of years to make the most of your space.
Keep your color pattern simple.
Bedding and curtains should be a neutral color. Then you can pick one or two other accent colors to spice it up – for me it was blue and gold. You can mix different shades and patterns of those, but stick with only a couple colors. When you’re living in a small space, an overwhelming duvet cover or loud curtains can make it feel smaller. Start simple and then add pops of color as you go. Feel free to go nuts with the pillows!
Pick a statement piece.
Britt Ford was kind enough to whip up a flashy custom painting for me that tied my color pallet together, but a starburst mirror or fun print are also good options. I’m very partial to any print by Grey Malin.
Paint an accent wall.
Even if you only plan to be in your apartment for one year, put some (neutral) color on the wall. All white walls are boring and one painted wall (even if it’s a pale grey) makes the space seem more permanent. Bonus: all NYC apartments are repainted before they are turned over to the next tenant, so you don’t have to worry about painting it back white when your lease runs up.
Make the most of the space.
If you don’t have a bed frame, elevate your bed with blocks and buy a bed skirt if needed. Extra storage under your bed is great for out-of-season clothes (invest in long, narrow bins), luggage, and shoes. Buy a shoe or tie rack to hang on the back of your bedroom or closet door. Find a small dresser (good options at IKEA) that will fit in your closet if there isn’t enough space for one in your bedroom. Try to keep furniture minimal – you want to have enough space to move around without knocking into things.
Keep it tidy.
There is nothing worse than trying to find something you need in a messy room when you’re running 10 minutes behind. I try to live by the 30 second rule. If it takes less than 30 seconds to clean up, do it now. This is one it took me a while to get used to (especially because my room was a disaster in college), but make your bed every morning. Not only is it nice to come home to, but also you’ve completed a task before you’ve even left your bedroom and that gets your morning off to a good start (small wins!!).
When you come home from a trip – no matter how tired you are – unpack your suitcase and put everything back where it belongs before you go to bed.
Small changes make a big difference.
I bought a $4 bottle of gold spray paint from home depot and re-purposed a picture frame and jewelry tree. Now I can’t put it down (pumpkins, utilities… I may have a problem). It’s an inexpensive and easy way to make the room more cohesive.
Add some greens.
If you’re an over achiever, flowers and plants are great. If you’re like me and can barely keep yourself alive, much less an orchid, synthetic greens do the trick just fine.
Pick a scent.
I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many candles. I’m a big fan of switching up the scent to match the season, but you can never go wrong with vanilla.
Deer Head: Etsy