This Small Atlanta Studio Apartment Is a Safe Space to Recharge In

This Small Atlanta Studio Apartment Is a Safe Space to Recharge In

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Name: Bria Randal
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Type of home: Studio Apartment
Size: 548 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: This is the first time since living alone that I have come home everyday and smiled because I love my space. I am a extroverted introvert, so the way I recharge is spending time in my apartment arranging flowers or hanging art. I love light, color, and antiques. I also decorate with consistency, memorable pieces, and creams/whites. I think I come off as free-spirited and joyful, but in truth I am pretty calculated and thrive best when I feel like I can rely on my safe spaces. I want people to come into my space and feel like they can take their shoes off and lay back to speak freely.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: A spicy siesta

What is your favorite room and why? Since my apartment is a studio, the entire thing is my favorite! My favorite piece of art is the only thing I’ve truly spent money on. [The print] is called “The Siesta” by Paul Gauguin. He depicts “the unaffected grace and communal ease of Tahitian women impressed Gauguin enormously.” As a woman of color, I wanted my art to reflect beauty I could identify with, not beauty that has been outwardly promoted.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Estelle Colored Wine Glasses. I know it’s not furniture, but they are very important for my wine nights with friends! Also this Johnny Was quilt. It has given so much life and spirit to the apartment.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Take your time. There is nothing like seeing a piece of furniture or art and having an emotion tied to it. For example, I got my Siesta painting from a vintage antique store with my mom. Every time I look at it, I think about the excitement in her eyes when she held it up for me. That was worth having bare walls for about three years!

The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

I don’t have a huge kitchen, considering I have an otherwise fairly spacious four-bedroom suburban house. You enter it from the living room or the garage and always end up hitting the refrigerator with the door on your way in. The kitchen has skinny pantry cabinets on one side and the counters form a U shape. To the right is a tiny coat closet — which sits under the stairs, limiting the overall space — where I store the trash can and a recycling bin. 

Even though my entire kitchen measures 100 square feet, I still make room for one non-traditional yet essential (to me!) item: a plastic laundry hamper. And I stash it in the dead space of my coat closet, right next to the trash can and recycling bin.

I started keeping a hamper in my kitchen because of the pandemic (which is also when I moved into this house). Dirty masks came home in backpacks and purses and I’d leave them at the foot of the stairs to take to the laundry room. Then, my puppy (another pandemic addition) would take it upon herself to eat them up, or, they’d get trodden on or kicked around and by the time I’d find them (if I did!) I didn’t know if they were clean or dirty. I was sick of the mask mess, so I stuck a hamper in the coat closet and started throwing masks and dish rags in there. 

Soon random discarded t-shirts, sweatshirts, pee-soaked pants, and all other manners of “things needing washing” found their way to the kitchen hamper. My son has a propensity to remove his socks the moment he gets in the car after school so I started scooping those up (or, if I’m lucky, prompting him to) and getting them to the hamper. In the summer, pool towels or post-water fight towels had a receptacle here. In the winter, wet gloves got tossed in too.

When it reaches capacity or we run out of masks or dish rags, I take it upstairs and wash it all on hot since it’s the kind of stuff that’s dirty enough to require the sanitary cycle. 

Making space for these gross things has made my house cleaner. And finding something that logically goes in the dead space of my imperfectly designed closet makes me feel like I’m using the space to the fullest potential. I was happy to hear that I’m not alone in this: My neighbor shared that she too stores a hamper in her kitchen, which she primarily fills with clothes that her toddler destroys after every meal. Barring a full remodel, I feel I am making the most of the kitchen space I have.

Whether it’s a kitchen hanging basket or mesh bag, mudroom hamper, or garage basket, many of us have a catch-all tool in our homes. What’s yours?

A Compact, Narrow NYC Apartment Feels Much Larger Than 650 Square Feet

A Compact, Narrow NYC Apartment Feels Much Larger Than 650 Square Feet

Erin Derby

Photographer

Originally from California, but turned New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been shooting my entire life and am still inspired and excited about it. Lately I have been putting my energies into my Fine Art, which can be seen on my website and on Saatchi Art. Being infatuated with interior design doesn’t hurt either, which mixes well with my love of photographing interiors.

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See How This Family of Five Is Able to Live Stylishly in Just 600 Square Feet

See How This Family of Five Is Able to Live Stylishly in Just 600 Square Feet

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Name: Heather, Michael, Lennon (4 years), Georgie (2.5 years), and James (15 months)
Location: Upper West Side — Manhattan, NYC
Size: 600 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years Lived In: 9 months, renting

Six hundred square feet of living space is small even for just one person. But for a couple and their three kids who are doing so both stylishly and functionally? Now that’s impressive. But that’s just what Heather and Michael are accomplishing with their three young daughters after moving from California to New York recently. “We found our apartment while we were still living in California, prior to moving to New York City,” writes Heather. “We did a virtual tour of the space, fell in love from afar, and the rest is history!

Despite so many people living in so little space, their home doesn’t feel too crowded or busy at all, thanks to both architectural elements the apartment provides and decor and storage ideas the couple implemented. “Our favorite thing about the apartment is definitely the view of Central Park. Looking out the window and seeing wide open space and lots of trees makes the small space feel so much bigger — almost like we have a yard (*almost*)! We live in a corner unit which has given us some additional windows and lots of natural light — a very close second favorite feature about the space.” Along with embracing all the natural light (and enhancing it with a few well-placed mirrors), the couple also stuck to a neutral and light color palette, which helps make the place feel serene and airy. And they used vertical space wisely to free up floor space, like the living room’s sleek wall-mounted shelving, and the primary bedroom’s petite wall-mounted work space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy, thoughtful, not fussy, somewhere between minimal and collected.

Inspiration: I find a lot of inspiration from interior design books and Pinterest (I could look at photos of beautiful interiors for hours!). I love and appreciate so many different styles and I find that my inspiration is always changing and shifting, which is usually reflected in our home in some way. Definitely inspired by nature as well — natural textures, materials, and colors are some of my favorite design elements.

Favorite Element: Most definitely the corner window in the girls’ room. It has a little perch — just big enough to sit on — and it makes for the loveliest little window seat. They get tons of natural light in their room and have a wonderful view of the park that we love to enjoy from the corner window.

Biggest Challenge: Finding a way to create a functional and beautiful 600-square-foot space for a family of five was no simple task! We had to be very intentional about the choices we made when it came to furniture, storage, and “stuff” in general. We majorly pared down when we moved here and kind of started over in a sense — we wanted to make sure all the big furniture items were just the right size, in hopes that it would make the space feel bigger and to make the most of every square inch, all while maintaining some negative space as well and not filling every single inch of every room with stuff.

We’re constantly editing our things since even bringing in a couple of new things can affect how the space feels. Minimalism in this sense has been key for us to not feel like we’re bursting at the seams!

Proudest DIY: I’ve been painting a lot the past few months, and I had a lot of fun creating some original pieces for our home (one in the living room, one in our room above the desk). I really enjoyed getting to create unique paintings that I felt complement the rooms and make them feel unique and collected.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Serena & Lily sconces in our bedroom — 100 percent worth it! I love them so much and feel like they make such a lovely statement while still feeling really simple. They bring so much to the space.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why?

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Utilize the walls and go up when it comes to storage (think hanging wall baskets, shelves, stackable storage crates, etc.), hang a large mirror to make a small space feel bigger, and tidy up often! Also, bring in multipurpose items where you can — we use a big stack of books as a side table in the living room, use the small wicker bench as a footrest and an extra seat, etc.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Be patient when it comes to decorating! If you’re at all second guessing a purchase for your home, wait. When the right thing comes along, you’ll know.

Thanks Heather and family!

Erin Derby

Photographer

Originally from California, but turned New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been shooting my entire life and am still inspired and excited about it. Lately I have been putting my energies into my Fine Art, which can be seen on my website and on Saatchi Art. Being infatuated with interior design doesn’t hurt either, which mixes well with my love of photographing interiors.

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A Brooklyn Rental Combines Parisienne & Neoclassical Elements With Lots of Pink

A Brooklyn Rental Combines Parisienne & Neoclassical Elements With Lots of Pink

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Name: Briana Guin and two roommates
Location: Bushwick, NYC
Size: 635 square feet
Type of Home: Three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

“I had just moved back into the city after being home in Alabama for over a year during the pandemic, and I was in a race to find a new place since I was staying with friends in the meantime,” begins Briana Guin, who is an experiential designer at Condé Nast’s in-house creative agency. “I had looked at two other apartments before this one, but as soon as I was going to put down my deposit, someone else always beat me to it. I feel like I lost those for a reason though, because when I came for a tour of this apartment, I fell in love with it in a way I hadn’t with the others, since it had mostly everything I wanted and needed in a home! I didn’t want to lose this one like the others so I immediately put down a deposit, and when I was approved I cried the happiest of tears because after a year of being depressed and feeling stagnant at home in Alabama, I finally felt like I was truly back to both my old self and my home!”

Briana says that one of the biggest selling points to this apartment wasn’t just the space, but the neighborhood’s proximity to fun bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. “Not to mention it’s super close to the L train, so it’s easy for me to get in and out of the city if I’m going to see friends or going into the office!” exclaims Briana. “It’s pretty dangerous though that I’m now walking distance to Friends NYC, which is one of my favorite stores in all of New York! I purposefully leave through a specific exit when getting off the L train so that I won’t pass by it and be tempted, because I’m a sucker for cute little home decor pieces like candles, vases, and glassware, and they have all of it and it’s always extremely cute! So if I walk in, I will for sure walk out with something I love, but don’t always need.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I think I’d describe my personal decorating style as Danish pastel with hints of Parisienne and neoclassical elements if that makes any sense at all! I love whimsical shapes, romantic accents, soft pastel colors, and rounded corners. I then love to have accent and decor pieces that pull from neoclassical architecture and art, like columns, busts, and cherubs. I will also always love a light wood tone and brass or gold mixed in with those softer colors.  

Inspiration: Pinterest is definitely my go-to for inspo, but I also look to art, film, and television. I’ll use them and discover a layout that I really like, a palette that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of, or pieces of furniture or art that I admire and will then set out to find or create pieces inspired by it. Wes Anderson is for sure a big source of inspiration, from the palette to the aesthetic of his films!

Favorite Element: I have a lot of favorites about this apartment, but I’d have to say my top three things are my pink velvet sectional, my washer and dryer in-unit (which if you live in New York you know how big of a deal that is), and my amazing giant open window in the living room. I love making myself a matcha latte or a tea and sitting on my comfortable pink sofa and looking out the window people watching.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge of this apartment was honestly making sure that the majority of the pieces I wanted to include would fit. One of my coping mechanisms when I was back home the previous year (especially when I was furloughed), was breaking out SketchUp and playing around with designing my dream apartment, meaning that I would source furniture, art, and decorations, and then model it out in SketchUp to see how all the pieces worked together. I basically had my apartment designed before I even found a place. So, before I moved in, there were other tenants living in the unit, and they didn’t move out until the day before I moved in, so I wasn’t able to go in and measure the space out like I wanted to in true interior designer fashion. I had to make it count and measure the most important parts during my two tours (and had to measure around their current furniture) and then hope the rest fit.

Thankfully, because of my job, I’m pretty good at eyeing out what can and can’t fit, so I was able to use the pictures I took and the few measurements I had to make a decision and order my bigger pieces like the sofa, T.V. stand, and rug and they all fit! Yay! And looking back, I probably could’ve just waited until I moved in to measure and get all the pieces. I was just so eager and excited to finally be back in my own place and decorate it how I dreamed as soon as possible so I could be done with it and officially get back to living my life in the city, that I let my excitement get the better of me. Plus I had two roommates who were moving in and I didn’t want to ask them to be without those important pieces for too long!

Proudest DIY: So I am a victim of having extremely expensive taste, and I work every day to fight against the impulse and have learned to pick and choose my battles! One of the ways I have combatted against this is getting really into DIYing a cheaper alternative when I can.

I really wanted one of those tile cube tables that was all over TikTok and Pinterest, but I didn’t wanna pay over $600 for one. Then, I saw a tutorial about how to make one on YouTube and just went for it! It took me three days to make, and it’s a little crooked in certain parts, but I’m still so proud of it, and I think it came out pretty good for my first attempt! And I think I ended up only spending $150 on it. My next DIY is one of those squiggly/wavy mirrors because I don’t feel like paying over $2,000 for a mirror.

Honorable mention to me recreating a majority of the art in my apartment on Illustrator and printing it myself to save money, as well as putting up my pink tile backsplash in the kitchen on my own, which is a product I got off Amazon and really transformed the space!

Biggest Indulgence: So I mentioned that I have no problem DIY-ing expensive items like the tile table and the squiggle mirror I’m in the process of making. But there are some things that I can’t make on my own, and I can’t find a cheaper quality alternative. So my biggest indulgence was by far my Cold Picnic rug, because I knew that was the rug that would make me the happiest and I couldn’t find one I loved as much as that one! I’ve wanted one since college, and because I had been good and practical with everything else in my apartment, I let myself get one and I’m so happy I did because I think it ties the whole living room together. It’s also extremely plush and comfortable to sit and lay on, which is the icing on the cake.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I doubt this is truly unique to just my space, especially being in New York, but I love how without realizing it, our coffee table and rug in the living room have become this cool multipurpose area centered around gathering. Whenever we have roommate dinners, we all sit on the rug around the coffee table and eat together and watch a movie or TV show. When we have guests, of course people sit on the sofa, but we’ll have just as many people lounging on the rug or sitting around the coffee table. There are even times where when we’re working from home, none of us are even on the sofa, with two of us using the coffee table as an impromptu desk while the other is laying out with their laptop sitting in the sun like a cat. I really love when random objects take on this whole other wholesome meaning and purpose!

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I’ve mentioned it before, but my pink sectional is one of my favorite pieces because it’s a pretty pink sofa for one, but also because of how comfortable it is! It was incredibly important to me that the sofa I chose was just as comfortable to lounge on and easy to clean as it was cute, because what’s the point of having an aesthetic staple piece of furniture like a sofa if it’s unbearable to sit on or too tedious to take care of?

I’m also in love with my pink Stagg EKG electric kettle! I’d had my eye on it for years but couldn’t justify paying all that money for it. Then my family surprised me with it for Christmas before I moved back to New York, and it ended up being one of the first things I had in my apartment. My roommates and I use it literally every day and it just brings me so much joy. So at least my family knows they got their money’s worth!

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’ve recently gotten really into cute pastel-colored storage crates! I’m a sucker for anything that’s practical but also aesthetically pleasing and those for sure satisfy both of those requirements. They’re not only a pretty decoration that can stay out in the open, but the fact that they can hold a lot and can stack allows me the opportunity to store things vertically so it doesn’t take up more space than necessary in an apartment where every bit of storage counts.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My best piece of advice is pretty cliché, but it’s to just do whatever makes you happy in your home. I’m sure there are a lot of people that would never have a pink sofa in their house, and that’s okay, but it makes me happy every single day to get out of bed and just live and exist in my space, because I took the time and designed it with thought and care. I mean, you have to have a sofa, plates, pans, and toaster anyway, so why not have the version of that functional thing that also brings you joy? And for me, that joy happens to come from having all of those things in pink. Plus, because I only own pieces that I love, I actually want to use them all the time, which means that I end up cooking at home more or making myself that daily cup of tea or matcha at home with my pink kettle. Basically, I just get every bit of use out of these pieces!

Erin Derby

Photographer

Originally from California, but turned New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been shooting my entire life and am still inspired and excited about it. Lately I have been putting my energies into my Fine Art, which can be seen on my website and on Saatchi Art. Being infatuated with interior design doesn’t hurt either, which mixes well with my love of photographing interiors.

Follow Erin