Living Small in NYC

Two of my first apartments in New York City each had only about 200 square feet.

Having moved to Manhattan from a 900-square-foot apartment in Virginia, making it work took some creativity - and serious purging.  It got even more challenging when I started my business from one of those apartments (the one pictured on the left).

Here are a few ways I made those spaces work for me:

#1 - Edit, Edit, Edit

Small spaces force you to evaluate what you really need, and what is expendable.  While some china and a few other family pieces remained at my parents' house during these years, I got rid of almost all of my furniture - along with literally hundreds of books and movies. 

#2 - Bed Risers

I see photos of gorgeous small spaces with sleep lofts, but that was not an option.  Bed lifts - which cost as little as $10 per set - were a perfect alternative.  I needed the single closet in the apartment for my wardrobe, and these created a much-needed storage area underneath the bed. (Photo courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond).

#3 - Murphy Beds

One apartment had a Murphy Bed.  It was in brand-new condition, and the previous resident was happy to give it to me, to avoid spending several hundred dollars to remove it and patch up the floor and walls.  For the cost of a new mattress, I got a comfy bed and the ability to have an actual living room in a one-room studio! 

#4 - Storage Cart

This 8+1 wooden storage cart was the best tiny space purchase I ever made.  The small footprint perfectly fit the sliver of wall space between the closet and kitchen in the floor plan shown on the left.  The shallow drawers on top housed kitchen utensils and spices, while the bottom drawers stored paper and other office supplies.  I bought this 12 years ago, and it has stayed with me as I moved to larger spaces. (Photo courtesy of Home Decorators).

#5 - Creative Holiday Décor

One of the few things I disliked about small space-living was that there was literally no room for even the smallest Christmas tree.  My solution:  hanging a large, lighted wreath on the living room wall.  I loved the look and how it brightened the small room, and ended up removing the Christmas adornments and keeping it up long after the holidays were over. (Photo courtesy of QVC).


What have you done to make small spaces work for you, either in small apartments or larger homes?