Inside My First (280 Sq. Ft.) New York Apartment

Gabrielle Savoie's New York Apartment

I never thought I would downsize once again. When I moved into my last place in Montreal, I thought 515 sq. ft. was as small as it was going to get. I was wrong. Everyone knows that moving to New York is expensive—but one can never really fathom how much you’re faced with signing a lease on an apartment that’s less than half the size and more than three times the price of your old rent. But as cheesy as it sounds, I wouldn’t have traded this tiny space for the world.

On moving day, I sat in my empty 280 sq. ft. apartment wondering if I had lost my mind to move into a space so insanely small—but there was one thing I knew for sure—I wanted to be here. And as things kept trickling in as the movers unloaded the truck, one thing became immediately apparent: I owned way too much stuff.

It took a while to make this place my own. Between long hours at the office and a complete feeling of hopelessness in front of the accumulating clutter in my tiny space (not to mention the overwhelming amount of better things to do in the city that never sleeps), I put off decorating my New York apartment for much too long.

I read Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy (and subsequently threw out/donated a ton of stuff I didn’t need), I spent countless hours looking for the perfect sofa (which I eventually found in the Commune collection for West Elm), and put off installing blinds for way too long—especially considering The Shade Store made it the easiest process ever and, in turn, the best decision I made in the space. Around Thanksgiving, my apartment was finally in a place where I was 100% comfortable to come home without feeling like I needed to decorate, hang art, or declutter.

And then, one morning in December, I got an email from my broker—your building has decided to sell your apartment, and you’ll have to move out at the end of your lease—no! I was barely done decorating, had only lived in my space for a few months, and had finally fallen in love with the place. Reluctantly, I started looking for a new place (and saw a lot of underwhelming apartments before finding my new one).

I’ll still miss my first New York apartment—some parts more than others. I’ll miss the beams of sunlight streaming in from every angle on weekend mornings and coming home to my own glorified hotel room. I will not miss the tiny bathroom where I bumped into things more times that I care to admit, the insanely loud banging of steam radiators in the middle of the night, or the absurdly slow 1920s elevator that smelled of peppermint and moth balls. But if New York has taught me anything (and by anything I mean a lot), it’s how to live in a small space and love it (and you can read all about it on MyDomaine).

 

SHOP MY NEW YORK APARTMENT

 

best small space dresser

small space living ideas

small space dining ideas

bedside table decor

best bedroom sconces

bedside table decor

small bathroom ideas

Photos: Sean Litchfield for Savvy Home

One Room Challenge: Week 5

One Room Challenge Week 5

Oh hey, I’m alive! Okay—time for a reality check: turns out that moving into a new city (not just any city—the one that never sleeps), plus starting at a new office with a new team, AND decorating an entire apartment in six weeks, while trying to also maintain a blog, client projects, and a semblance of a social life might have been a tad overambitious on my part. Live and learn right? Let’s go over some of the progress from the past few weeks.

 

CHALLENGE NO.1

First, I went through 20 million iterations of my original design, because I’m pretty new at living in a space that’s essentially 300 sq. ft. (maybe more? maybe less… I don’t even want to find out). The original floor plan (while good on paper) just felt off. Something about the single lonesome chair squished in between my four poster bed and my breakfast barstools was literally keeping me up at night. I was even more troubled after interviewing a fabulous feng shui expert for MyDomaine, who essentially said the words—and I quote: “are you chronically single? Assess if you’re loading up your home with single imagery—a single vase, a single chair, a single person in a picture.” Arrrgh! Okay—I need a pair of chairs—with a bunch of baby chairs. I kid.

 

CHALLENGE NO.2

So reworked, and reworked the tiny floor plan in every iteration humanly possible, until I got the perfect layout with a pair of chairs! Alleluia! And it makes so much more sense! My dresser will now double as my bedside table—leaving just enough space across for a pair of chairs with a shared side table, and maybe a pouf (read: a pair of poufs)—because I found the most amazing leather ottomans on Etsy and I can’t get my mind off them. The only downside is that I have to give up my dream of being able to watch TV from both my bed and my lounge chairs. Dreams, as it turns out, are not that big in NYC—not when it comes to apartments anyway. The truth is, I haven’t had time to watch TV anyway. I don’t even own one! Problem solved.

 

CHALLENGE NO.3

Which brings us to problem no. 3: the windows. Unlike Monica and Rachel, I’m lucky not to have an ugly naked guy to look at outside my window. My apartment faces a large courtyard—and the neighbors on the other side are a safe distance away, but they’re there. I could probably count over a hundred windows to peek into if I wanted to—which means they can peek into my apartment. Eeek. And while I don’t love waking up in a blackout dark room (it’s hard enough to get out of bed as it is), I also don’t want people to be able to stare straight into my apartment. Mind you—I don’t know why they would. On the off chance that I’m home, I’m probably sleeping, or at my computer blogging. FUN! After digging through options, I finally found the perfect rolling shades that offer just enough opacity to give me peace of mind, while still letting the sunlight stream in. One brownie point for me! And peace of mind restored.

 

CHALLENGE NO.4

Problem No. 4: onto the next (and probably biggest) challenge—storage. This should come as no surprise that storage in a New York City studio is mediocre, at best. Which is why this TV stand/dresser from Blu Dot was the first piece of furniture I landed on. The best part: it has both drawers for clothing, and doors for storing everything else. The space under my bed now essentially doubles as my broom closet, sports locker, and part-time beauty station. And if I don’t get the time to exercise, at least I get a work out from lifting full suitcases up to the space above my closet. Let’s pause and note that these suitcases should be emptied and given to charity, because under no circumstance am I ever going to have the courage to drag them back down—no matter their content. So the only real solution here is called KonmariAnd it’s a work in progress.

 

CHALLENGE NO.5

Which brings us to week 5. In short, I tweaked the floor plan to perfection—and I’m slowly editing down my space with the help of Marie Kondo to make it 100% functional, but also elegant and inviting. The good news is—most important pieces have been ordered. Bad news (and I hate to break it to you)—it would be a miracle if I was ready to reveal in one week. So if you don’t get a full reveal at the end of this challenge, at least you’ll get a real raw perspective of what it’s live learning to live in a city like New York. And on that note: if you’re considering a move to the big apple—do it. It’s thrilling (and equally challenging) in more ways than you can imagine. On this happy note, peace out. Next week: A (maybe partial, maybe full) reveal!

 

THE TO-DO PROGRESS LIST

Repair or replace marble bistro table

Order mirrors

Order dresser

Replace rug

Replace desk chair

Order new chairs

Order dreamy side table

Order leather poufs

Assemble bed

Hang sconces

Install rolling shades

Hang art + pick a few additional pieces

Replace existing lighting / Center pendant above the bed

Accessorize and style

 

FOLLOW THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE

Claire Brody | The Curated House | Design Manifest | Driven by Decor | Honey We’re Home | Hunted Interior | The Makerista  | Making it Lovely | My Sweet Savannah | Pencil and Paper Co. | The Pink Clutch | Savvy Home | Simplified Bee | Sketch 42 | Jill Sorensen | Orlando Soria | Thou Swell | The Vault Files | Waiting on Martha | The Zhush | Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

One Room Challenge: Week No. 2

One Room Challenge Spring 2016 Inspiration — Gabrielle Savoie

Time for an #ORC update! Full confession: I haven’t actually started ordering yet (eek), but I mostly know where I’m going—and it looks something along the lines of the design boards below. I’m basically using some existing furniture from my last apartment—my bed, bistro table and barstools, and infusing them with new accents and personality. You might remember from Week 1 that the marble top of my bistro table shattered in the move, but I’m hoping to get it restored (fingers crossed). It fits so perfectly in the sunny corner nook of my apartment, and it feels wasteful to replace it for a near identical option.

 

SHOP THE DESIGN BOARDS

One of the first things you notice when walking into my apartment, is how the builder grade pendant lighting really clashes with my overall décor—picture girly chrome drum pendants—but not in a good way. So I’m really hoping that my super will allow me to switch them to prettier alternatives. The main one that hangs above my bed is also very off-centered—which really grinds my OCD gears, so the plan is to loop the new one with a ceiling hook, and center it above the bed.

The next main point of importance is storage: I need more. I fell in love with this Blu Dot cabinet because it has half drawers, and half doors with shelves. Across from the dresser, I was hoping to squeeze in a tiny loveseat, but after measuring last week—I really only have 3-4 feet to work with, so a large lounge chair will have to do. So far guests have been sitting on my bed, which is very middle school chic. I’m keeping all my new furnishings really light and bright to  not overwhelm the already crowded space, and also because it’s pretty.

For windows, I’m also going super light and airy—I’m thinking minimal white linen roller shades with an inside mount, but I could also go really breezy like in the room above—what do you guys think? Tailored to perfection, or breezy boho?

One Room Challenge Spring 2016 Inspiration — Gabrielle Savoie

 

FOLLOW THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE

Claire Brody | The Curated House | Design Manifest | Driven by Decor | Honey We’re Home | Hunted Interior | The Makerista  | Making it Lovely | My Sweet Savannah | Pencil and Paper Co. | The Pink Clutch | Savvy Home | Simplified Bee | Sketch 42 | Jill Sorensen | Orlando Soria | Thou Swell | The Vault Files | Waiting on Martha | The Zhush | Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

Photo: JJ Locations

This Minimal Paris Apartment is the Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Whoa. Who knew 600 sq. ft. could look so cool. The long and narrow minimal Paris apartment designed by Septembre Architecture features original period charm in an edited and modernized setting. The minimal grey and marble kitchen is framed with period mouldings.

Even though much of the apartment is open space, each “room” is delimited by a different floor: grey cement in the kitchen, original hardwood in the living area, terrazzo in the office, white painted hardwood in the bedroom, and an adorable black and white patterned hexagon tile floor in the bathroom. In the bedroom, the closet was camouflaged behind a floating wall that doubles as a headboard. A sliding barn door separates the bedroom from the living quarters.

But perhaps the most impressive feature of this apartment is in the bathroom, which is a stunner it itself: while at first glance it may appear to have a his-and-hers double vanity, the trompe l’oeil is actually created by a full wall mirror, which reflects not only the bathroom vanity, but the entire apartment beyond. Genius.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Minimal Paris Apartment by Paris Architecture

Photos: David Foessel, design by Septembre Architecture