This is the place. A studio on the Upper East Side that measures 1 square foot (rough estimate):
Well, more like 295 sf but for anyone not living in Manhattan it may as well be a utility closet.
This is the main living space. There is a door that leads to a small private patio, which the sleeping alcove overlooks. The kitchen and bathroom are just opposite. The floor plan is open but toight (pronounced t-OY-t). Each piece of furniture will have to serve two functions at the very least—there can’t be any excess fat!—as well as makes sense within the layout.
Here’s a detail of the sleeping alcove:
It measures approx 5’ x 4 1/2’. I’m opting not to put my bed in that deathtrap. Doing so would give myself a little more than and inch of clearance on each side, so although it would free up a lot of space in the center of the apartment, maybe even allowing for a couch, I think I value nighttime reading under a lamp and unbruised elbows more.
A desk would be the other natural thing to put here but I’ve decided against it. I sit behind one every day and when I come home I almost never use my own to write. More often than not I’m in bed or laying on the couch while I type, so I’m going to try just getting by with only an armchair. This way it can be a comfortable workspace and double as seating for a friend. The only problem is the alcove is wide and shallow. Filling it with a chair, end table and reading light might come off a little too Mister Rogers Neighborhood, ya know? Either way I can tell this space is going to give me some trouble.
This is the reverse view, looking towards the kitchen and bathroom:
I dig the window into the kitchen in a mod sort of way. You can almost smell the upside down pineapple bundt cake in the oven. And it really helps the space feel bigger. The ceiling light is garish. Eesh. Will have to do something to soften it.
See that closet? That one right there? That’s the only one in the joint. Everything I have to hide—winter coats, suits, suitcases, linens, shoes, broom, vacuum, documents, dog toys, dead bodies—will be happening in there, and it’s a full foot shorter (length and width-wise) than the space I currently keep all those things in.
If someone comes over and asks where the magics happens, I will point to the closet and not the bed.
This is the kitchen:
There’s ample cupboard space. And that’s the only ample thing about it.
I mean, where’s the beef, man? A dreidel has more top than this counter. There’s no dishwasher so unless I can think of another way to dry my dishes a drying rack will really dominate the space. After that I won’t have room for much else, maybe a salt shaker or two. I have an electric mixer, but that can fit in the drawers below, and a coffee maker which will need to be pitched for a more easily stow-able French press.
I’m a big believer in the power of negative space. Don’t put something somewhere just because the space can accommodate it; it has to make sense and look clean. Clean space, clean mind. When I see a space so cluttered I can’t see the counter below I go all Roger Rabbit after a shot of whiskey.
Yup. At least there’s plenty of storage which will give The Magic Closet a little break, but the real trick will be trying to make this room feel open and dehumidified despite not having a window.
There’s not enough room to place a small linen closet (I was hoping for this one from Ikea). I’d have to sidestep out of the shower every morning to get around it.
Since I can’t demo a window and there’s no space for furniture, I think the best way to get some character in here is through the fixtures. Towel hooks instead of racks, vintage cabinet knobs, a very cool bamboo mat and that may be it. Fix what you can and forget the rest!
The patio off the back door has an enormous ventilation duct cutting it in half, so I’m choosing to be optimistic and see it as an opportunity to define separate dinning and workout areas. In the rental market of Manhattan you have to make some lemonade, even if it’s not in your nature. Depending on the power situation, I think something as easy as a few strings of globe lights draped across each side of the fence will do it.
Outdoor space is rare in the city and you never know how long you’ll be allowed to stay in your current apartment (angry super, decisive management company, hoards of marauding cockroaches). I’m loathe to invest in outdoor furniture right now considering a) I need to use those funds elsewhere and b) I may be packing up next year and moving to a place where I won’t be able to use it. If a deal comes along, great, but I’m not going to stretch myself thin just for aesthetics.
Design is only effective when you’re comfortable and enjoying it. If you look at something and think, “Why did I invest in this?” why use it? The anxiety will ruin even the most idyllic space, so get ready for some plastic stacking chairs from the grocery store!
And one last thing, a look inside the mind of an anal retentive, Type-A mad man:
It’s like John Nash getting slapped in the mouth with a herring by the Swedish Chef—detailed but incomprehensible.
Hurdy durdy durdy hurdy!
Maybe this question is uncouth, but I’m contemplating a move to NYC next year for work and wondering if you can give a ballpark figure for what you’re paying in rent.
Not at all. When moving to the city I think it’s always best to prepare to overpay so when you find a deal you’re pleasantly surprised. This should help to keep your expectations in check. If you want to live alone in Manhattan estimate rents will be 2K (studio) and 3-3.5K (1 bedroom). Of course that will vary widely based on what neighborhood you’re looking at but maybe that’s a good start?
Real estate here is, as I’m sure you already know, batshit insane, and living by yourself does not come without hefty sacrifices to your budget. Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx–Harlem–these are all drastically cheaper and you’ll get more room for your boom, so if it’s space you want without the price DEFINITELY check out fringe neighborhoods in other boroughs. Just make sure you’re near some transportation and a decent take out (for nights you get home at 2am from happy hour).
Good luck with the move! Let me know what you decide and what you’re looking at. Thanks for giving the blog a read!!