Moving to NYC: Maximizing Space in a Small Apartment

When I decided to move from my spacious condo in Chicago to my charming West Village studio in NYC, I knew I needed to downsize my belongings. Determined for my new space to still feel like home, I set out to make it a mini-version of my Chicago condo. Here’s how I did it:

Measure twice, move once. Even before I secured my NYC apartment, I had a general idea of what would fit into a studio. With that knowledge, I made an initial cut of what I needed to sell or give away. Next, I measured the furniture in my apartment that was coming with me. As I looked at apartments (virtually due to COVID restrictions), I requested floorplans and wall measurements. With these sets of measurements, I plotted my furniture on the floorplans to confirm that it would all fit.

Get creative with furniture and storage. There are many small space storage tips out there, but these are a few of my favorite learnings:

Consider a platform bed frame to save space. The area designated as the bed nook is small. To accommodate this, I kept my queen-sized mattress but bought a wood platform bed frame. The bed frame does not take up any unnecessary space, and to make up for not having a headboard, I hung a large canvas of art above my bed.

Maximize a small kitchen with creative storage. My apartment’s kitchen takes up one of the walls in the main living space. I did not want my kitchen to be visible at all times, so I hung curtains with a suspension rod to block off the kitchen area. Since my kitchen is small, it also does not have any drawers, a pantry, or ample storage for pots and pans. To remedy this, I bought a console table with drawers to store eating and cooking utensils, hung pantry shelves on the inside of the coat closet, and stored pots and pans in the same closet on some wire shelves.

Make use of that decorative fireplace. Decorative fireplaces are a common feature in many pre-war apartments. I love the charm it adds to my space, but it also takes up a lot of valuable real estate. Since I did not have room for bookshelves, I realized this was the perfect place to stack my books. Not only does it look chic, but it uses space that otherwise would have sat empty.

Don’t worry about closet space for your clothes and shoes. As someone enrolled in the Fashion & Luxury MBA cohort, this might surprise you. Let me set the record straight: I have a lot of clothes and shoes. But, I realized looking for apartments with ample closet space was a fool’s errand. Instead of finding the perfect closet, I transformed part of my entryway into a closet. I installed clothing rods and shelves and curtained the area off with a tension rod (again). This provides me with even more closet space than most of the apartments I looked at.

While my apartment is still a work in progress, moving into an NYC studio was not as difficult or restrictive as I thought it would be. It does require upfront planning and a little imagination, but do not let that intimidate you. I love my little “chateau” in the middle of West Village, and it unquestionably feels like home.