25 Jun New York Living
New Yorkers dream big…
…but live small.
Our First Home
Welcome to West 109th Street right off of Amsterdam. This would be where Nick and I would call home for the first time as a married couple. This building brings back a lot of memories, both good and bad.
We’ll start with the bad. My husband is a real estate agent so I realize it’s obvious I am pro get-a-real-estate-professional-to-help-you-find-property. But I have the perfect example of why it’s true and essential.
Rewind to 2009 when Nick and I just got married. We had very little money, I was bartending, and Nick was armed with a masters degree but no job. He was just moving to NYC to finally be with me. At the time, I was in a three bedroom apartment I had shared with two other friends for a few years. It was time for me to move out and for Nick and me to start a life together.
We wanted to save money so I went on the hunt for a “no fee” apartment—meaning either the management company or owner was handling the search for a tenant themselves or they would pay a real estate agent their fee instead of having the tenant pay the broker the fee.
In this case, the management company was completely representing themselves. They personally put an ad on craigslist and would have one of their employees show any interested renters the space.
This is why this can often be bad:
We saw pictures of this beautiful duplex in a fantastic neighborhood. I called right away and Nick and I went to go see the apartment that day. We arrived and were greeted by an employee of the management company. The apartment was dirty and still hadn’t been cleaned up by the last tenants, but we were assured we would get a fresh coat of paint and that everything would be ready for us when we moved in.
Ok….worst case scenario, I’ll just clean it up myself.
Then we walk downstairs. I was shocked to see 6 planks of wood from the floor forming a huge “bump” across the entire width of the floor. It spanned the entire length of the room. The apartment rep. said it was due to water damage but that it had been fixed and the floor would be addressed before we moved in.
Emotions and NYC Apartment Hunting Don’t Mix
Ugh, I was completely in love with the neighborhood and the fact that this apartment had two floors. I trusted this guy. I’m guessing you can all guess how this story ended.
Yep, move in day came and a gaggle of friends arrived to help me move in. Except the apartment rep was nowhere to be found with the keys to the apartment.
Hours went by.
Finally, he shows up. I get the keys and ran inside, excited to show off our new digs to our friends. Only to find out the apartment was never cleaned…and the floor was never fixed. And I wasn’t protected. I had no one acting on my behalf. It took weeks of arguing and getting the city involved before the apartment company agreed to move us upstairs to a much smaller, but cleaner and leveled apartment.
Marriage was off to a good start. 🙂
Home Sweet Home
Here we were, staring at a 300 sq. ft. apartment. Have you seen Tiny House Nation? Love that show. It’s so inspiring. It’s also what most New Yorkers face every day in their housing market.
How were two people going to merge their lives into this space? The challenge was mine for the taking. It’s been over 5 years since we lived here, but I’m excited to revisit this tiny space that we called home. We maximized space and made it so very cozy:
This was our hallway that connected our kitchen to the office space…or, as New Yorkers affectionally call it: our living room.
It was 6 ft wide and about 8 ft long. This is where we watched TV, played with Hiro, or did anything normal people do in living rooms. But, to us, it wasn’t so bad.
We purchased an apartment sized couch, which means it’s not as deep as most other couches. We mounted a 32″ TV to the wall and sat the cable box on a shelf right next to it so we wouldn’t have to take up space with a TV stand. A simple coat tree caught our coats on the way in. We were pretty proud.
Next up: Our Kitchen and Hallway
The key to this space was maximizing all the vertical space. Our one big investment was purchasing custom made Elfa shelves from The Container Store. I purchased dark brown baskets and tucked away many of our kitchen gadgets. We also hung our pots and pans on this unit. It was perfect.
The kitchen just needed a good scrub down and coat of paint. We chose a dark chocolate brown to offset the beautiful brick wall and white cabinetry. We put the microwave on a stand to maximize counter space.
Having that dishwasher and combo washer/dryer was a dream come true!
Next stop was the bathroom. All this space needed was three glass floating shelving units to house our towels on the wall. More baskets helped conceal essentials like extra toiletries and hot hair irons.
Our “Master” Bedroom
This bedroom was the SMALLEST!
We decided a captain’s bed was the only way to go. The only thing that could fit in this room was a Queen size bed. So, we purchased a frame that had storage drawers on the bottom and a built-in headboard. Nick had to enter the bedroom sideways in order to squeeze himself in before getting into bed.
The Second Room
If we turn back around and go back through the living room you’ll find our bonus room. We used it as an office with the help of another custom Elfa shelving unit. We found the world’s smallest futon and put that in there too in anticipation of friends wanting to come visit.
Manhattan Life Didn’t Last Long
All 300 sq. ft. felt perfect. At $1,600 a month in 2009, we knew we wouldn’t be able to stay long, about eight months. We just became dog parents and wanted grass for Hiro to run around on—not to mention we lived on the fourth floor of a walk up. Who knew puppies had to pee so much!?
To this day this apartment makes me proud. There would be things I would do differently to it today, but this just goes to show we have a knack for maximizing space. I decided right then and there that I didn’t need a lot of space to feel complete. In fact, I would take a small space with a fantastic layout over a large space begging you to hoard more than you need any day. Not to mention, cleaning this sucker took an hour – tops!
New York living continues to be inspirational. Our first year was tough, but we made it through in style!
Would you have done anything different with the apartment?