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The Joy of Designing in a (Very) Small, Shared Space.

By: Danielle Clockel

Ah, New York: big city, small apartments. I moved to Brooklyn in July with my significant other, which meant combining two apartments’ worth of belongings into one little 450 square foot studio. By now we’ve all read the tips and tricks to overcoming small space challenges, but not enough is said about the fun of making it all work. Here’s what I enjoyed most about making our tiny apartment our authentic home.

Gaining big love for little plants. Tragically, I had to rehome several of my larger plants to friends before I made the move to Brooklyn, knowing I wouldn’t have the space for them. However, tending to my menagerie of petite plants (most hardy succulents) and seeing them thrive in their new environment has given me new appreciation for their special details — red edged leaves, propagation progress, and even some tiny new babies popping up from the mother plant. Additional benefit: they help hide some of the cords from my better half’s MANY electronic devices.

Creating a diverse color palette to invigorate the space. Blues, teals, reds, and purples speckle our tiny studio. Against crisp white walls, this bold scheme brings the apartment to life. He thought there was no way to mix floral print with a concert poster — he was wrong.

Creating vignettes to turn clutter into meaningful displays. One shelving unit for all my books and cameras meant each level needed to look good, and not like I had to cram it all in there. So I played around with stacking, grouping, and placement to turn each shelf into its own little display. Have a few of my treasures still somehow ended up on my partner’s own bookshelf? Maybe, maybe not.

I’ve lived in studio apartments for over half of my adult life, but our fifth floor charmer is definitely the smallest. It took even a seasoned pro such as myself a little time to figure out just how to bring two separate households of belongings together in a space the size of some people’s kitchens. But through it all, these were the parts of the process that brought me the most joy, and I believe they can inspire any size dwelling.