How to Make Your Teeny Tiny Apartment Feel a Million Times Bigger
August 18, 2017
Home ToursInterior DesignTips
Small New York City apartments have nothing on the design prowess of Samantha Penner of The Peak of Tres Chic. For her recent move, she ditched all pre-conceived notions of small space living and turned her apartment into a thing of beauty and one that doesn't shy away from color, large and in charge art and loads of glamour. Tour her fun space captured by Sean Litchfield right here.
When most people imagine living in New York, images of cramped spaces, dilapidated buildings, and sky high rent prices come to mind. I was no different! I had always wanted to live in New York, but the idea of leaving the comfort of my Texas townhouse rental and starting over in a tiny apartment wasn't very appealing. Even so, I moved to the city in July of 2015 for an amazing job opportunity and spent a few weeks living in a hotel out of my suitcase while looking for an apartment. After viewing some truly horrific studios, I was serendipitously connected with two girls through a sorority sister who were looking for a third roommate in the Upper East Side. I'd have my own bathroom, get to live with two seasoned New Yorkers, and would actually be able to afford the rent- so it was an obvious win-win-win.
Even so, I was nervous to relocate to a tiny bedroom, and I knew I'd have to create a design that made me feel both comfortable and happy in such close quarters. I also knew how important it was that every piece in my new room be functional.
The process of downsizing taught me a lot- I had to channel my inner Marie Kondo and pare down my clothes, shoes, and sadly, furniture. I couldn't part with some of my furniture and art collected throughout my earlier 20s, so I left those pieces behind in my parent's attic - confident I'd eventually make it to a larger space once again at some point down the line.
Much to my surprise, I found the process of cleaning out and starting fresh revitalizing. Paring down and keeping only the essentials taught me that there really isn't much I need to live comfortably and be happy. To me, the "essentials" include an oversized abstract painting in a bold pink hue by artist Kelly O'Neal, 6 decorative throw pillows for my bed in rich silk velvets and mohairs, and a mirrored dresser that holds all my sheets and fold-able clothes. But really, not much else!
Having a small space means you'll have to be a little more creative with storage and decor and you'll certainly have to think outside the box- but it doesn't have to be cramped or, god forbid, boring.

Here are a few of my personal tips for creating big style in a small space...

Place risers underneath the feet of your bed to accommodate under bed storage. I utilized Container Store's Wide Under Bed Storage Bins (http://bit. Ly/2sYAgaG) to hold my additional bath towels, books, and off-season clothes. Then, I had my favorite upholsterer, Victor Hernandez Upholstery in Long Island City, make me a custom bedskirt to hide the storage.

Adjust your closet according to the season. Nothing stresses me out more than too many clothes packed together on a closet rod. You can't see what you have available and the items in the back of your closet never get used! Since my closet was roughly 36"W x 24"D, I kept only seasonal clothes hanging up . In the summer, my sundresses, skirts and lightweight blouses were displayed comfortably, without being jam packed against my winter sweaters and coats. On my shoe stand, I had only my sandals and summer shoes out to view. I carefully folded my winter clothes and boots and placed them in one or two of the storage bins underneath my bed.

Pick a few high-quality functional furniture pieces that you absolutely adore and spend the money to buy them. In my room, as you can see, I only have 4 pieces of furniture: My full-size bed, my bedside table, my dresser, and my acrylic chair. Each piece has multiple purposes. The dresser not only stores my fold-able clothes, pajamas, and bras/underwear, it also stores extra sheeting, scarfs, and gloves in the bottom drawer. The drawers are spacious and deep and can accommodate a lot of items. Plus, the outside is beautiful and creates a statement when walking in the room. The chair is perfect for putting my shoes on in the morning and I pull it up to a mirror on the back of my door when I apply my makeup and curl my hair. The bedside table has a drawer to hide small tech items, matches for my candles, and the book I'm currently reading while the two shelves underneath provide a place for me to display all the coffee table books I love. I opted for a full size bed rather than a queen to save 5" of width to allow for more walking space in the room.

If you have a bit of hidden floor space, like I did in my closet, stack freestanding drawers or place a file cabinet to stow away important paperwork and documents. I stacked 5 of the Container Store's clear sweater drawers (http://bit. Ly/2uhBT72) in my closet corner and placed my handbags in them. I liked the clear option because I was still able to see what was stored inside each drawer and I didn't forget about the items when putting together an outfit. For my files, hardcopy design portfolio and office supplies, I purchased CB2's TPS 3-drawer white file cabinet (http://bit. Ly/2sYYC3O) and stored them inside.

Do away with as much unnecessary items as you possibly can. If it doesn't "spark joy" or truly make you happy, you don't need it! To me, nothing feels more creatively stifling or frustrating than to be surrounded by too much stuff. Letting go of clothes I hadn't worn in years and selling furniture that I only felt so-so about made me feel spiritually and physically lighter. At the end of the day, I love color and pattern and I didn't want to have to compromise that simply because my new room was small. While many people might be drawn to a more neutral color palette or minimalist pieces, I hope my room can provide proof that going bold is possible (and for me personally, desirable)!
Vendor Credits
Needlepoint Lumbar Pillow on Bed
Jonathan Adler
Cornice Boxes and Roman Shades on Windows
Liven Up Design
Cornice Box and Shower Curtain Fabrication
Liven Up Design
Black Flamestitch Fabric Pillows on Bed
Schumacher "Shock Wave" in Platinum & Jet
Bedside Table Fabric Shade Manufacturer
Shades from the Midnight Sun
Photograph Above Towel Bar in Bath
Slim Aarons "Monte Mano"
Photograph Above Bedside Table
Stephanie Vovas Photography