This cozy Upper West Side apartment offers color and community

We independently select these products – if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at time of publication.

Name: Maria Vasquez, David Chikovani, their dog Chonka
Location: Upper West Side, New York, New York
Size: 450 square meters
Type of accommodation: Studio apartment
Years lived in: 1.5 years, rent

For more content like this follow

This apartment was Maria Vasquez’s first place without roommates, so she knew she’d find the perfect place. She had just lived in a dark Brooklyn apartment, so the non-negotiables included lots of natural light and access to the outdoors. When she saw this apartment on StreetEasy, she knew before she even visited that it would be the one. It’s on a landmark block on the Upper West Side, so it’s across the street from Riverside Park and only a 10-minute walk to Central Park. It has large windows and faces south, letting in tons of light every day.

“When I saw the inside of the apartment, I fell in love with its character,” says Maria. “It is in a well-maintained pre-war building with beautiful details. The crown and frames around the windows sealed the deal. I also loved that even though it is a studio, there is still plenty of space to have a comfortable bedroom and living area. I couldn’t believe I found the perfect NYC apartment, so I took it the same time I saw it. Now that I’ve lived here for 1.5 years, I can’t imagine living in any other neighborhood in NYC. All the neighbors are so friendly, and now we have a sweet group of puppy parent friends we hang out with at the park, so for the first time in the 10 years I’ve lived in NYC, I feel like I’m part of a community.”

Apartment therapy study:

My style: Boho meets mid-century

Inspiration: If I could live in an anthropology store, I would. Unfortunately, it is not possible and it is also super expensive. Luckily, browsing is free and FB Marketplace is a great place to find used gems!

Favorite item: Our favorite element of the apartment is the dark green wall with the two windows overlooking the beautiful brown stones and the tree-lined street. Each window has a beautiful frame, so we wanted to make each window stand out as a piece of art by painting the wall dark green. We bought beige curtains that fit perfectly inside the frame so they would blend in with the background.

Biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge for the apartment was figuring out how to make a small space feel spacious. We only had one wall to separate the bedroom and living room, so we purposefully created different “spaces” in the living room. This helps us mentally separate our dining room, piano, office and TV areas.

We mainly used paint to distinguish between the different areas (pink for TV, pink and orange for piano, green for desk, green and white for dining). We also divided the room physically by using the carpet as a partition between the TV area and the piano area. Then we faced the TV and piano areas away from the dining area so when we are there we can’t see the dining area. Similarly, for our living room and bedroom desks, we both face the wall so we can’t see any of the living space while we work. Psychologically, it helps to divide space so much! We also couldn’t forget about Chonka, so we used the inactive fireplace as her little bedroom.

proudest DIY: Our proudest DIY is the radiator box/widow seat. We originally created the window seat so Chonka could look outside or sunbathe, but we also enjoy sitting there and reading a book. We use the seat to read books, work, see people and look at nature. The orange cushion and white frame add a nice pop of color and hide the old radiator, which is a bit of an eyesore.

Biggest indulgence: Our biggest treat was the piano area. We had to look for the right piano to fit the room perfectly, even if it meant going a little over our piano budget. So we came across our Yamaha piano that fit between the wall and the living room carpet. The piano did not come with the stand and chair, so we had to buy them separately. We got the custom “Live Music” neon light through Etsy. We bought the orange paint called “Colorful Leaves” just for the piano bow. It was a big investment for a small space, but totally worth it! We think it adds character to the apartment, it’s nice to have a dedicated space for practicing piano and it’s a great conversation starter when we invite people over.

Is there anything unique about your home or the way you use it? Honestly, not really. We are just being purposeful when adding something to the apartment as space is limited. There is not a corner in the apartment that we do not use every day. So it is adapted to our daily life and needs. If we don’t need it, we don’t add it.

What are your favorite products you’ve bought for your home and why? Lighting is super important. We are not fans of original lighting fixtures or white/cold lighting. We love warm cozy atmospheres, so all our lamps have Phillips Hue bulbs so we can adjust the brightness levels and warmth. We also replaced the boob lamp in the center of the apartment with a modern sputnik chandelier in the center of the living room to add more top-down light and add another design element to the room.

Please describe any useful, inspiring, brilliant or just plain useful tips for maximizing and/or organizing small spaces you have: First tip, don’t buy or add anything to your apartment that you don’t see yourself using often. In the past, I’ve fallen into the trap of buying cute things just because they’re cute, not because I need them, and they end up taking up precious storage space forever! The second tip is to be open about storage spaces. We use the bottom of our couch and bed to store things. The couch is pretty low to the ground, but we found two boxes that fit under it for all of Chonka’s needs and some blankets. We can’t see the boxes either! We also added extra shelves in our closet since our ceiling is so high, so don’t be afraid of DYI storage solutions!

Finally, what is your absolute best home secret or interior design tip? Don’t be afraid of color! Painting walls is such a great way to create the mood you want in your apartment. Whether you want a super bright and energetic home or a relaxed and neutrally toned home. Growing up, my mother painted walls continually so I grew to love painting and learned that it’s OK to start again. It’s more than OK, it’s so much fun! If you don’t like it, or you change your mind after living in it for a while, just paint it back white and start over!

Another tip is to rarely try to buy furniture/furnishings at full price. Be patient with any online used marketplace, you will find gems!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.