Tag Archives: design sponge

Small Space Solutions (when you both work from home and have a toddler)

I recently started reading the blog 600sqftandababy about a growing family living in a tiny apartment in Canada. They had a second child and stayed put in their tiny apartment. I stumbled upon this site because I was searching for small-space family blogs for interior design inspiration after a particularly stressful freezing day spent inside our small apartment. I was drawn to this blog because our living situation is similar. We are two adults and a two-year-old (with another babe on the way) living in a one-bedroom apartment of roughly 500-square-feet.

The couple and their two-kids-under-three live a super minimalist lifestyle, which I’m trying to implement in my home. Space is functional. I kept poring over their pictures wondering how they made it look so simple…how do they get work done? How does the apartment not look like a goddamn romper room every day? And how is everyone SLEEPING? Sleep is a huge issue in our home. We share a bedroom with our toddler and it kiiiiiinda sucks. (I feel like our whole arrangement might be screwing her up in the long run. Or maybe we are making her the most perfect, well adjusted, supported and amazing person to ever walk the earth. Of course we are.  But let’s get real. No one is getting good sleep…)

I also kept looking around our space wondering why it seemed to jammed in comparison to 600sqft… Aside from a few aesthetic changes that NEED to be made (more wall shelves, smaller dining table, new couch, curtain divider in the bedroom to create the illusion of two rooms and some downsizing) there was something else missing. AND THEN IT HIT ME… Several things hit me, actually. These two parents have thriving careers: outside of the home. And they both seem to be normal sized human beings…

Now take us… My husband, Joe, is an artist/illustrator…he works from home. This is partly by choice because of convenience but also–studio space in NYC is outrageously expensive. To afford a studio he’d have to go way out to East New York or something. I also work from home (I am a freelance writer and I care for our toddler, Emilia). So there you have it: TWO adults and a toddler in 500-squre-feet for roughly 24-hours a day. Save for a few trips to the park, developmental classes and visits to grandma and papa’s (a few blocks away) we’re home a LOT. Like…in each other’s space and up each others butts most of the time. Even when my husband is on a super stressful project with a tight deadline (which is basically every project) he still has to deal with the family circus going on around him. No escape.

Another huge difference is that my husband is roughly six-foot-nine-inches tall. That seems amazing, and it is. But that also means his big clothes and shoes take up a lot of space in our small closet and bigger furniture is required (two major space-saving categories). He will kill me for sharing this but I have to consider everything. The 600sqft couple have a murphy bed. My husband would break that thing off the wall in five minutes!

One major obstacle is the shape of our apartment. The measurements, the construction, weird corners jutting out everywhere…it was NOT designed well. Whoever built our apartment building didn’t imagine that anyone would want to hang things from the walls. There is nary a stud to be found! So my brilliant idea of wall-mounting the TV would be a death trap. The wall shelves are hopefully safe with twenty anchors (Let’s just pray the upstairs neighbors don’t have another flood or the drywall will turn to putty and the screws will just slide out).

Small spaces are always a challenge–financially and visually. Finding easy and aesthetically pleasing items at Ikea or Home Depot is a nightmare. When I see gorgeous small spaces on Design Sponge (like this one or this one, which features 600sqftandababy) or Apartment Therapy (particularly this one) I laugh. Sure you can make a small space look great with a big budget. But if money were no object, we’d have a bigger f-ing apartment, wouldn’t we? Then our small space problems would be solved.

So here goes…

Bedroom: Eliminate two dressers, create a room divider, overhaul the walk-in closet (it is really a step-in and turn). This sounds impossible but with a little imagination and a dozen trips to Ikea and the hardware store I think we can do it.

Living Room: Everything must go. ok not “go” but change. Shelves, new couch, new table (and dining chairs because each one has a 80% risk of exploding beneath my husband every time he sits down).

Storage throughout: I am trying to avoid the urge to turn my apartment into something that resembles a workshop but we need shelves and storage solutions so I’m not tripping over toys and books and shoes.

My first challenge is the bedroom and closet. Stay tuned for posts on our progress.

Loving the new website look for Design*Sponge

Entryway Space | Design Inspiration

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the site Design Sponge–especially for their sneak peeks section where readers can get a peek inside other people’s living spaces. The one above is from Alison Feldman and Jeff Berstrom’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment. I especially love the old photos. Recently, I removed some my entryway decor that was hanging from the first year I moved in…11 years ago. When I was 20 I barely understood myself let alone how to create a tasteful environment. Needless to say, there was a plethora of wall-mounted crucifixes, mismatched shaped mirrors and lots of lanterns cluttering the space. I acquired an old panoramic shot of my grandfather from the 1920’s  standing with his twin brother and the entire Endicott, NY Fire Department. It is a priceless piece of family memorabilia and not only am I thrilled to have it–I’m thrilled to see my aesthetic is similar to other fancy shmancy New Yorker’s featured on my favorite site! (Well, sort of. I need to add a few more frames to make the wall look complete–but it’s a start.)

The key for me is not about spending big bucks on famous art to cover the walls, it’s about making a creative space with meaningful pieces. I framed a sketch that my late uncle Tiziano scribbled in my notebook when I was a kid. I cherish it.

We have one of my boyfriend’s pieces hanging in the living room and a cover of Seattle Weekly that he illustrated.

My only suggestion if you want to make the pieces look great is to get them professionally framed. That’s the next step for a few of mine (I mean all of them) when I can afford it. When they’re mounted and framed correctly it makes all the difference. And try to stick to simple frames (preferable wood) and tasteful matting (white or cream)–it’s worth the extra cash and will blend in anywhere.

I will research DIY framing on my fav Design Sponge site and let you know how it turns out…maybe I can fake a fancy framing job at home.


I love the idea of a home-office and in our case a home-office/art studio—but what we’re dealing with right now is more office than home and I need to figure it out. When I lost my job (oops, where’d it go, I can’t find it) I was excited to spend time writing and working from home. I love being home. But I would love it even more without the clutter, mess and ugly printer/modem/tower/wire-nest/surge-protector pile-up at our feet–not to mention the brushes, ink, paint, pencils, 18×24 Bristol boards, portfolios, drafting table, eraser shavings and inspiration clippings strewn about the living room. As anyone living in New York knows, space is scarce and expensive. Since we’re both toeing the starving artist line I’ve been trying to transform our small apartment into a functional and livable home.

I’m still negotiating with my self-diagnosed OCD and with both of us working here (well, he’s the only one technically working, I’m window shopping for work) every little paper or pencil out of place gets my full attention. I’ve taken to stylizing the corkboards, imagining the perfect drafting table and pontificating on the livability of a workspace. I basically do anything to avoid actually doing anything. Oohhhh that’s not true. Look at me now: typing away, typing away. But really, most of my attention goes to envisioning ideal antique wooden flat-files for his artwork… And, of course, a new desk for me (if you build it, work will come). I spend hours formulating a sophisticated space for us. Now, if I could only get him to throw away all of his stuff, hand me a blank check and free rein–this tiny apartment would be just right. Do you hear that? Like a chain gate crashing in front of me, he will shut that idea down. But he can’t diminish my design dreams!

With a little patience and a frugal boyfriend in mind I’ve been poring over the Design Sponge website for inspiration.  I want minimalist. Industrial meets antique. Kitsch with class. Simple and Stylish. But I’ll pay with my unemployment pittance on a shoestring budget. Here’s a little heads up I gave myself at about two hours into my love affair with the Sneak Peak features on Design Sponge…I doubt anyone understands the terms budget or pittance. There are perfect homes and airy, light filled, banquet-hall-sized places in Brooklyn that I would off an old lady for. So, proceed with caution and remember–anything can be recreated with a few relationship-testing trips to Ikea in a U-Haul, an out of town flea market and fearless dumpster diving.

Here are a few of my favorites:

These are both pictures from Jason Roskey and Maggie Goudsmit’s home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They own a Brooklyn-based furniture store called Fern. The table above is a military inspired  Officer’s Writing Desk. I love simple. But I think I need drawers to hide the junk. Although, those little dewey decimal library drawers might do the trick.



This is the shared home-office/living room space in a small (750 sq ft) house of photographer Kimberly Cornelison and her husband Alfie Ferreyra. I like that they are limited on space but still make it work and look uncluttered. There is nothing worse than having your office look like an Applebees! (The first image of the post is borderline Applebees kitsch with the chachka everywhere–I already have a headache.)



Unfortunately, we don’t have the studio space that artist Rob Ryan has–but I’ll take this helpful organizational tip for my boyfriend’s creative utensils. I’ve already found something on MUJI that should work perfectly.



I have to include the drafting tables. The first one belongs to Texas boutique owner Lara Collins. She inherited it from her grandmother. The second one belongs to Ken and Shino, a husband and wife team behind Fugu Fugu Press.

We are currently housing an oversized, modern, college themed drafting table and I would love to replace it with something timeless and unique. You can’t go wrong with a traditional wooden artist table. Now try convincing my man to replace a perfectly useful anything just for aesthetic reasons. Do you hear that gate? He’ll be shutting me down again!


This office has to be my favorite. Illustrator Alessandra Olanow lives in Brooklyn and requires the same features in a home-office that we do (table-top space, room for art and organization) … I love the order. I love the stylish simplicity. I love the enormous Brooklyn digs! And since she designed the perfect tote-bag for my friend Nell’s swimwear website Sirene I’m sold!

Stay tuned for before and after pics of my home/office improvements.

Tuesday Design Inspiration

I visited some of my favorite blogs and websites this morning looking for inspiration. I discovered something on Design Sponge that I LOVE. Of course when I look for writing inspiration I find design inspiration that I can’t afford to implement…and round and round we go. C’mon mega millions…

This design guru, Catherine Hug, has a DIY section on her blog…which, by the way is all in German so I  had to copy and paste every piece of text to the Google Translate page, which was really helpful (and free). She made a great shadow-box lamp shelf that is creative and easy and cool and well…just look.

I am now searching my apartment for interesting items to hang on the wall and hang a low wattage bulb from. Will my wine boxes catch on fire if I do this?

Stay tuned.